iPhone XR review: hands on with Apple's entry-level new iPhone

Is this actually the best new iPhone Apple just announced?

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Yesterday Apple announced the iPhone XR, a lower-cost new iPhone that sits beneath the American maker's new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max flagships. Our colleague Gareth Beavis over at T3's sister site TechRadar has had some serious hands-on time with the iPhone XR and these are his thoughts.

The new iPhone XR's release date is pencilled in for October 26, with pre-orders going live on October 19.

In terms of price, the iPhone XR retails for less than the iPhone XS, costing $749 to pick up at launch. Gareth recons that the lower price will make the iPhone XR the best selling new iPhone revealed this year.

iPhone XR review: design and screen

iPhone XR review

Design-wise TechRadar's Gareth Beavis says that next to the iPhone XS the new iPhone XR is "not quite as attractive", pointing out its thicker bezels and drawing your attention to the fact that its edges aren't made out of  the same premium-feeling materials.

That being said, on its own he notes it "could  be mistaken for the iPhone X of last year".

In the hand Gareth notes that it feels as an iPhone should, with curved edges, two speaker grilles at the bottom, and a glass back, but that it feels noticeably chunkier than the more expensive XS and XS Max handsets.

Connections-wise Gareth confirms there is no headphone port, but that a pair of Lightning connector earbuds come packed in the box.

Overall, Beavis feels that "the ‘cheap’ iPhone certainly doesn’t feel that way", and he came away from its design and build quality impressed.

Moving on to the iPhone XR's screen, TechRadar's Gareth Beavis reports that it is a 18:9, 6.1-inch LCD "Liquid Retina" panel, which is cheaper to make than the OLED panels fitted to the iPhone XS and XS Max. Beavis believes this is where most of the cost saving has been generated for the model.

The phone feels like a plus-size device in the hand according to Gareth, but he notes that it "doesn’t feel unwieldy due to the fact the display stretches from edge to edge."

iPhone XR review: camera and battery

iPhone XR review

Gareth is very clear in his summation of the iPhone XR's camera system, which he states is "the weakest of the three phones" just announced by the American maker.

The phone has a single 12MP rear sensor, rather than the two on the XS and XS Max, while the front comes installed with a TrueDepth camera for facial unlocking and selfies.

Gareth does note though that the camera system also supports Smart HDR, which allows the iPhone XR to "really capture the high-end elements of a photo, fusing the light and dark elements well", and that the pictures he took were clear, sharp and colourful.

As such, Gareth concludes that providing you don't want loads of advanced features, no "bells and whistles", then the camera system on the iPhone XR "will do you just fine."

Finally, TechRadar's Gareth Beavis states that, despite not being able to test the potency of the iPhone XR's battery, which remains an unknown quantity in terms  of mAh, he believes "there are a few good reasons to think that the iPhone XR could have better battery life than expected."

Those reasons? The fact that Apple has likely put less RAM in to the iPhone XR compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max, and the screen resolution is likely going to be less, too. Both factors that should conserve energy in comparison.

Gareth does warn though that "we’ve been burned by iPhones not lasting as well as we’d like in the past", and reiterates that proper testing will be needed to evaluate how good the iPhone XR's battery is.

iPhone XR review: early verdict

iPhone XR review

Overall, then, TechRadar's Gareth Beavis concludes that the iPhone XR is likely going to be Apple's "volume driver" over the next year in terms of sales, and especially so in the Asian market, which may go to explain the slightly odd, larger than XS screen.

T3 will imminently be reviewing the iPhone XS in full, so be sure to check back in soon for our official verdict. Techradar's Apple iPhone XR hands on can be enjoyed in full, at a time that suits you, right now.