Head-To-Head: Apple iPhone XS Vs. iPhone XR

The CRN Test Center compares one of Apple's new OLED smartphones with the forthcoming lower-priced LCD iPhone model.


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Apple fans who are in the market for a new iPhone this fall have some decisions to make. Should you go with one of the top-end models—such as the iPhone XS--and pay at least $1,000? Or pay less for what will no doubt still be a great phone--the iPhone XR? Complicating matters, Apple will have a staggered launch of the new devices, with the iPhone XS coming out more than a month earlier than the iPhone XR. Which raises the additional question of whether to wait. Which of the new iPhones is ultimately a better fit for you? In the following slides, the CRN Test Center breaks down Apple's new iPhone XS vs the iPhone XR on specs, price and availability.


Even though the iPhone XR serves as entry-level device in Apple's new smartphone lineup, it will actually sport a larger display than the iPhone XS. The iPhone XR display measures 6.1 inches, vs 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS. Both phones will offer a nearly edge-to-edge screen (with the infamous camera notch at the top in both cases). Where the iPhone XR lags the XS is on display technology and resolution. The iPhone XR comes with an LCD screen rather than the more-colorful OLED display on the iPhone XS. However, Apple says a newly developed "Liquid Retina LCD" display for the iPhone XR features improved colors and picture quality over past LCD screens. On resolution, iPhone XR comes with 1,792 x 828 pixels for 326 ppi (pixels per inch). That's significantly lower res than the iPhone XS, which gets 458 ppi with resolution of 2,436 x 1,125.

Body & Colors

The iPhone XS will feature a frame made from "surgical grade" stainless steel, according to Apple. The iPhone XR will use a less-premium material, aluminum, for its frame instead of stainless steel.

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Interestingly, Apple is offering many more color choices for the iPhone XR. The phone will be available in six colors--red, yellow, white, coral, black or blue. That's compared to three color options for the iPhone XS—gold, space gray and silver.

Battery Life & Charging

Users that value battery life above other bells and whistles may want to consider the iPhone XR, which promises 15 hours of internet use on a charge, or 25 hours of talk time. By contrast, the iPhone XS offers a notable amount less—Apple promises 12 hours of internet use for the iPhone XS model, or 20 hours of talk time.

Both iPhones are able to charge wirelessly with a Qi charging pad, and they are also compatible with certain fast-charging accessories that offer a 50-percent charge in 30 minutes.

Processor & RAM

The iPhone XR and iPhone XS will both be powered by Apple's newest processor, the A12 Bionic. The six-core CPU in the A12 Bionic includes two high-performance cores, which run at up to 15 percent faster speeds than the chip in last year's iPhones (the A11). The A12 Bionic chip also has four low-power cores for less-intensive use, featuring up to 50 percent improved energy efficiency compared to the A11. The four-core GPU in the A12 Bionic chip will boost graphics performance by up to 50 percent, meanwhile.

Initial Geekbench benchmark results suggest the iPhone XS may get just a modest boost in performance over the iPhone XR. That's thanks in part to the reported inclusion of 4 GB of RAM in the iPhone XS, vs 3 GB of RAM in the iPhone XR.


A leading difference with the iPhone XS is its option for a massive 512 GB of internal storage at the highest end. The iPhone XS also offers storage options for 64 GB or 256 GB. By comparison, the iPhone XR also has three storage choices, but they max out at 256 GB. The other iPhone XR storage options are for 64 GB or 128 GB.


Another distinguishing factor between the two iPhones is the camera system. The iPhone XS includes a dual rear camera system, with wide-angle and telephoto cameras that each offer 12 megapixels and optical image stabilization. The iPhone XS sticks with a single rear wide-angle camera, offering 12 megapixels and optical image stabilization. Both camera systems offer features such as Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting, as well as Apple's new "Smart HDR" camera feature. Smart HDR makes use of the A12 Bionic chip and combines numerous images to deliver a photo that is more highly detailed.

Water Resistance

The iPhone XS has the leg-up on water resistance. The XS comes with a water resistance rating of IP68, which suggests the devices should withstand waters as deep as 5 feet for up to a half-hour. That makes the iPhone XS a bit more resilient than the iPhone XR, which has a water resistance rating of IP67—meaning that it's rated to survive shallower depths, of 3.3 feet, for 30 minutes.


The iPhone XS and iPhone XR will both only come with Face ID facial recognition as a biometric method for unlocking the phone. As a result, 2018 officially marks the end of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone line, with 2017’s iPhone 8 and 8 Plus being the last iPhones to feature fingerprint recognition.

Face ID uses Apple's TrueDepth Camera System to ensure that unlocking will be fast and consistent, according to the company. Apple has said that algorithm improvements will allow Face ID to work even faster in the newest iPhones. The iPhone XS and XR both lack a home button, meaning that the iPhone X gestures are needed for loading the home screen, opening the app switcher and checking notifications.

Price & Availability

The pricing difference between Apple's new iPhone XS and iPhone XR smartphones will likely be the deciding factor for many buyers. Thanks to its LCD screen, lower RAM, lesser water resistance rating and single-camera system, the iPhone XR has a notably lower price for its base model--$749. That's compared to the $999 starting price for the base model of the iPhone XS, with its advantages including the OLED screen and dual camera setup. (Still: don't forget that the iPhone XR actually gets longer battery life.)

You'll need to be a bit more patient to get the iPhone XR than the XS, however. Pre-orders for the iPhone XR don't begin until Oct. 19, with the release date for the phone on Oct. 26. Pre-orders for the iPhone XS, on the other hand, are already underway, and the iPhone XS will arrive on Friday, Sept. 21.