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Apple iPhone XR review: The best iPhone for most people

Everywhere I go, I see people hanging onto their old iPhones — those devices have usually seen better days, but there they are, still ticking away. Sometimes, as socially anxious as I am, I ask people about it. More often than not, their answers are the same: They don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new phone. I get that, and apparently, Apple does too: That’s why the iPhone XR exists.

Apple hasn’t shied away from selling cheaper smartphones: There was the 5c some years ago, and the SE after that. And let’s not forget that Apple always sells the prior year’s models for less once the shiny new stuff comes out. The iPhone XR is a step in a different direction. Instead of just repackaging old components, Apple took a lot of what makes the XS and XS Max great and built a brand new, more affordable frame around it. It’s all about accessibility. A process like this is rife with compromises and, to be clear, Apple made quite a few of them in building the XR. To Apple’s credit, though, the iPhone XR never really feels compromised. Sure, it’s less flashy than its premium cousins — even so, the XR delivers everywhere it counts.

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A fresh face

When Apple launched the iPhone X last year, it quickly became the company’s most popular phone. But its price tag meant it was out of reach for a lot of people itching for an upgrade. That left the company with a new challenge: finding a way to squeeze all the important bits from its new, premium smartphones into a body that doesn’t cost nearly as much. The answer? Craft a bigger, iPhone X-style body with the same glass-and-aluminum finish found in devices like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

The XR is a little wider, thicker and taller than the XS, but it never feels unwieldy. In fact, since it in sits in a nice little sweet spot between the XS and the massive Max, the XR arguably offers the best blend of size and usability. Build quality is up to Apple’s usual standards, which is to say it’s impeccable. The iPhone XR may cost less than the phones I reviewed a month ago, but it doesn’t feel like it. In fact, I’ve come to prefer the XR’s design over the others: It feels like a taller, narrower iPhone 8 Plus, and its front glass has been less prone to scratching than devices like the Pixel 3 XL.

Oh, and did I mention it comes in a bunch of colors? There are a handful of new options — yellow, coral and a light blue — joining mainstays like white, black and Product (RED), and honestly, I’m a little bummed I only got the white one to test. (In some unofficial polling around the Engadget offices, yellow seems far and away the most popular.) Picking a smartphone to live with for a few years is a highly personal choice, and Apple poured a lot of work into making sure there was an eye-catching XR for just about everyone.

And then there’s the screen, which has become a lightning rod in certain corners of the internet. At 6.1-inches, Apple’s Liquid Retina display feels like the right screen size for most people. The thing is, it runs at 1,792×828 — that’s well below either of the premium phones that Apple just released, not to mention lots of midrange Android phones released this year. Apple says this the “most advanced” LCD screen anyone has every squeezed into a smartphone but does that really matter when it isn’t as pixel-dense as most of the other phones in this price range? Well, in a word: yes.

After living with the iPhone XR for a week, I can safely say that most people (which might not include those of you reading Engadget) simply will not care about the dip in resolution. It’s true that you can see some individual pixels if you press your nose right up against the glass. It’s also true that you can easily spot the difference between the XR and XS displays when zooming in on photos. In typical, everyday use, though, the difference is negligible. Yes, you can tell it’s different from a premium Apple display, and yes, it would’ve been nice if Apple just went with the industry standard 1080p. Even so, I’ve found this display to be good enough. And I seriously doubt the average person upgrading from an older iPhone will find much to complain about. Colors are bright and vivid, and viewing angles are still excellent.

Apple’s choice to go LCD on the XR does mean the company had to make a few more compromises. The bezels that run around the display are a little thicker here than on the XS, mostly because of the bright row of LEDs that run along the bottom of the panel. (Remember: Unlike OLEDs, LCD screens need to be backlit.) Because Apple couldn’t just leave the bottom bezel thicker than the rest, there’s a little extra space around the whole screen. They don’t detract from the screen itself, but they’re definitely noticeable.

While it has nothing to do with the type of screen being used, the lack of Apple’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology is noticeable. A lot of people I know never actually use it, and it almost certainly would’ve driven the XR’s cost up, but hey, it debuted on the 6S back in 2015, and ditching it in a phone that is otherwise superior feels a bit odd.

One camera, and a handful of tricks

These days, it’s not uncommon to find smartphones with more than two cameras on their backs; just look at HuaweiLG and Samsung if you haven’t seen one yet. Meanwhile, dual cameras have become de rigueur for the industry. I can count on one hand the number of phones we’ve reviewed this year that had only one main camera.

Well, we can add the iPhone XR to that list. It helps, however, that the XR’s single camera is a very good one: It’s the exact same 12-megapixel wide-angle camera Apple uses in the XS and XS Max, and it still produces some lovely photos. You’ll find a lot of detail and some excellent colors in the resulting stills, and it’s been surprisingly handy in low-light thanks to its f/1.8 aperture and sensor with deeper tranches between those pixels. Apple’s Smart HDR kicks in to improve dynamic range pretty often, too, which is often really helpful for preventing parts of some photos from being blown out entirely. But overall Apple’s approach here is a measured one that churns out consistently solid (if somewhat neutral) photos. And it even stays off completely in some situations when the camera doesn’t think it’s necessary.

Official: Navy may see another virus-stricken shipNicaraguan president missing in action for a montha screenshot of a cell phone

Everywhere I go, I see people hanging onto their old iPhones — those devices have usually seen better days, but there they are, still ticking away. Sometimes, as socially anxious as I am, I ask people about it. More often than not, their answers are the same: They don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new phone. I get that, and apparently, Apple does too: That’s why the iPhone XR exists.

Apple hasn’t shied away from selling cheaper smartphones: There was the 5c some years ago, and the SE after that. And let’s not forget that Apple always sells the prior year’s models for less once the shiny new stuff comes out. The iPhone XR is a step in a different direction. Instead of just repackaging old components, Apple took a lot of what makes the XS and XS Max great and built a brand new, more affordable frame around it. It’s all about accessibility. A process like this is rife with compromises and, to be clear, Apple made quite a few of them in building the XR. To Apple’s credit, though, the iPhone XR never really feels compromised. Sure, it’s less flashy than its premium cousins — even so, the XR delivers everywhere it counts.

A fresh face

When Apple launched the iPhone X last year, it quickly became the company’s most popular phone. But its price tag meant it was out of reach for a lot of people itching for an upgrade. That left the company with a new challenge: finding a way to squeeze all the important bits from its new, premium smartphones into a body that doesn’t cost nearly as much. The answer? Craft a bigger, iPhone X-style body with the same glass-and-aluminum finish found in devices like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

The XR is a little wider, thicker and taller than the XS, but it never feels unwieldy. In fact, since it in sits in a nice little sweet spot between the XS and the massive Max, the XR arguably offers the best blend of size and usability. Build quality is up to Apple’s usual standards, which is to say it’s impeccable. The iPhone XR may cost less than the phones I reviewed a month ago, but it doesn’t feel like it. In fact, I’ve come to prefer the XR’s design over the others: It feels like a taller, narrower iPhone 8 Plus, and its front glass has been less prone to scratching than devices like the Pixel 3 XL.

Oh, and did I mention it comes in a bunch of colors? There are a handful of new options — yellow, coral and a light blue — joining mainstays like white, black and Product (RED), and honestly, I’m a little bummed I only got the white one to test. (In some unofficial polling around the Engadget offices, yellow seems far and away the most popular.) Picking a smartphone to live with for a few years is a highly personal choice, and Apple poured a lot of work into making sure there was an eye-catching XR for just about everyone.

And then there’s the screen, which has become a lightning rod in certain corners of the internet. At 6.1-inches, Apple’s Liquid Retina display feels like the right screen size for most people. The thing is, it runs at 1,792×828 — that’s well below either of the premium phones that Apple just released, not to mention lots of midrange Android phones released this year. Apple says this the “most advanced” LCD screen anyone has every squeezed into a smartphone but does that really matter when it isn’t as pixel-dense as most of the other phones in this price range? Well, in a word: yes.a person posing for the camera

After living with the iPhone XR for a week, I can safely say that most people (which might not include those of you reading Engadget) simply will not care about the dip in resolution. It’s true that you can see some individual pixels if you press your nose right up against the glass. It’s also true that you can easily spot the difference between the XR and XS displays when zooming in on photos. In typical, everyday use, though, the difference is negligible. Yes, you can tell it’s different from a premium Apple display, and yes, it would’ve been nice if Apple just went with the industry standard 1080p. Even so, I’ve found this display to be good enough. And I seriously doubt the average person upgrading from an older iPhone will find much to complain about. Colors are bright and vivid, and viewing angles are still excellent.

Apple’s choice to go LCD on the XR does mean the company had to make a few more compromises. The bezels that run around the display are a little thicker here than on the XS, mostly because of the bright row of LEDs that run along the bottom of the panel. (Remember: Unlike OLEDs, LCD screens need to be backlit.) Because Apple couldn’t just leave the bottom bezel thicker than the rest, there’s a little extra space around the whole screen. They don’t detract from the screen itself, but they’re definitely noticeable.

While it has nothing to do with the type of screen being used, the lack of Apple’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology is noticeable. A lot of people I know never actually use it, and it almost certainly would’ve driven the XR’s cost up, but hey, it debuted on the 6S back in 2015, and ditching it in a phone that is otherwise superior feels a bit odd.screen of a cell phone

One camera, and a handful of tricks

These days, it’s not uncommon to find smartphones with more than two cameras on their backs; just look at HuaweiLG and Samsung if you haven’t seen one yet. Meanwhile, dual cameras have become de rigueur for the industry. I can count on one hand the number of phones we’ve reviewed this year that had only one main camera.

Well, we can add the iPhone XR to that list. It helps, however, that the XR’s single camera is a very good one: It’s the exact same 12-megapixel wide-angle camera Apple uses in the XS and XS Max, and it still produces some lovely photos. You’ll find a lot of detail and some excellent colors in the resulting stills, and it’s been surprisingly handy in low-light thanks to its f/1.8 aperture and sensor with deeper tranches between those pixels. Apple’s Smart HDR kicks in to improve dynamic range pretty often, too, which is often really helpful for preventing parts of some photos from being blown out entirely. But overall Apple’s approach here is a measured one that churns out consistently solid (if somewhat neutral) photos. And it even stays off completely in some situations when the camera doesn’t think it’s necessary.

Source : engadget