Is it Apple's best 'value-for-money' mobile?

Apple iPhone XR has one of the best LCD screens in the market.KVN Rohit/IBTimes India
Apple iPhone XR has one of the best LCD screens in the market. KVN Rohit/IBTimes India

Apple's low-cost 2018-series iPhone XR hit stores in global markets including India in late October, a month after the launch of the high-end iPhone XS and the XS Max.

The iPhone XR is the most affordable 2018-series Apple mobile with prices starting at Rs 76,900 for 64GB model, Rs 81,900 for 128GB and goes up to 91,900 for the 256GB variant.

I had been using the iPhone XR for more than three weeks. Have to say, it lived up to my expectations and more than anything else, the camera's photo quality was a pleasant surprise for me. Here's my review of Apple's new mobile.

Build quality and display:

For some iPhone XR's vivid colour options—white, black, blue, yellow, coral orange and (PRODUCT) RED is reminiscent of the iPhone 5C, but the former by no means should be compared with the latter. The iPhone 5C had cheap plastic-body and the processor—A6-- was outdated compared to A7 (with additional co-processor) seen in its top-end sibling iPhone 5S.

On the other hand, the iPhone XR has aerospace aluminium chassis and A12 Bionic, which is the most advanced chipset for a mobile in the market right now (more on this later).

The iPhone XR is premium in all senses and on par with all top-end Android phones.

Yeah, the iPhone XR uses aluminium frame and LCD-based screen, compared to surgery-grade stainless steel and OLED display seen in the iPhone XS series, but everything else is top-notch. The frame is made of solid aerospace-grade material and thanks to superb paint job; it is better than any existing marquee Android phone.

In my review unit, the silver-hued frame blends well with the snowy white of the glass-clad shell and even four white antenna lines two each on the right and left sides, too complements the over-all colourway of the iPhone.

It also comes with IP67 certifications, meaning the device can survive accidental water splashes, rain showers and also remain underwater for up to 1meter (around 3 feet) for close to 30 minutes.

Even the display, the hype is real, the LCD, as Apple calls its 'Liquid Retina Display' is the best we have seen in the mobile of the same class. To be frank, unless you have a super-microscopic eye, you won't able to make any discernible difference when placed beside the OLED-based Super Retina Display of iPhone XS series.

Apple iPhone XS Max (left) placed beside the iPhone XR (right).
Apple iPhone XS Max (left) placed beside the iPhone XR (right). KVN Rohit/IBTimes India

However, while playing high-resolution videos, we can see the difference in terms of brightness, but the clarity remains almost the same. You can see in the sample comparison image of the displays' of the iPhone XR (top) and the iPhone XS Max (below).

Apple iPhone XR placed above the iPhone XS Max for video viewing experience comparison.
Apple iPhone XR placed above the iPhone XS Max for video viewing experience comparison. KVN Rohit/IBTimes India

Also, due to the use of the LCD screen, the bezels are thick compared to the iPhone XS. But, Apple has done a wonderful job of keeping the overall thickness slim. Except for the notch on the top, bezel on all the sides is uniform making it more pleasant than some OLED-based rival phones. What I liked the most is the chin is very thin, which to me is one of the key aspects that make a phone look visually appealing.

As far as the screen readability under the bright sunlight is concerned, the iPhone XR excels in this aspect, as I had no trouble reading texts or watching multimedia content on the large screen.

Overall, the viewing experience on the iPhone XR when compared to the iPhone XS (review), there are differences but are negligible and you won't miss that much.


As said before, Apple iPhone XR comes with A12 Bionic chipset same as we see in the top-end iPhone XS and the XS Max. It comes with 6-cores, two high-performance, four efficiency cores, which is said to make the device consume almost 50% less power than the predecessor A11 series.

Also, it comes integrated with an 8-core neural engine, 4-core graphics processor unit and the new image signal processor. It is capable of performing 5 trillion operations per second.

With such high-end, the iPhone XR truly lived up to the expectations. It functioned flawlessly without any sign of lag-ness whatsoever. It worked buttery smooth while playing graphics-intense games like Asphalt 9 series and also the Augmented Reality (AR) apps Night Sky.

On AnTuTu Benchmarking app, it scored a mind boggling 3,25,514 points, which is several notches higher over any rival marquee Android phone in the market. Rest assured, none of the 2018-series premium Android phones even with new software update, will never be able to come close to the benchmark set by the A12 series.


For those unaware, iPhone XR's 12MP primary camera with wide-angle sensor is same as the one found in the iPhone XS series, but lacks the secondary telephoto lens, which offers optical zoom. Due to this shortcoming, iPhone XR will miss out on 2x optical zoom and also two portrait options—stage light and stage light mono.

However, the iPhone XR takes some stunning top-quality images. The credit has to go to the well optimised ISP of A12 Bionic chipset and also the iOS 12. With the arrival of the iOS 12.1, it can now take real-time portrait pictures on both front and back.

Yes, the primary camera can't capture non-human face with Portrait mode, but in the normal mode with Smart HDR on, it still takes beautiful snaps. In the background, the scene information gets blurred naturally, without making it look like photo-shopped picture [Check out the Praying Mantis and the tiny shoot on the Christmas tree bark, in the images-slide below].

As far as the front 7MP FaceTime camera is concerned, it is same as one found in the iPhone XS series. It takes beautiful selfies and also comes with all the five portrait options—natural light, studio light, contour light, stage light and stage light mono, which will help capture fine quality images single or group selfies to post on social media channel or add a DP.

Like the iPhone XS series, the XR is one of best camera phones to video recording in the market. It comes with four mics, meaning users can take 4K or full HD 1080p videos with stereo audio recording, as well.

And also thanks to advanced camera hardware and biometric sensor, the Face ID works better and quicker than the original iPhone X.


As per reports in the media, Apple iPhone XR comes with 2,942mAh, which is said to be more than the generic iPhone XS. Having said that, this aspect is very subjective, as it depends on how much time user spends on the phone.

This battery life review is based on author's phone usage during active hours—5:30 am to 10:00 pm. During the testing, it consistently gave full day's battery life with little over 20% juice left before I could retire to the bed. During my active hours, I normally do internet browsing for latest news, go through social media channels for multimedia consumption, cricket score tracking via sports app during the commute between office and home (around two and half hours each day –to and fro), and while in the office, I use it for gaming, sharing of texts and multimedia contents on messenger app, voice calling and other day to day activities. Have to admit, I personally don't play games on phones, but for testing purpose I did play for a little over 15 minutes.

But, it's really sad that Apple has not packed a fast charger in the iPhone XR's retail box. It takes forever to fully charge the mobile with the generic charger it ships with.

Also, since there is no word on when AirPower wireless charging mat is coming to the market, consumers can buy third party Qi certified chargers for the iPhone XR.


With the arrival of iOS 12.1, the iPhone XR's eSIM feature has been activated, meaning, consumers can add second personal phone number to the Apple mobile. In India, Airtel and Reliance Jio are offering the service.

You can store more than one eSIM in your iPhone, but you can use only one at a time. You can switch eSIMs by tapping Settings > Cellular > Cellular Plans and tapping the plan you want to use. Then tap Turn On This Line.

Final thoughts:

There's no denying that Apple has cut corners in the iPhone XR to make it make more affordable than the iPhone XS series, but the difference of user-experience is too negligible. The former is premium in all senses; even the solitary rear camera with wide-angle lens and the software magic of iOS 12 (even v12.1), the resulting images are great be it day or night.

The front camera is same as the iPhone XS and takes fine selfies. Add to the fact that Face ID works fast and has less False Rejection Rate (FRR) compared to the iPhone X (2017).

Furthermore, it has the same A12 Bionic chipset as the iPhone XS, beats all marquee Android phone in terms of performance.

It also offers exceptionally long battery life and I believe it's the best among the three newly launched iPhones. Only qualm is that there is no fast charger in the retail box, which Apple should seriously consider adding it in the next iteration in 2019.


  • Sturdy and premium build quality
  • Good display
  • Apple A12 Bionic—Best chipset for a mobile in the industry
  • Apple iOS 12—most secure mobile OS
  • Long-lasting battery
  • The eSIM feature has set a new standard for Dual-SIM phones, as it is easy to activate and also enables iPhone XR (also iPhone XS & Max) to store multiple SIM details and switch easily between them.


  • With no fast charging cable, it takes forever to charge the iPhone XR with regular power adapter, which comes with retail box.

Key specifications of Apple iPhone XR:

ModelsiPhone XR
Display6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina HD screen

  • HDR display
  • Resolution:1792x828p
  • Pixel density: 326ppi (pixels per inch)
  • Contrast ratio: 1,400:1
  • True Tone Display
  • Wide colour display (P3)
  • Brightness: 625 cd/m2 max
OSApple iOS 12 (iOS 12.1.1 released)
Processor7nm class 6-core Apple A12 Bionic CPU+ 8-core Neural Engine+ 4-core GPU
Main Camera
  • 12MP wide-angle (F1.8)
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Wide colours capture for photos and live photos
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow sync
  • Portrait mode with advanced Bokeh and depth control (F16-F1.4)
  • Portrait Lighting with three effects (Natural, Studio, Contour)
  • Smart HDR for photos
  • 4K video recording at 24fps, 30fps or 60fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
  • Optical Image Stabilisation for video
  • digital zoom up to 3x
  • Slow-motion video support for 1080p at 120fps or 240 fps
  • Time-lapse video with stabilisation
  • Stereo recording
Front cameraTrueDepth camera

  • 7MP photos
  • F2.2 aperture
  • Retina Flash
  • Wide colour capture for photos and Live photos
  • Smart HDR for photos
  • Portrait mode with advanced Bokeh and Depth control
  • Portrait Lighting with five effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono)
  • Extended dynamic range for video at 30fps
  • Cinematic video stabilisation (1080p and 720p)
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps for 60 fps
  • Animoji and Memoji
Connectivity and NetworkDual SIM Dual Standby (physical SIM+ eSIM) Gigabit-class LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi MIMO, VoLTE, NFC with reader mode, Wi-Fi calling, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/QZSS/ GSM/EDGE, UMTS/HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, CDMA EV-DO Rev, A(select models)In China: iPhones will come with two physical SIM support
  • Talk time: up to 25 hours
  • Internet use: up to 15 hours
  • Video playback: up to 16 hours
  • Audio playback: up to 65 hours
  • Fast-charge capable:
  • Up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
Add-onsRated IP67 (maximum depth of 1 metres up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529, Face ID: Enabled by TrueDepth camera for facial recognition, FaceTime video and audio calling via Wi-Fi/Cellular or any FaceTime audio–enabled device
Dimensions150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
ColoursBlue/White/Black/Yellow/Coral/ Red
Price (in India)
  • 64GB: Rs 76,900
  • 128GB: Rs 81,900
  • 256GB: Rs 91,900