Fact: The iPhone XR Display Does Not Suck

When the new iPhones came out, I argued that the iPhone XR was the best value of all the three new iPhones. But something that people keep telling me is that I should not recommend it because the display sucks. Specifically, in the age of 1080p or higher OLED, the iPhone XR’s 720p display appears to lag behind.

But that’s not true. Here’s why.

Keep in mind that this display is one of Apple’s retina displays. That means that starting with the iPhone 4, Apple doubled the amount of pixels in every point. Then with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple tripled the amount of pixels in every point. But they also only went with a 1080p display. So, they used a scaler to take that three pixels per point image and squeeze it down onto that 1080p display. All that changed with the iPhone XS Max and XR which did the following:

  • For the iPhone XS Max, Apple isn’t using a scaler on the OLED display panel which has three pixels per point. The result is a 2688-by-1242-pixel resolution at 458 ppi.
  • For the iPhone XR, Apple is using a LCD display that has two pixels per point which serves up a 1792-by-828-pixel resolution at 326 ppi.

Okay so it’s not at pixel dense as an OLED display. But unlike some of their other LCD screens, it doesn’t use scaling. Which means you get a flicker free (assuming you noticed any flickering at all) and sharp image. If you looked at photos on it or watched a YouTube video, the results would be beyond good enough that you’d forget that this is a 720p display. There is one catch though. HDR or High Dynamic Range. You can’t do that on an LCD. Which means it’s not going to be as color accurate as it could be. If that matters to you, an iPhone XS or XS Max is in your future. For most people, it’s a total non issue.

So here’s the bottom line. Sure the iPhone XR has a 720p display. But if you dig deeper, you’ll see that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to that display. My advice is that you should walk into an Apple Store and look at it first hand. I seriously doubt that you’ll be disappointed with what you see.


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