Earlier this week, we took a look at how the 9.7-inch and iPad Pro compare, outlining which you should buy this holiday season. Another popular gift this season is bound to be the iPhone, and with Apple selling both the iPhone XR and iPhone XS, there might be some questions about which is best for most people. Read on for our full iPhone XR vs iPhone XS comparison.

iPhone XR:

The iPhone XR is the most affordable iPhone Apple sells with the iPhone X-style design. This means you get smaller bezels, a notch cutout, and Face ID support. One thing to note is that due to the LCD display used here instead of OLED, the bezels on the iPhone XR are slightly larger than those on the iPhone XS.

In terms of that 6.1-inch display, the iPhone XR LCD “Liquid Retina” panel gets you a 1792×828 resolution for 326 pixels-per-inch. This is notably lower than the resolutions of 458 pixels-per-inch found on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS, but it’s still a fantastic screen overall.

iPhone XR vs iPhone XS

The iPhone XR features a single camera lens on the back, compared to the two lens system found on the iPhone XS. However, Apple is using new software algorithms to support features such as Portrait Mode and Smart HDR.

As for iPhone XR vs iPhone XS performance, you’ll see identical results thanks to an identical A12 Bionic processor. Early testing shows that the iPhone XR also features better battery life than the iPhone XS with its LCD display:

  1. iPhone XR: 12h 25m
  2. iPhone 8 Plus: 10h 10m
  3. iPhone XS Max: 10h 06m

Arguably one of the biggest downsides of all on the iPhone XR is the lack of 3D Touch support. Apple has replaced the feature with a more limited “Haptic Touch” functionality, though it will be getting slightly better with iOS 12.1.1.

The iPhone XR starts at $749 for 64GB of storage and increases to $799 for 128GB and $899 for 256GB. That $50 jump from 64GB to 128GB is a notable deal compared to Apple’s usual storage pricing. The iPhone XR is available in six colors: white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and (PRODUCT)RED.

Read our full review of the iPhone XR here.

If you’re planning to pick up an iPhone XR, here are some of our favorite cases, especially notable since Apple continues to lack any official options.

Best iPhone XR cases:

  • Spigen Ultra Hybrid Clear Case – $11.99
  • TOZO Slim Fit Matte Finish Case – $9.99
  • OtterBox Comutter Series Case – $34.99
  • Totallee iPhone XR Case Ultra Slim – $27.97

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max:

iPhone XR vs iPhone XR

The iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch display, while the iPhone XS Max packs a 6.5-inch display. Both panels are OLED, which means you get darker blacks and brighter colors than the LCD panel on the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XS also features a more premium design than the iPhone XR. The display stretches ever-so-slightly closer to the borders, while the edges are made out of stainless steel as opposed to aluminum like the iPhone XR. You get the same A12 Bionic processor and Face ID system here as well.

As mentioned earlier, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max feature dual-camera systems on the back for more advanced Portrait Mode and HDR capabilities. Most notably, however, this dual-lens system enables 2x optical zoom, which means you can zoom in on subjects without comprising the quality of your images.

The iPhone XS is the best for people who want either the most premium iPhone you can buy or those who want the smallest possible screen while also retaining the edge-to-edge design with Face ID. At 5.8-inches, the iPhone XS is the smallest iPhone with such features, as the iPhone XR measures 6.1-inches despite its lower price tag.

The iPhone XS starts at $999 for 64GB and increases to $1,149 for 256GB, and $1,359 for 512GB. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099 for 64GB, $1,249 for 256GB, and $1,449 for 512GB. Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are available in three colors: silver, space gray, and gold.

Read our full review of the iPhone XS here.

Best iPhone XS & iPhone XS Max cases:

Which should you buy? iPhone XR vs iPhone XS:

In the end, for most people, the iPhone XR is the best iPhone you can buy today. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the iPhone XS, but it’s still an excellent device at a price point that’s $250 lower than the iPhone XS and $350 lower than the iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XR vs iPhone XS debate can seem confusing at first, but the iPhone XR largely excels at things that iPhone buyers care most about, including camera, design, and battery life – and perhaps even the wider color selection makes it more enticing for some. While the iPhone XS offers a more premium experience overall, things like stainless steel edges are unlikely to warrant the higher price tag for most.

Do you plan on picking up an iPhone XS or iPhone XR for anyone this holiday season? What do you think of the iPhone XR vs iPhone XS debate? Let us know down in the comments.

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About the Author

Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to chance@9to5mac.com