Smartphones

Apple iPhone XR India Review: The Vibrant Alternative If you thought iPhone XR is the “affordable” cousin to premium range iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max then read on

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APPLE launched three new iPhones in 2018. While the iPhone XS and the XS Max were touted as premium range, many in India were eyeing iPhone XR. This is reminiscent of Apple’s launch of iPhone 5C, when consumers and tech journos alike let their imaginations run wild assuming it would be an “affordable iPhone”. In reality Apple never said that it was manufacturing an affordable phone. The company just stuck to its philosophy of providing seamless user experience and stickiness with the iOS ecosystem. This is also what iPhone XR is all about.

As it launches in India on October 26, at a starting price of Rs 76,900, we were amongst the lucky few who got to experience the device early on. In this review we take a look at Apple’s entry-level iPhone for 2018-19, the iPhone XR.

What’s in a name?

First, we would like to clarify it pronounced as “iPhone ten R”. Yes, the “X” is the Roman numeral “10” and not “X” as in “X-men”. We wanted to start with this, because ever since the iPhone X was introduced last year, most people have been calling it “iPhone X (ex)”. The confusion is plenty since Apple chose to go Roman like many other phones in the market. Now that we have put the naming conundrum to rest, let’s tell you all about iPhone XR.

iPhone XR India Review

Design

The iPhone XR, like the iPhone XS and XS Max, features an all-screen design with 6.1-inch display. The size sits iPhone XS and XS Max. The device looks similar to the iPhone XS, but feels different. It feels lighter and more matt-ish from its frame since it uses an aluminium finish frame as opposed to steel on iPhone XS and XS Max.

The aluminium band is aerospace grade and colour matched to six finishes the phone comes in. There is a bit of disparity in colours since they are on two different surfaces, but this contrast somehow makes this device stand out. The six colour options that the iPhone XR is available in are black, white, blue, yellow, coral, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone XR India Review

The one we used was the white colour variant of the iPhone XR. Apple claims the back glass on the XR is more durable than iPhone X. We couldn’t test that but the finish seemed definitely better. iPhone XR is splash, water and dust resistant with a rating of IP67. That means that this phone can survive for 30 minutes up to 1 meter under water. The iPhone XR also can withstand everyday spills including coffee, tea, soda and beer as well. Since this one comes with a glass back finish, needless to say it offers fast wireless charging as well.

The major difference in iPhone XR in comparison to iPhone XS and XS Max is that at the back there is a single camera module. Apple has put emphasis on the finish and feel of the materials used on the iPhone XR to make it different.

iPhone XR India Review

Display

The iPhone XR features a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display. This does not offer those deeper blacks that you get on the display of the iPhone XS and XS Max, but the difference is so minimal you wont notice it. Apple uses a precision-milled glass along with advanced pixel masking and sub-pixel anti-aliasing, which lets the display follow the curves of the device. The brightness is sufficient, reflectivity is as good as iPhone XS and iOS systemwide colour management delivers admirable colour accuracy. Like iPhone XS, the XR also uses an advanced six-channel ambient light sensor to subtly adjust the white balance onscreen to match the colour temperature of the light around you – also known as True Tone technology or True Tone display.

The display supports gestures like tap to wake, swipe up to the Home screen, swipe down to access notifications and the Control Center. What is missing, though, is the 3D touch that people were just getting used to since the launch of iPhone 6S. This means, you only get Dynamic and Still wallpaper options on this device.

iPhone XR India Review

iPhone XR offers 326 pixels per inches of pixel density ensuring the detailing is perfect. On the top you will find the iPhone X notch that’s pretty much become the industry standard. Streaming video content looks great on iPhone XR but while playing a game like PUBG or Asphalt, the notch does tend to hide a few keys or information points. So you’ll have to go into the settings of the game to adjust the controls.

Camera

One of the major changes that one notices with iPhone XR when compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max is the rear camera. The iPhone XR houses a single camera module, which integrates a 12MP wide-angle camera with f/1.8, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and 4K video recording capabilities at 60fps. The wide-angle camera used on the iPhone XR is the same module that’s seen on the iPhone XS. The iPhone XR also supports Smart HDR, that offers more highlighting and shadow detailing to the images you take. Just like the iPhone XS, the XR’s camera offers deeper and larger pixels, ensuring true to life colours as well as improved low-light imaging.

iPhone XR India Review

What was not so surprising, though, was that with some software magic, Apple iPhone XR is capable of shooting portrait mode images with bokeh effect just like dual-camera iPhones. This was first seen on the Google Pixel XL last year when with a single lens, it could click bokeh effect images. The real difference between, the iPhone XR and iPhone XS’ Portrait mode is that instead of five portrait light settings, you only get three.

The Stage Lighting and Stage Mono portrait light mode is not available on the iPhone XR. What’s also remarkable is while iPhone XS and XS Max captures portraits in a telephoto mode, something that you get on a Canon Mark IV with a 70-200 lens, iPhone XR clicks portraits in a wider frame. This we found useful while clicking two to three subjects in portrait mode on the iPhone XR. Another interesting feature is one does not have to move a lot to enable portrait lighting on the iPhone XR.

When it comes to clicking portrait selfies on the front camera of the iPhone XR, which is the same as iPhone XS, it offers all five, portrait lighting modes. The iPhone XR also offers depth control for touching up bokeh images once you have clicked them and there is also all the other image and video recording modes that come as standard on an iPhone.

iPhone XR India Review

An innovative single-camera system integrates the 12MP wide-angle camera, ISP, Neural Engine and advanced algorithms so you can take amazing photos. This is the same wide-angle camera sensor as iPhone XS, with deeper and larger pixels for improved colour fidelity and better low-light photos. Smart HDR brings more highlight and shadow detail across your photos. Machine learning enables Portrait mode, and all-new Depth Control lets you adjust the depth of field of your portraits after you shoot.

There is also a Quad-LED True Tone flash that offers improved uniformity of colour across subjects. In addition to that you also get a flicker detect sensor, for auto white balance in photos for more true-to-life colours.

iPhone XR India Review

Performance

iPhone XR is a device that has a slightly light hardware modules to run and it does that on iOS 12 with an ease that even made us wonder of the XR faster than the XS? Well the difference might be minimal, but the user experience is quite intuitive and fun. This is because iPhone XR runs on the same A12 Bionic chipset that the XS and XS Max run on. So, in terms of performance the iPhone XR is as good as the iPhone XS Max or the iPhone XS.

(Read iPhone XS Max review here)

iPhone XR India Review

In terms of connectivity, iPhone XR offers Dual SIM compatibility, similar to iPhone XS and XS Max. The Dual SIM is enabled with a nano-SIM and eSIM. The eSIM technology is developed by Apple, used on iPad’s, Apple Watch Cellular and the new iPhone XS, XS Max. This capability will coming later this year, and can be activated by scanning a QR code from your carrier or provider. Currently in India only Jio and Airtel have the capabilities to offer eSIM, so if you are on a Vodafone you’ll have to use the physical SIM card slot.

iPhone XR is not available in 512 GB storage option, the available options are 64GB, 128GB and 256GB.

Apple iPhone XR also supports all AR games and Apps. There are Animoji’s on the iPhone XR that comes preloaded with the device. The TrueDepth front camera of the iPhone XR captures and analyses over 50 different facial muscle movements, then animates these expressions in more than a dozen different Animojis, including a panda, unicorn, robot our your own avatar.

Verdict

Starting at a price tag of Rs 76,900 for the 64GB version and the top-end 256GB iPhone XR costing Rs 91,900, this is as vibrant an iPhone you can get in 2018.

For those contemplating buying iPhone 8 Plus, we say, if you do not want to spend north of Rs 1 lakh for an iPhone and are willing to let go of features like 3D touch or 512 GB storage, the iPhone XR should be your natural choice.

It is always better to buy a new iPhone version than an old one just to save a few bucks.

~END~

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