News: Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone XR

Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone XR

The iPhone XR has touched down alongside the XS and XS Max, and it utilizes tried and tested materials found on the iPhone 8, while being molded in the same vein as the iPhone X. The budget-friendlier flagship comes with its own set of design elements to set it apart from its more expensive brethren, but is powered by the same SoC, making it is a solid choice if you're thinking of upgrading.

A lot of the rumors we've collected throughout the year have been realized, while others like the iPhone 9 or XC moniker have turned out to be mere fantasy. That said, the iPhone XR has an impressive spec sheet that belies its entry-level branding, and is more than capable of keeping pace with its brothers, not to mention its Android competition. Here's all the important details surrounding the iPhone XR.

Jump to a section: Important Dates | Storage Capacity | Price for Everything | Body | Basics | Display | Performance | Battery | Front Camera | Rear Camera | Audio | Sensors | Connectivity | Security | Software | Box Includes

Important Dates

Apple's latest batch of iPhones — including the the iPhone XR — were announced on Sept. 12, 2018 during the company's fall event. Unfortunately, the XR will be become available a month after the XS and XS Max, so preorders from Apple, stateside carriers, and major retailers start on Oct 19, 2018. After this, the iPhone XR will be available for everyone to purchase on Oct. 24, 2018.

  • Release date: October 24, 2018
  • Preorder date: October 19, 2018
  • Announced: Sept. 12, 2018

Storage Capacity

The budget friendly iPhone XR will come in three options as far as storage capacity goes, giving you a choice between 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB. As many have come to expect, the storage capacity on the iPhone XR — along with the XS and XS Max — can't be expanded, meaning they won't provide support for SD cards.

  • Storage available: 64 GB, 128 GB, or 256 GB
  • Expandable storage: no

Price for Everything

As Apple's entry model iPhone, the XR is the cheapest one out of the three models released this year. It will start at $749 for the 64 GB model, while the 128 GB and 256 GB variants will run you $799 and $899, respectively. There's also taxes to take into account, and you may want to add AppleCare+, along with carrier-associated costs (upgrade fees) that you'll need to pay on top of your regular bill.

  • Price: $749 (64 GB), $799 (128GB), or $899 (256 GB) plus tax
  • AppleCare+: $199 (optional)

Body

Just like the iPhone 8, the iPhone XR is made with a Series 7000 aluminum frame sandwiched between a glass rear panel and glass display. The glass rear panel is necessary for wireless charging using the Qi standard. Beyond that, the XR follows in the 5C's footsteps and comes in five color options: black, white, (PRODUCT)RED, yellow, coral, and blue.

  • Frame: Series 7000 aluminum
  • Finish: black, white, red, yellow, coral, blue
(1) (PRODUCT) RED, (2) Blue, (3) Yellow. Image via Apple

Apple boasts that the iPhone XR (along with all its devices) is produced in an eco-friendly manner, and utilizes recycled materials such as tin for its logic boards, plastics for components like the speaker assemblies, and bio-based plastics that are mixed into their glass assemblies. Besides those, the iPhone XR's design is free of mercury, arsenic, brominated flame retardant, PVC, and beryllium.

As such, the XR is completely recyclable, and once it reaches its lifespan, you can sent it back to Apple via their GiveBack program for free recycling. Apple will even buy it back and send you a gift card if they deem your device can still be used.

Basics

The dimensions of the iPhone XR fall squarely between the iPhone XS and the larger iPhone XS Max. The device has an "Ingress Protection" rating of 6 for debris, making it totally protected from dust and debris, and 7 for liquids, which translates to its capability of being submerged in water one meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

The iPhone XR will be stocked by the four major US carriers upon its release, with smaller outfits like US Cellular, and even tinier MVNOs such as Boost and Cricket, to follow. Major retailers like Walmart and Best Buy will also stock the iPhone XR once it becomes available for sale.

  • Height: 5.94 inches
  • Width: 2.98 inches
  • Depth: 0.33 inches
  • Weight: 6.84 ounces
  • Dust/water resistance: IP67 under IEC standard 60529
  • Supported carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

As far as ideal operation in various environmental settings and conditions, the iPhone XR will function in temperatures ranging from freezing all the way up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive in more extreme heat and cold when powered down, and is capable of weathering temperatures from -4 degrees to up to 113 degrees.

  • Operating temp: 32° to 95° F
  • Nonoperating temp: -4° to 113° F
  • Relative humidity: 5–95% noncondensing
  • Operating altitude: up to 10,000 feet (though could be more)

Display

According to Apple, the iPhone XR's 6.1- inch Liquid Retina LCD is the most advanced LCD display ever put on an iPhone (not necessarily the most advanced display overall — that title likely goes to the OLED screens on the XS and XS Max).

It boasts a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels, with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. To further achieve a near bezel-less look, the XR utilizes a newly designed backlight to stretch the LCD further into the corners, along with "advanced pixel masking and sub-pixel antialiasing which allows the display to follow the curves of the device."

The XR has an excellent screen-to-body ratio, though we're not sure of the exact number yet. We expect it to be just under 80%. It has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, making this iPhone a great option if you're into watching widescreen movies on the go. Apart form those, the XR features True Tone support for more natural viewing and has the ability to register touches at 120 Hz for smoother and more fluid responses. The display is also coated with an oleophobic layer for smudge-free viewing.

To further streamline costs, 3D Touch isn't supported on the iPhone XR — the only iPhone in the 2018 lineup to not have the feature. To make up for this, the XR employs a new haptic touch feature to give you a more tactile feedback whenever you press on the home screen to instantly open your Camera or Flashlight apps.

  • Screen size: 6.1 inches
  • Screen resolution: 1792 x 828 pixels
  • Pixel density: 326 ppi
  • Screen type: Liquid Retina LCD
  • Notch: yes
  • Screen-to-body ratio: Close to 80%
  • Aspect ratio: 19.5:9
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz
  • Touch refresh rate: 120 Hz
  • 3D Touch: No

Performance

Unlike the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR only has 3 GB of RAM. That said, the XR still employs the same 7 nm A12 Bionic processor, which has a 64-bit architecture (the new standard for iPhones) and a "next-generation Neural Engine" for machine learning.

Apple's newest SoC comes with 6 cores and clocks in at a snappy 2.496 GHz. It also utilizes the latest Apple-designed GPU that's 50% faster than its predecessor to help ensure smooth operation while performing labor-intensive tasks like gaming. To put it into perspective, the A12 Bionic can perform 5 trillion processes a second, compared to 600 billion processes a second that the previous A11 was capable of.

  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Processor: Apple A12 Bionic with 64-bit architecture
  • Chip size: 7 nanometer
  • Coprocessor: unknown
  • CPU frequency: 2.496 Ghz
  • CPU cores: 6
  • GPU: Apple-designed
  • GPU cores: 4

Battery

The iPhone XR comes standard with a non-removable lithium-ion battery, sized at 2,942 mAh, which is much better than the iPhone XS. According to Apple, the XR boasts a battery life that's 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus and will last for roughly 25 hours non-stop talking, 15 hours of browsing the web, 16 hours of watching videos back to back, and 65 hours for playing music and other audio files.

The iPhone XR's battery can be topped up using the standard Lightning to USB cable with either a computer or power adapter, as well as fast-charged using a Lightning to USB-C cable with an 8-watt wall adapter. The latter will get you about 50% battery in about 30 minutes. Charging can also be done wirelessly with any Qi-certified charging pad.

  • Battery: rechargable lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 2,942 mAh

Front Camera

Similar to last year's iPhone X, the iPhone XR has a 7 MP TrueDepth camera system that's housed within the notch located along the top of the display. Like the XS and XS Max, the XR utilizes this camera primarily for facial recognition (Face ID), replacing the fingerprint-based Touch ID that we've all grown familiar with.

Because of its advanced features, the XR's TrueDepth camera system is also perfect for taking selfies, and has the added capability of shooting in Portrait and Portrait Lighting mode, as well 1080p HD video recording at 30 or 60 fps. The ƒ/2.2 aperture camera can also be used for Animoji and Memoji, and now features a "Retina Flash" mode that aids in poor lighting by turning your screen into one giant flash.

Besides those, the front camera system features wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, and auto image stabilization which supports Auto HDR, exposure control, and Burst and Timer modes. It also can detect bodies, faces, and facial expressions such as smiling, winking, or even sticking your tongue out.

  • Resolution: 7 MP
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2
  • Zoom: no
  • Flash: screen-based
  • Image stabilization: software-based
  • RAW support: no
  • Object detection: bodies, faces, facial expressions

Rear Camera

The iPhone XR has a more traditional single-lens rear camera, employing the same wide-angle 12 MP shooter found on the XS series. The camera has an ƒ/1.8 aperture, along with a "quad LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync" designed to correct the ambient lighting for true-to-life flesh tones and provide more uniformly lit backgrounds and foregrounds. And just like the front camera, you can shoot in Portrait and Portrait Lighting mode.

Despite having a comparatively basic main camera, the iPhone XR still sports most of the same advanced features found on the XS and XS Max to help you take amazing photos. These features include a backside illumination sensor, wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, exposure control, body and face detection, Timer and Burst modes, Auto HDR with improved local tone mapping, and auto image stabilization.

Image via Apple

The iPhone XR can shoot RAW images, though you'll need third-party apps to do so, as the stock Camera app currently doesn't support it. Using the latter, photos you take will come in the form of standard PNG for screenshots and standard JPEG for photos, as well as the newer High-Efficiency Image File Format that Apple developed for higher quality images that take up less space on your device.

  • Resolution: 12 MP
  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8 (wide-angle)
  • Zoom: 5x digital
  • Flash: Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Image stabilization: optical
  • RAW support: yes
  • Lens cover: sapphire crystal
  • Object detection: bodies, faces
  • Formats: HEIF, JPEG, RAW

The iPhone XR does a pretty decent job of recording videos, letting you record in resolutions of either 720p, 1080p, or 4K with a max frame rate of 60 frames per second (30 for 720p). You also get cinematic video stabilization when recording in 720p and 1080p to further ensure higher quality videos. If you love recording in slow-motion, you can shoot at 1080p in either 120 fps or 240 fps.

When filming, you can also choose to record at 3x digital zoom. The Quad-LED True Tone flash also kicks in when you need it, though Slow Sync does not work for videos. Video can also make use of the optical image stabilization, body and face detection, and sapphire crystal lens cover, as well as noise reduction, geotagging, continuous autofocus, and zoom abilities when playing back footage.

Videos are shot in either H.264 format or H.265 (High-Efficiency Video Coding).

  • Resolution: 720p, 1080p, and 4K
  • Max frame rate: 30 fps for 720p, 60 fps for 1080p and 4K
  • Slow motion: yes, 1080p at 120 or 240 fps
  • Time-lapse: yes, with stabilization
  • Photos: 8 MP stills while recording 4K
  • Zoom: 3x digital
  • Flash: Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Image stabilization: optical
  • Lens cover: sapphire crystal
  • Object detection: bodies, faces
  • Formats: H.264, H.65 (HEVC)

Audio

The omission of the headphone jack made waves when the iPhone 7 was introduced, and this has unsurprisingly carried over into the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. Fortunately, a Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter is still included, so you can use your favorite earbuds unabated. Even better, the iPhone XR features stereo speakers, which are located along the bottom of the phone and near the TrueDepth camera.

Besides those, microphones can also be found by each speaker, along with a noise-cancelling mic located in the main camera lens on the rear of the device. The iPhone XR supports AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+) formats, as claimed by Apple.

  • 3.5 mm headphone jack: no
  • Stereo speakers: yes
  • Mics: three total (on rear, front, and bottom)
  • Max speaker volume: unknown

Sensors

The iPhone XR comes jam-packed with all the necessary sensors it needs to perform a wide variety of tasks — from making sure your face doesn't accidentally register a touch input while on an important call, to keeping track of steps you take while out on a run, to tracking your location and so much more.

For us who live stateside, assisted GPS comes baked into the latest iPhone, and is essential for maps and navigation, to name a few. The sensor plays an extremely vital part in "Location Services" in iOS, which can also work in conjunction with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular towers. For other regions outside the US, there's Galileo for Europe, GLONASS for Russia, and Japan's QZSS.

For detecting the iPhone's movement and tilt, the accelerometer comes into play, and helps ensure your display is always at the correct orientation, among other things. The sensor also works in conjunction with the built-in three-axis gyroscope to determine movement in three dimensions, like up/down, forward/backward, right/left, and so on. These are necessary for a lot of games and especially augmented reality.

The proximity sensor detects when objects are close to the screen, and is essential for turning the screen off every time the side of your face is pressed against the front in a call to prevent accidental touch input.

The magnetometer in the iPhone XR can perform "measurements of the Earth's magnetic field relative to the device," according to Apple. You can get even elevation readings and use the barometer to measure air pressure. An ambient light sensor is also built in to detect light and adjust screen brightness accordingly for easier viewing.

The iPhone XR comes standard with a pedometer that is used in conjunction with the Health app to track your steps. Though not as accurate as pedometers found on the Apple Watch or Fitbit watches, it still accomplishes the task quite well.

  • Sensors: accelerometer, aGPS, barometer, digital compass, magnetometer, three-axis gyroscope, pedometer, proximity sensor

Connectivity

The iPhone XR has Wi-Fi and cellular support, and it includes Bluetooth 5 technology to wirelessly connect you to a whole slew of gadgets (even two at a time), such as headsets, car stereos, remote shutters, and other Bluetooth accessories.

A Near Field Communication chip reads data from electronic tags or real-world objects like toys, in-store signs, and store products in supported apps.

  • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac with 4 x 4 MIMO antenna
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • NFC: yes
  • Cellular: single SIM card tray
  • Port: Lightning
  • Other: iBeacon microlocation, AirPlay, AirDrop

As for the wireless bands, the iPhone XR supports both CDMA and GSM networks, indicating that there's only one model to cover all the major US-based carriers .

Model A1984

  • FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 32, 66, 71)
  • TD-LTE (Bands 34, 38, 39, 40, 41)
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Security

The arrival of the iPhone XR marks Apple's complete transition away from Touch ID in favor of the more secure TrueDepth camera system and Face ID. Now, you can use your face to unlock your iPhone, along with apps and services. Apple touts that the odds of an unauthorized person bypassing Face ID is one in a million, unless they have an identical twin.

Of course, you can also use Face ID for Apple Pay to pay for goods and services online and in stores with connected cards or your Apple Pay Cash balance.

  • Security: Face ID

To further solidify your privacy and security, the iPhone XR features USB restricted mode, which prevents unwanted devices from connecting to your iPhone and potentially stealing your data. Basically, this security feature requires you to use your passcode to give access to a computer or other device. Learn more.

Software

The iPhone XR will be running on iOS 12 off the bat, which covers every iPhone model from the iPhone 5S on up. Hands down, Apple's handsets are the best in terms of future-proofing, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the iPhone XR is still supported when iOS 16 rolls out in 2022. So if you're in need of a new phone and want it to last for the next five or more years, you can't go wrong with the iPhone XR.

  • Software: iOS 12 and higher

As the iPhone XR's default operating system, iOS 12 provides you with a slew of options to communicate, such as FaceTime videos and audio using either your cellular network or Wi-Fi, voice over LTE (VoLTE), and Wi-Fi calling capabilities. Of course, you'll also receive complete support from your built-in virtual assistant, Siri.

For audio playback, the XR runs the full gamut, and supports AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+) files. As for videos, HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG, as well as High Dynamic Range with Dolby Vision and HDR10 content are supported.

Box Includes

Once you've decided to commit to either purchasing or upgrading to the iPhone XR, you'll naturally want to know what you'll receive. Upon the opening the box, you'll get the usual goodies apart from the iPhone, which includes the Lightning cable and 5-watt power adapter, a set of Lightning-equipped EarPods, and a companion Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter, along with documentation and SIM removal tool.

To summarize, you'll get the following:

Cover image via VentureBeat/YouTube

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