Amid all the enthusiastic coverage of iPhone XR, it’s difficult to notice some of the things absent from the device. Those things are the details that represent the difference between the iPhone XR at $749 and the iPhone XS for $999.
That $250 price difference has to be accounted for on something besides the profit and loss sheet at Apple. There is a difference. And it is important to understand what you are paying for and what you are not. Many reviews are written as if there were no real differences.
Here are the differences. It is up to you to decide how important they are:
1. The Display
The actual resolution may not be important. No one looks at resolutions. They look at images as they appear on displays. And by all accounts, the images on the less expensive iPhone are great. But they are not as good as those that appear on the more expensive options. The Verge has a lot to say about the display.
The difference is lower resolution LCD vs. higher resolution OLED. This may not be a $250 difference to you. But the technology in OLED is much better as implemented in the more expensive phones.
The front cameras are the same on both phones. The rear cameras are a little different. The XR has a single camera and it is missing the excellent 2X zoom lens on the XS.
The camera difference is most pronounced when taking Portrait mode photos. The XR relies more heavily on software to do the job. The portraits are at a wider angle which is not necessarily what you are going for when taking a proper portrait. The lighting mode is also limited to three as opposed to five options. And the mode will not work at all except on human faces. iPhone XS Portrait mode will work on just about anything.
The glass on the front of all the new phones is the same. The glass on the back is different. The back of iPhone XR is slightly better than that on iPhone X from last year. The rear glass is better on iPhone XS.
There is also the band around the edge of the phone. It is stainless steel on the premium phones and aluminum on the less expensive one.
There is a faster form of LTE in town, but probably not your town, and probably not your carrier. However, if you fit the perfect demographic, iPhone XS can handle the faster protocol. iPhone XR cannot.
6. 3-D Touch
The premium iPhones maintain the 3-D Touch feature where you press down on an element of the screen and get contextual options along with haptic feedback. The XR drops this feature and substitutes Haptic Touch. It is similar, but not present in most places where 3-D Touch is available.
Altogether, these do seem to add up to $250 worth of difference. According to reviewers, they are good compromises. With iPhone XR, you may not miss what you are missing, But at least you know what they are.