Apple’s cheaper iPhone is not cheap

Apple is trying again in 2018 with a relatively low-priced iPhone – less expensive than the Xs models, but not cheap at just 850 euros. However, buyers also get a smartphone with very good equipment, but in some points they did not use the expensive models of the hardware.

Apple iPhone is not cheap

The desire for an Apple iPhone for newcomers is not new: Basically, since the launch of the first iPhone speculation about whether and when Apple will turn to users with lower financial resources. With the iPhone 5C and SE, it has tried Apple with standalone models, since then serve as a beginner equipment but the outdated smartphones of the past years.

At the presentation of the new Xs models , Apple has presented the iPhone Xr . The device costs 850 euros less than 300 euros less than the cheapest iPhone Xs. Which smears buyers have to make it, we looked at the test.

Externally, the iPhone Xr looks like a current device in the borderless design of the iPhone X. Compared to the two current top models Xs and Xs Max, however, already fall off some differences on. So the Xr comes in different bright colors: Our test model is light blue, there are also yellow, coral red, dark red, white and black.

The metal frame is not polished to a high gloss like the iPhone Xs. The iPhone Xr is made of aluminum, which we do not necessarily perceive as a disadvantage. Another visual difference with the display off is the camera, which only has one lens on the iPhone Xr. Dual cameras are available with the new iPhones only in the Xs series. Apple promises similarly good image results, the portrait mode is available to users – more on that later.

If we switch on the iPhone Xr, we immediately notice another difference: The iPhone’s charging screen is black, so it’s easy to see that the lower-priced model does not use an OLED screen. Instead, Apple has installed a LC display and missed this fantasy name Liquid Retina.

Good LCD without full HD playback

Behind it is a 6.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1792×828 pixels and a pixel density of 326 ppi. That’s the same pixel density that the iPhone 4 already had. The resolution means that on the iPhone Xr no Full HD movies can be viewed in native resolution, since there simply are not enough pixels.

In everyday use, the pixel density is sufficient, but in direct comparison, the font looks less spicy – but most colleagues in the editorial team actually see this only in direct comparison. Striking is already the noticeably wider frame around the display.

Apple apparently had to go somewhere with the technology for the screen lighting and has housed these around the display. As a result, the iPhone Xr has a frame about 4 mm wide around the screen until the beginning of the metal frame. The iPhone Xs Max is a good one millimeter thinner. That does not seem like much, but it immediately catches our eye and seems somehow strange.

The display has no 3D touch, so it can not detect any pressure. True Tone on the other hand, so the adjustment of the color temperature of the display to the temperature of the ambient light, Apple has also installed the iPhone Xr.

At the top, the display has a notch that is slightly wider than that of the iPhone Xs Max. It hides a loudspeaker, the front camera and the technology for Face ID. We can unlock the iPhone Xr via a face scan just like the iPhone X, Xs and Xs Max – the technology is the same, including the dot matrix and IR camera.

Good colors and viewing angle stability

From the picture quality Apple links with the LC display to earlier screens of the same technology. The colors are very pleasant, the picture does not lose any significant brightness when we look at it diagonally from the side. The distance between the cover glass and the panel is very small, which is why content looks like printed in places.

Overall, we like the display actually good, but the resolution we feel despite usability in everyday life as too low for a smartphone that costs 850 euros. One can argue about how high the resolution should be with a smartphone, but we consider 1080p in a high-end device – and this is the iPhone Xr undoubtedly – for a basic requirement.

Anyone who has previously used a smartphone with higher resolution should notice the lower pixel density of the iPhone Xr, especially with the small font under the app icons. The fact that Full HD videos can not be displayed natively on the iPhone Xr is diametrically opposed to the idea of a luxury-class smartphone at the given price.

Camera does not miss missing second lens

In addition to the display, Apple has saved on the iPhone Xr at the camera. Instead of a dual camera, there is only a single lens, as Apple has last installed on the iPhone 8. The 12-megapixel camera is the main camera of the iPhone Xs and Xs Max correspond, the initial aperture is f / 1.8.

Due to the lack of a second lens, we can not take pictures with optical zoom twice with the iPhone Xr. Instead, we only have a fivefold digital zoom available. Despite the missing second camera, the device has a portrait mode. Like Google, Apple uses an algorithm on the main camera to enable blurring without depth information.

This works well in our tests: the separation between the foreground object and the background is done without much error. The difference to the portrait photos of the iPhone Xs Max, which we have used as a comparison, is the perspective and the intensity of the depth of field, due to a different focal length.

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max use the telephoto lens for portrait mode. The iPhone Xr, however, must use the normal wide-angle lens, which has a correspondingly larger angle. In order to achieve the same detail as on the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, we must therefore approach. But then the face looks somewhat disproportionate – a reason why photography traditionally uses longer focal lengths for portraits.

Due to the lack of a second camera, users of the iPhone Xr are not all lighting effects available: Only the options studio light and contour light, we can use. In the front camera, on the other hand, there are also the options stage light and stage light mono. The front camera has depth information thanks to the Face ID sensors. In the portrait shots, we can edit the depth of field in retrospect, as with the expensive iPhones. This works both for portrait photos with the front camera and when shooting with the single lens on the back.

Image quality is comparable to that of the Apple iPhone Xs Max

The photos taken with the main camera of the iPhone Xr have a bit more noise than those of the iPhone Xs Max. As a result, fine details are less clear, but this only stands out in the case of high magnification and close inspection. The picture quality is otherwise very good and comparable to that of the iPhone Xs Max. The main difference between the cameras is actually the missing telephoto lens and the associated loss of function. Also, the iPhone Xr makes from the exposure her very balanced images.

There are also few surprises at SoC: Apple’s A12 Bionic works in the iPhone Xr, the same chipset as in the iPhone Xs and Xs Max. Accordingly, the smartphones achieve almost the same benchmark results, we can not detect any speed differences in the operation. This also applies to AR applications.

Like the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, the iPhone Xr can be used with a Nano SIM card and an additional eSIM. As with the expensive models, the eSIM support is not yet released and does not work properly with our test device.

The battery of the iPhone Xr is supposed to last one and a half hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. In our battery life test, we come to a running time of 6.5 hours when we watch a full HD movie at full brightness. This is half an hour longer than our reading of the iPhone 8 Plus and is below the eight hours of the iPhone Xs Max.

Availability and conclusion

The iPhone Xr is available from October 26, 2018 at Apple, either in the online shop or in the Apple stores. The cheapest version is the 64 GB of memory for which Apple wants to have 850 euros. The 128-gigabyte model costs 910 euros, the 256-gigabyte version 1,020 euros.


Who hoped for an entry-level iPhone in 2018, will be disappointed again this year: The iPhone Xr is technically much as equipped as the Xs models and accordingly expensive. If you do not want to spend at least 850 euros on an iPhone, you still have to buy an older model.

However, the iPhone Xr offers those who do not want to spend at least € 1,150 for the smallest iPhone Xs, the ability to get a very similar device for 300 euros less. Whereby it has one of the hardware differences in itself: The display can not display Full HD natively, which we do not find adequate for a smartphone in this price range. In everyday life, the display is of course still good usable, but when we look closely, we recognize the lower pixel density but quite.

This is even more annoying than that the display is otherwise very good. Apple used to be able to build good LC screens, but the iPhone Xr is no different. The processing of the iPhone Xr is also good as usual, the new colors are beautifully implemented.

The camera works very well even without a second lens and makes good pictures, which have a balanced image dynamics. The slight sharpness differences we see especially in daylight only under strong magnification.

The iPhone Xr is a good smartphone and could actually sell well given the 300-euro price difference. However, we would have liked Apple to have given the display a slightly better resolution and a slightly narrower margin.


Posted by on October 28, 2018. Filed under Apple, Articles, Gadgets, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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