iPhone XS vs iPhone XR: What is the Difference?

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The iPhone XS and XR launched at the same time in September 2018. While the XR is the more colourful option, the two are hard to tell apart on first glance.

Here we explore why there’s a £250/$250 price difference between the two phones to see which you should buy.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XR: Price and availability

The iPhone XS is available to pre-order now from Apple and will ship from 21 September.

It costs from £999/$999 for the 64GB model.

Check out the best contract prices here in our iPhone XS deals article

The iPhone XR will be available for pre-order on 21 October and will cost from £749/$749  for the 64GB model.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XR: Design and build

At first glance the iPhone XS and iPhone XR look the same save for the colourful hues of the XR. But both are quite different on closer inspection.

The iPhone XS is the exact same dimensions as the now discontinued iPhone X. It has a 5.8in display but thanks to the edge to edge notch design is still a one-handed phone for a lot of people.

The iPhone XS also comes in a larger version, the XS Max

Although it’s cheaper the iPhone XR is larger with a 6.1in display. Its bezels are larger too, but has the notch of the iPhone XS. The XR comes in six different vibrant colours, whereas the iPhone XS is either silver, space grey or gold.                                       

The more expensive iPhone XS gains a stainless steel rim between the glass sandwich of its screen and rear compared to the aluminium rim of the iPhone XR – the latter’s similar to the rim of the iPhone 7 or 8.

The dual cameras of the iPhone XS are not on the XR. Instead there’s a single camera on the back that is less of a bump, but still a bump.

Overall, the iPhone XR is 8.3mm thick, slightly chunkier than the 7.7mm iPhone XS.

The iPhone XS and iPhone XR don’t look dissimilar, but the screen size, rim material, colour options and bezel size are the main aesthetic differences.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XR: Features and specs

Before we highlight the biggest specs differences, here is a comparison of the core features of the iPhone XS and iPhone XR:

Here is a comparison of the iPhone XS and XR:

  iPhone XS iPhone R
iOS iOS 12 iOS 12
Colours Gold, Silver, Space Grey White, black, blue, yellow, coral, red
Display 5.8in Super Retina Display (2436×1125, 458ppi) OLED 6.1in Liquid Retina Display (1792×828, 326ppi) LCD
Processor Apple A12 Bionic Apple A12 Bionic
Storage 64GB/256GB/512GB 64GB/128GB/256GB
Rear camera 12Mp wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS + 12Mp telephoto, f/2.4, OIS, optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, Portrait Mode, quad-LED flash 12Mp f/1.8, OIS, 5x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, Portrait Mode, quad-LED flash
Front camera 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video
Video recording 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps
Biometric security Face ID Face ID
Wireless charging? Yes Yes
Waterproofing IP68 IP67
Dimensions 70.9 x 143.6 x 7.7mm 75.7 x 150.9 x 8.3mm
Weight 174g 194g
Price £999/£1,149/£1,349 (same in $) £749/£799/£899 (same in $)
Buy SIM-free Pre-order 14 September Pre-order 19 October
Buy on contract Pre-order 14 September Pre-order 19 October

Apple has made a big deal of the fact both the iPhone XS and XR have the same A12 Bionic processor. This is good if you want to spend less on your phone, and can pick up the iPhone XR and it’ll run just as smooth with the same silicon inside.

A big difference is the screen tech. The iPhones XS has an OLED display that is more vibrant when compared side by side with the iPhone XR, which has an LCD display.

OLEDs are capable of deeper blacks and a higher pixels per inch count that make them appear less grainy on close inspection than an LCD. This isn’t to say the iPhone XR has a bad display, as Apple’s LCDs are excellent.

You can get the iPhone XS with a huge 512GB storage but this isn’t an option on the XR. To be honest, most people will be absolutely fine with the base storage option of 64GB.

Both phones have no headphone jack and support wireless and fast charging – but don’t come with a fast charger in the box. This is pretty galling given they cost between £749 and £1,349.

To add insult to injury neither phone comes with Apple’s £9 headphone jack adapter in the box. You’ll have to buy one if you want to use your normal wired headphones, though both phones ship with wired EarPods with Lightning connector.

The cameras on each phone differ quite a bit. The dual 12Mp sensors on the iPhone XS are superior and both have optical image stabilisation. One of the lenses is for telephoto to allow 2x zoom, and for depth sensing.

But, in an Apple first, the single camera on the iPhone XR is capable or portrait mode bokeh effect photos thanks to improvements in Apple’s post-processing software. While not as advanced as on the XS, you’ll be able to take pretty great photos on the XR too.

Both phones have the True Depth front facing camera array for Face ID and Animoji.

The iPhone XR will have better battery life than the XS thanks to its more energy friendly LCD display paired with a bigger battery capacity.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XR: Software and apps

The iPhone XS and XR will ship with iOS 12. It’s a decent upgrade from iOS 11, improving notification interaction most noticeably. Group FaceTime will also be introduced, finally.

Memoji also joins Animoji, allowing you to make a live reactive emoji of yourself to send to people on iMessage. It’s only available if you have an iPhone X, XS or XR as these phones have the True Depth cameras on the front.

iOS 12 also adds battery health data in settings to see how you’re pounding it into the ground. There are no software differences between the two phones.

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