Geek Stuff

Back Market Lab: test of the iPhone XR or the genius little brother

September 2019

Released a few months after its two big brothers (the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max), the iPhone XR is not only available at a more affordable price, but it is without hesitation one of the best smartphones on the market. With the same processor as the XS, the best LCD screen on the market and a 12 megapixel main camera sensor, the little brother has absolutely no reason to envy its elders, or the competition.  


The iPhone XR in short

Performance and battery life worthy of a space rocket


Let it be said from the off: the performance of the iPhone XR needs envy absolutely nothing of the iPhone XS. On the contrary. Armed with the same chip as the XS, namely the famous Apple A12 Bionic 6-core (the best on the market), the XR runs all applications fluidly, even the hungriest 3D video games. The iOS 12 runs without slowing down and offers a quite impeccable everyday usage quality.

With 3 GB of RAM (1 less than the XS), the iPhone XR is even better on some applications. This feat can be explained in part by the screen definition, which is lower than that of the XS and therefore less demanding.

… and autonomous

What about the battery? This is where the XR beats its elders hands down. Equipped with a battery of greater capacity than the XS, but with a lower definition display and resolution, the result is not very surprising. The iPhone XR charge lasts about two days in normal use (a day and a half if you push it to its limits). This is better than the Galaxy S9, but not as good as the OnePlus 6.


Ergonomics and design: a “massive” but elegant little brother

Here, some small concessions are in evidence.


3D Touch

First, Apple has decided to put its 3D Touch technology to one side for some obscure reason. Result, users may not find all their shortcuts.


A bit chunky?

The edge of the smartphone is thicker than that of the iPhone XS, which gives it a larger appearance. Especially since the phone weighs almost 20 g more. If we combine the thickness of the edges to the size of the screen (6.1″ versus 5.8″ for the XS), we obviously obtain a smartphone that is not as easy to handle for small hands.

Jack, where are you?

Finally, this model has no microSD card reader or mini-jack port. And like its big brothers, the iPhone XR does not have a physical button or fingerprint reader on the front. But not to worry, the Face ID facial recognition technology comes to the rescue. And unlocking is just as fast.

A colorful phone

On the positive side, we welcome the return of the 6 colors (black, red, blue, white, yellow, coral), abandoned since the iPhone 5c and its IP67 certified watertightness (which simply means that it can support a dip at 1 meter for 30 minutes) and dust resistance.

The infamous LCD screen

One of two notable Apple concessions for the iPhone XR concerns the screen. Equipped with an LCD display and not an Oled like the XS or XS Max, the screen covers 79% of the front panel (against 82% for the XS). In real terms, the contrasts are less pronounced and the definition is lower (1791 * 828). Unless you are a purist, however, the difference is almost impossible to detect with the naked eye. So yes, even if it is not full HD, the iPhone XR offers sufficient display finesse for all daily uses, and with responsiveness that is quite acceptable.

One small quibble if we are nit-picking: make sure to look at the screen full on, especially in bright sunlight. The display loses much of its brightness when at an angle.

  And for the artists?

The camera

Second annoying point: the camera. Unlike its big brothers, the iPhone XR has only one rear sensor, the same as the main focus of the XS, 12 Mpx and a focal length of 26mm, with 1.4 μm pixels. The XR can still shoot in portrait mode, but only of human faces. It does not offer a 2x optical zoom and it struggles to render the details of a landscape as finely as the iPhone XS or XS Max. It is also not as good in selfie mode, with its 7 Mpx sensor.

These differences will especially bother regular users of iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus or photo enthusiasts, although the iPhone XR has enough qualities to allow very good normal use. In broad daylight, it provides sufficient detail with excellent white balance management. It is in low light that it loses out to its competitors, especially the Google Pixel 3.

In terms of video, the smartphone is still able to shoot in 4K up to 60 frames per second, just like the XS. The rendering is excellent and fluid.

The audio

The sound of the speakers is pleasant up to 75% of the maximum volume. After that the distortion becomes noticeable.


What of the planet in all this?

We are very aware that Apple has shown considerable effort in its commitment to the environment, especially during the development of the XR. But what are the facts? As surprising as it may seem, Apple is right behind Fairphone in a Greenpeace report. The NGO congratulates Apple for its use of renewable energy and cleaner materials than its competitors. However, it decries the difficulty of repairing and recycling devices, even if the iPhone XR is the easiest of the siblings to repair according to iFixit. It also seems that Apple is not at all interested in improving this aspect, since the firm continues to lobby in the United States against the right of users to repair their iPhones. And of course you know very well that for us, at Back Market, this is important.

Verdict, Apple is still doing better than its big competitors, Samsung and Huawei, who use much more contentious materials and more questionable energy sources.


The Doc’s diagnosis

“The iPhone XR is the soft version of the XS and XS max iPhones. Apple offers us an iPhone at an attractive price of below € 1,000, rich in color, with better autonomy, and available with 3 storage capacities (64, 128 and 256GB). The format is attractive and the technical performance is up to scratch. The iPhone XR overall test is very positive.

On the other hand, its sole rear camera deprives it of the optical zoom and limits the capacities of portrait mode.”

Joseph from Back Market.

Pictures taken with an iPhone XR

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