It’s time to talk about the iPhone XR. I anointed the 2018 Mac Mini as the computer that Steve Wozniak would’ve built if he started building computers this year and the XR for me is the device that Steve Jobs would’ve demanded if he were still around.
Sounds like a little crazy talk given the sales issues Apple has faced since releasing the device, but hear me out. Apple could’ve delivered and iPhone 9 with the familiar home button design, but the company went bold by not offering alternatives. XR is a fully-fledged X device complete with secure Face ID, the most powerful mobile chipset on the planet and a gorgeous display.
Yes the bezels are thicker than its more premium siblings and it’s also an LCD panel as opposed to the currently trendy OLED. But this is an Apple LCD that supports the full DCI-P3 colour space and is calibrated at the factory. Apple even cured the backlight bleed problem that Huawei and LG struggled with on the P20 and G7 ThinQ with some trick pixel proportioning – the pixels around the edge are smaller to mask the backlight along with some excellent software controls.
Sub-1080p resolution and 326ppi is fine. You won’t notice it unless you actually own a XS and use it alongside the cheaper device.
The real champion here though is the battery life. Much like the stand out feature of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, if you care about good battery life and use iPhones, this is your next phone. Seriously, stop reading this review and go and buy it now. XR consistently returned over 5 hours of screen on time with heavy use. This is the best battery life ever on an iPhone.
I’ve also been impressed by the camera quality and there’s none of the portrait mode quality loss that comes from using the telephoto lens.
There’s only one camera to be found on the back of the XR and it’s a noticeable improvement over last year’s iPhone 8.
That brings me to my final point, actually. Last year I was convinced that the iPhone 8 was the most sensible purchase for iPhone users. I wasn’t wrong because the addition of wireless charging and the AI-capable CPU closed the gap on the Android competition. I didn’t think that Apple had the capacity to eclipse that device within 12 months. This is the new default device for iPhone users that should last you until the next major update. And the bonus is that you can get it in a colour that matches your personality.
There are two things that hold all the new iOS devices back from true greatness and that’s the inherent limitations within the operating system. Chiefly the non-existent file management system and broken Bluetooth functionality. One day Apple will join the world in allowing users to organize their own files and share across devices via Bluetooth. It would be nice to have a headphone jack as well.
While my nostalgia still keeps a fondness for the beautiful design and ergonomics of the iPhone 5s and, by extension, the SE, it’s time to embrace the new age of tall displays, water resistance, excellent stereo speakers and fast wireless charging. iPhone XR is the embodiment of all of those things without the exorbitant cost of the X family. It is the new default and the stellar iPhone 8 is now the only game in town for those wanting a screen below five inches for ultimate one-handed freedom.
Now if only Apple could make it a couple grams lighter.