Review: Apple iPhone XR

My wife recently wanted to upgrade her iPhone, which was my iPhone 7 Plus which was replaced by my iPhone XS and was an upgrade from an iPhone 6 for two reasons. One is that she was having a tough time selling the iPhone 6 used. No shock there as the upcoming iOS 13 won’t support it. The second reason is that she wanted to have a more recent phone to ensure that she would continue to get software updates for as long as possible that’s under AppleCare for two years. Thus she took both these phones to our local Apple Store and traded them in for a 128GB (PRODUCT) RED iPhone XR. Also of note, she also got this Belkin screen protector and this case from OtterBox to protect the phone.

When it comes to the screen, my wife says it’s a an upgrade from her 7 Plus as you get more real estate. But you can still use it easily as my wife has small hands and an iPhone XS Max will be unusable for her. Plus the physical size isn’t much different than the 7 Plus the was using before. At this time, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. The iPhone XR has a 720p liquid retina LCD screen. But it has 326 pixels per inch which is the same as Apple’s previous LCD screens, and it looks insanely sharp. And pictures and video look very, very good. So neither my wife or I think you will have any complaints. But if you want a 1080p phone, Apple has an iPhone XS or XS Max that they’d like to sell you.

According to my wife, it’s a significant upgrade in terms of speed versus her 7 Plus. You can attribute that to the A12 Bionic processor which is very quick to say the least. but not at the expense of battery life. My wife reported that she has between 25% and 50% battery life at the end of the day depending on what she was doing. The iPhone 7 Plus by comparison would be sucking fumes and would be in need of a recharge.

Face ID is a game changer for my wife. While it does have issues with unlocking first thing in the morning (which is something that I have noted), it works well. Though my wife is always mindful of how to disable Face ID in a hurry using these instructions if the need arises as she values her privacy. Getting used to the gestures that make up for the fact that there is not a home button only took her a couple of days for the most part. She’s still getting used to pulling control center from the top right for example, but it wasn’t a hard transition.

In terms of the camera, here’s where we found some interesting results. My wife and I planned to copy the test methodology that I used for the iPhione XS, and we’re glad we did as we noticed one big difference. Namely in portrait mode. When you try to take an image of a non human object, you get this:


Portrait mode only works with people. Which appears to be a software limitation as third party camera apps like this one can do portrait photos. Shame on you Apple.

In terms of taking photos, the 12MP camera does a great jobs in a variety of lighting conditions. Here’s some examples:





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And in terms of video, here’s a 4K 30FPS video that my wife shot at Pearson International Airport:

This video is clear, sharp, and the audio is great. There’s no complaints on this front.

Gripes? Two comes to mind:

  • There’s no Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box. So if you are like my wife and you prefer wired headphones rather than using wireless ones like the EarPods or the Beats ones that Apple wants you to buy, you’ll have to buy one from the Apple Store for $10 and live the dongle life accordingly. Not including this dongle is a complete #Fail on Apple’s part.
  • Another #Fail is the 5W power adapter that comes in the box when the iPhone is capable of charging far faster using one of Apple’s 12W chargers or Apple’s 30W USB-C charger. Apple, it’s 2019 and phones need to come with fast chargers.
  • It seems to have issues with my wife’s Belkin iPhone and Apple Watch charger. This is something that I have noted before with my iPhone XS and is likely Belkin’s issue.

The best part about this phone is the price. By iPhone standards it’s cheap. It starts at $1029 CDN for 64GB, $1099 CDN for 128GB, and $1239 CDN for 256GB. I’ve argued in the past that this is the best value in an iPhone and my wife agrees. It has a great mix of features at something approaching anything that could be deemed affordable. Though she did have to trade in two phones to get this one. While that saved her over $400 CDN, it illustrates that Apple has some work to do on their pricing. Still, it’s easy to see why this is Apple’s best selling phone. At least until the next iPhones come out.

5 Responses to “Review: Apple iPhone XR”

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  3. […] Tough Armor Case on it. But to make sure that everything worked properly, I tested my wife’s iPhone XR with her Otterbox case on […]

  4. […] is how easy it is to find items. To make it interesting, I enlisted the help of my wife and her iPhone XR. The plan was that we would put AirTags on our house keys and leave them in our car. Then take a […]

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