Apple secretly invited a handful of YouTubers and influencers to their New York facility to give them some extra hands-on time with the upcoming iPhone XR. iMore has posted a number of the newly published videos and they all seem to have a similar vibe and overall theme.
These are not to be mistaken for full reviews. Apple still keeps a tight leash on reviews and embargoes. But make no mistake about it: These videos are Apple's way of generating PR prior to the official launch. They have used this method before when they introduced the iMac Pro.
One of the criticisms of this new style of event is that Apple locked out the traditional press, which is used to getting special access to pre-release hardware. This time, Apple included some of the traditional tech press. And it is presumed that the traditional press will have pre-release hardware for the full reviews.
The new round of hands-on videos focus on how similar the iPhone XR is to the more expensive models. One of the messages seems to be that by getting the iPhone XR, you don't need to fear missing out. The screen looks great. The performance is the same. And the headline features of the flagship phones are all present in the XR.The second message is that the camera is solid. Though there is only one camera on the rear of the phone, the Portrait photos are just as good. More than one of the videos noted that the XR does portraits with a wider angle, making it preferable than the more expensive phones in some cases. Finally, the colors are a big deal. It is not surprising that videographers would focus on bright colors because that is an easy new feature to show off. But it is more than that. People are drawn to the colorful devices, some even expressing regret for not waiting on the XR.
It is very clear that Apple emphasized a few talking points in the briefing. The early hands-on videos are delivering the message Apple wants users to hear. It is also a message Apple cannot directly give; and that message is that the XR is just as good as the XS, while being a lot less expensive.