Aluminium vs Steel
The iPhone Xs and Xs Max set themselves apart in a mobile industry inundated with aluminium with their premium stainless steel chassis. The iPhone XR, however, sports a more run-of-the-mill aluminium body. Aluminium is pretty robust and is used in aircraft due to its great strength-to-weight ratio. However, it’s not quite as strong as steel – there’s a reason why buildings use steel girders. Dropping your XR might just prove to be more fatal than dropping your iPhone Xs or Xs Max.
It must be noted that Apple uses 7000 series aluminium on the iPhone XR (just like the Apple Watch), which provides the highest durability possible on commercially available aluminium. This particular blend of metal is used in aerospace for high-stress components like airframes, so it shouldn’t be too much of a trade-off except if you prefer a hefty device.
Only Notches Here
The iPhone XR, like all iPhones, has no option to hide the notch. You’re stuck with it if you don’t like it. The notch may also block some key elements in some apps and games. A black wallpaper does alleviate most of the intrusion, though.
The XR has a water resistance rating of IP67 while the Xs and Xs Max, along with most of the flagship smartphone range are rated at IP68. So it’s slightly less resistant to dunks but a little splashing is fine. Note that Apple’s warranty does not include liquid damage!
That Back Glass
While the front display of the phone shares the newly improved glass with the Xs and Xs Max that Apple is claiming to be the most durable glass yet, the back of the XR is still only equipped with the same glass from the iPhone X that’s more shatter-prone.
That means you’ve got a choice of either a more drop-proof case or a really expensive repair bill from the Apple Store.
That 720p LCD
While Apple boasts the iPhone XR sports the best LCD display in the industry, it is still LCD. When compared to OLED displays like that one the Xs phones, the blacks are not as black and the colours look decidedly less vivid. However, the iPhone has been using LCD for every phone up until last year’s iPhone X and it’s been looking great and standing strong all these years with the various improvements especially with this year’s technology.
Another downside to the LCD is that the phone’s bezels are slightly larger than their OLED counterparts. This is because LCD, unlike OLED, requires backlighting. And where is the additional bulk from the backlighting housed? You guessed it, the bezels. Still, the iPhone XR has a nearly identical form as the Xs and in my opinion, it looks awesome and immersive.
Still, the HTC Droid DNA, released late 2012, was the first phone to feature a 1080p display. It’s 2018, and the iPhone XR has a 720p display. This means you won’t be able to watch your media like YouTube and Netflix in 1080p.
The difference between the cameras of the iPhone Xs and the XR is that it has the former has two: one wide angle and one telephoto camera. The iPhone XR’s camera array doesn’t include the additional telephoto camera, just the same 12-megapixel wide-angle found on the Xs phones. What this 12MP can’t do is the 2x optical zoom the telephoto camera of the Xs and many other phones can perform. You can still use a digital zoom of up to 5x but the Xs still wins in this aspect too as it has a digital zoom up to 10x. The question is do you really need to zoom in that much, though?
The lack of a dual lens set-up on the rear also means that many of the portrait depth-sensing effects that relied on computing differences between the data on both lenses are missing on the iPhone XR. Still, with some ingenuity, the engineers have managed to stuff in some portrait lighting modes, fewer than that found on the iPhone Xs phones. That’s a bit of a bummer, but the rear TrueDepth camera that works in conjunction with the IR flood illuminator works just as well (Along with bringing Face ID to the XR)!
Not Enough RAM
While both the Xs and Xs Max has 4GB of RAM, the iPhone XR follows suit with last year’s iPhone X and only comes with 3GB of RAM. This shortage of RAM can lead to your apps not being able to stay open while you multitask. I found that on apps like Reddit, it is possible to lose the point you were at while browsing and you’ll probably won’t be able to get back there again because of the page refresh.
No 3D Touch
Personally a feature I loved but never really used, the 3D Touch on the iPhone X and Xs phones has been replaced with haptic vibrations on the iPhone XR. The absence of 3D touch would mean no quick app actions and no link previews but in my time with the XR, I didn’t miss 3D Touch at all.