iPhone XR Release: Specifications and First Thoughts

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Alongside its usual offering of an upgraded “S range” iPhone, Apple has taken a bold new step within the smartphone market at its event this year.

With the release of the cheaper, “different-specs-but-same-shell” iPhone Xr, Apple has signalled that it is willing to make moves away from the steady structure of its mainstream smartphone series, with an offering of something more budget-friendly, yet without compromising on the style and substance that has made them the world’s first trillion-dollar company.

Now, you might think back to previous “budget” iPhones, like the 5C and SE, and see the Xr as merely a continuation of that theme.

That’s not entirely the case. Whereas in those models, Apple either effectively offered main model specs in previous model hardware or previous model specs in cheaper hardware; the Xr is the first iPhone to offer downgraded specs in pretty much its current main model hardware.

iPhone Xr Specifications

In other words, the iPhone Xr looks exactly the same as the Xs (and the X), aside from the superficial colourway choice differences… and one other key thing: the screen size.

Whereas the X and Xs have 5.8-inch screens, and the Xs Max brings a 6.5-inch screen to the party, the Xr falls slightly weirdly in the middle, at 6.1 inches.

And because of the style of these X iPhones, with bezel-less displays, translates to handset dimensions themselves somewhere between the X(Xs) and the Xs Max.

When we get into the meat and bones of the device, we can see a lot of big differences between the Xr and other X devices, as you would expect for an iPhone starting at $750.

First up, the screen. Rather than the SuperRetina HD screen featured on the iPhone Xs or the Retina HD screen on the iPhone 8, the Xr has what Apple calls a Liquid Retina HD Display — in other words, an LCD screen.

Again, the Xr is aiming for the middle of the pack with this screen — it’s an LCD like the iPhone 8 with better overall clarity and detail, but it isn’t up to the same standards as the OLED screen of the X, Xs and Xs Max.

Again, the rear-facing camera is smack-bang between that of the iPhone 8 and those on the X range. A single, wide-angle lens will beat the eight any day of the week but won’t capture anywhere near the level of detail or depth of the dual-lensed X devices.

However, the front-facing camera is the same as that of its more expensive relations — a 7MP True-Depth camera that allows for the facial recognition unlocking of the other X models.

Otherwise, most of the specs either fall in iPhone 8 or with the iPhone Xs — IP67 water resistance like the 8, A12 Bionic Processor like the Xs, Digital Zoom like the 8, Portrait Mode like the X and Xs etc.

The multiple colourways choices hark bark to the fun and vibrant colours of the iPhone 5C, with options like blue, yellow and coral.

There’s no super-heavyweight 512GB version like on the Xs and Xs Max, but there is (for some reason) a middling 128GB model, with the top storage offering being 256GB.

First Thought on the iPhone Xr

Expect to see this phone around a lot over the next year.

While not budget in the smartphone market, the price point of $750 (PHP40,500) is very much a bargain in new-gen iPhone terms.

What the Xr offers for that money, say versus $1000 for the equivalent Xs, is more than enough for almost every user. There will, of course, be those who would instead go towards the high end, but for the average iPhone-lover, the Xr does everything they’ll want it to.

On initial viewing, Apple has pulled a blinder with this release. A more budget phone that still feels premium, with most of the top-spec features of its flagship models, with more colour choices and storage options.

Is this a huge step forward in terms of smartphone tech? No.

Is it a shrewd business move from the world’s biggest company? You betcha.

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