Tech Talk

iPhone XR vs XS

Oct 25, 2022 Marco Mai

Next in line after Apple’s successful iPhone X launch is the addition of the iPhone XS and XR to the mix. The comparison of the two models can cause some confusion due to the fact that Apple had been pretty linear when it came to the naming of their products. The likes of a new line of product ending with XR intrigued many, much like the iPhone 5C release.  Although the phones might look similar in appearance, they’re some key differences that need to be considered when comparing the two. 


Following the iPhone X, Apple returned to the same edge-to-edge display with the XS and XR but brought along some more improvements to the phone all around. From new developments to processing power, enhanced camera technology, and video recording advancements. It can be tough choosing from the more colorful iPhone XR to the technical powerhouse that is the iPhone XS.


Throughout this article, we will be diving deeper and discussing the key differences of the iPhone XR and iPhone XS, hand in hand.


This table highlights the difference in specification between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR.


iPhone XS

iPhone XR

Release date

September 2018

October 2018

Screen size



Height & width

5.7” x 2.8”

5.9” x 3”





6.24 oz

6.84 oz


A12 Bionic Chip with 2nd generation Neural Engine

A12 Bionic Chip with 2nd generation Neural Engine

Display type

OLED with Super Retina HD display

LCD with Liquid Retina HD display

Pixel density

2436 x 1125 pixel resolution at 458ppi

1792 x 828 pixel resolution at 326ppi

Contrast & color

1,000,000:1 contrast ratio & HDR display 

1400:1 contrast ratio, no HDR display

Front-facing camera 

Portrait lighting & 7MP w/ FaceID

Portrait lighting & 7MP w/ FaceID

Front-facing video

1080p HD video, 30fps or 60fps

1080p HD video, 30fps or 60fps

Back-facing camera

Dual, 12MP Wide & Telephoto

Singe 12MP Wide

Back-facing video

4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps; 2x optical zoom; 6x digital zoom 

1080p HD video, 30 or 60 fps, extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps; 3x digital zoom

Portrait lighting (front & back)

Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono

Natural, studio, contour

Photo HDR (front & back)

Smart HDR

Smart HDR

Audio playback

Wider Stereo 

Wider stereo

Video playback

High dynamic range with Dolby Vision & HDR10 content

Supports Dolby Vision & HDR10 content

Battery power



Video playback (battery)

Up to 14 hrs

Up to 16 hrs

Audio playback (battery)

Up to 60 hrs

Up to 65 hrs

Internal storage

64GB, 256 GB or 512GB

64GB or 128GB


3D Touch

Haptic Touch


Dual SIM (nano SIM & eSIM)

Dual SIM (nano SIM & eSIM)

Operating system at release


iOS 12


Glass & stainless steel

Glass & aluminum


Silver, Space Gray, and Gold

Red, yellow, white, coral, black, blue

Price, at time of release



Current price, new



Current price, pre-owned

~$550*, $499**

$479-499*, $387**

*Best Buy

Observing the specs in the above table, you are able to identify some key differences between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR. However, both phones do have some similarities and we will list those in the table below.

Operating system

iOS 12

Processing Chip

A12 Bionic chip with


Neural Engine


625 nits max


Face ID

Splash and dust resistant

Rated IP67

Front-facing camera flash

Retina True flash

Back-facing camera flash

True Tone flash with Slow Sync


True Depth for facial recognition


Optical image stabilization


Built-in, rechargeable Lithium-ion


Via USB, supports wireless charging & fast-charge capable

Audio Output

No headphone jack; comes with EarPods with lightning connector


Not compatible with existing micro-SIM cards


Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Three-axis Gyro Sensor, Digital Compass, Barometer, Gyro Sensor






802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO


Bluetooth 5.0

Other (cellular & wireless)

Built-in GPS/GNSS, VoLTE, NFC with reader mode, Express Cards, WiFi calling





When Apple released the iPhone XS and iPhone XR in late 2018, they were both set to replace the previous iPhone X model in some ways. Introducing the iPhone XS at $999 at the time of release, it was marketed to be the successor of the innovative iPhone X model due to the similarities of each other. Apple also catered to those that were in need of an upgrade but did not have the funds to purchase the next best iPhone. The iPhone XR was going to be just that and with the MSRP set at $749, this made it more affordable to many consumers. Although as time continued, the price would slowly decrease and these phones would begin to end up in the pre-owned marketplace. The decision between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR can be challenging so knowing the differences between them is important.



The iPhone XS and XR models carry over a similar feature that was a fan favorite from the iPhone X. Both devices have edge-to-edge displays which cover the entire front screen with a touchscreen display. As you may notice starting with the iPhone X, the edgeless display removes the feature of a home button and is replaced with swiping gestures that are explained during the setup of the phone.

The physical conditions of the phone begin to differ with the way both iPhones are made. The iPhone XS is made of glass and stainless steel combo, with a stainless steel band wrapping around the edge of two glass covered front and back panels. This limits the color options of the XS (Silver, Space Grey, Gold). However, the iPhone XR has many different color options (Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, and Red) thanks to the aluminum outlining of the phone around the two glass panels. These color combinations of the iPhone XR resemble Apple’s release of the iPhone 5C back in 2013.

One of the most noticeable differences between the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR is in the body of the two phones. The XR is slightly larger and heavier overall compared to the iPhone XS. Measuring at 0.2 inches taller and wider, and 0.03 inches thicker than the iPhone XS. Also, weighing in at 6.84 oz compared the iPhone XS at 6.24 oz. Furthermore, consequently of the larger dimension, the screen size of the XR is slightly increased by a 0.3” diagonal.



The iPhone XS is the clear winner when it comes to display technology compared to the iPhone XR. The display of the XS is equipped with cutting-edge Organic LED (OLED) technology, which allows the contrasts between the different colors and intensities of blacks/whites more apparent. The XR rocks the classic back-lit LCD display that has been used in previous models of iPhones. The difference of the two displays is not a huge contrast, but is definitely there.

The pixel resolution of the XS comes in at 2436 x 1125 compared to the XR’s 1792 x 828. Although the resolution is slightly larger on the XS, the difference cannot be seen with the human eye. The more considerable difference is found in the contrast. The XS’s contrast ratio clocks in at 1,000,000:1 whereas the XR’s is a pale 1,400:1. The massive difference is caused by the OLED powered display in the XS compared to the LCD display of the XR.



The camera is one of the best features of the iPhone XS that blows the iPhone XR out of the water. The XS is equipped with dual 12MP Wide and Telephoto cameras while the XR only comes with a single 12MP Wide camera. This allows for more photo opportunities and editing options when it comes to the XS. If you are willing to sacrifice a bit extra cash for a more developed and well-rounded camera, then the iPhone XS is the way to go.

Hardware: One clear difference between the XS and XR are the number of rear-facing camera lenses. The X has a dual lens while the XR has only one rear, wide-angle lens. Both cameras are 12MP cameras that offer trueDepth technology for facial recognition.

Even though the iPhone XR does not come with a second lens, the XR still offers the portrait mode technology. In addition, the iPhone XS offers five portrait lighting options (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High‑Key Mono), while the XR has only three (natural, studio, and contour).

Software: The iPhone XS takes advantage of the iPhone XR’s lack of a camera arsenal. This includes the iPhone XS having a higher digital zoom of up to 10x, while the XR can only digitally zoom up to 5x. Both models are equally equipped with high 4K video recording and are enhanced with smart HDR technology for photos.


How well a phone performs, and how long it will last, are often of the utmost importance to consumers. There is a slight difference between the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR in this category when it comes to outright power output.

In terms of operating systems and processing, the iPhone XS wins the battle with operations running with 4GB of RAM while the XR model uses 3GB of RAM. Both devices were released running the updated iOS 12 version and are now supported by Apple’s newest iOS 13. The iPhone XS and XR run on the same CPU as each other. They are bolstered with a A12 bionic chip with a 2nd generation neural engine and offer extraordinary power through all of its applications. The iPhone XS is available in 64G, 256G, and 512G while the XR offers 64G and 128G.

Furthermore, there is a slight difference in the battery specs of both devices. The iPhone XS offers up to 14 hours of video playback or 60 hours of audio, while the XR does a little more with up to 16 hours of video or 65 hours of audio. This difference is not astronomical, but it can have an effect on the battery’s life span.  With all the battery information listed above, ultimately, the life of a single charge of the battery depends on how often and how hard you are pushing the phone to it’s limit. 4 hours of video editing and YouTube watching will definitely deplete the battery faster than 4 hours of texting and listening to music. Ultimately, the iPhone XR wins this category.



While the iPhone XS and iPhone XR have much in common they both come with their noticeable differences. From contrasts in size dimensions to camera and display technology, both phones are still innovative top-tier Apple phones. The XR’s price point made it an obvious competitor, but over time, the other differences have become more important. For users looking for the very best in display aesthetics, photography, and power, the XS may be the phone to go with. However, if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of processing power and advanced display technology to save some cash, then consumers might opt-in for the XR. With all the information concerning the differences of both phones in this article, they are both exceptional and offer many features that other phones in the market wish to have. No matter the decision, you will likely be pleased with the quality and cutting edge technology offered by the iPhone XS and iPhone XR.


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