Camera Comparison: iPhone XR vs. iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XR and the iPhone XS models share many similarities, but one major difference is the rear camera setup. While the iPhone XS features a dual-lens camera system with both wide-angle and telephoto lenses, the iPhone XR has a single wide-angle camera lens.

In our latest YouTube video, we compared the cameras of the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS Max to see how much of a difference you're really going to see with the single lens camera vs. the dual-lens camera.


Though the iPhone XR doesn't have two lenses to work with, it still has many of the same features that are available in the iPhone XS, enabled through a bit of software magic.

Smart HDR, the feature that combines multiple images to bring out more detail in the shadows and highlights of photographs, is available on both the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, as are Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, and Depth Control, which is an option that lets you adjust the amount of background blur in an image.

iphonexrxsportraitmode

iPhone XR vs. iPhone XS Portrait Mode

On the iPhone XR, Portrait Mode, which blurs the background of an image while keeping the foreground sharp, only works when a person is in the frame. That means you can't get Portrait Mode shots of pets, flowers, food, or other objects.

You can do non-person Portrait Mode photos on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max because two cameras are used together to calculate depth information. The single camera on the iPhone XR provides less detailed depth information for photographs, so it needs to use person detection to separate the foreground from the background.

On the plus side, because the iPhone XR exclusively uses the f/1.8 wide-angle lens for Portrait Mode photos and does not need to rely on the smaller aperture f/2.4 telephoto lens that's in the iPhone XS, Portrait Mode images taken in low light can turn out better than Portrait Mode photos on the XS because the wider lens lets in more ambient light.

iphonexrxslowlightportrait

iPhone XR vs. iPhone XS Portrait Mode in low light

With Portrait Mode photos, the iPhone XR struggles a bit with edge detection and the images can be softer than those captured with the iPhone XS due to the lack of a telephoto lens and less depth information to work with. Portrait Mode photos on both devices can be edited with different Depth Control and Portrait Lighting features, though there are two less Portrait Lighting options on the XR.

When taking standard non-Portrait Mode photos, there are few differences between the iPhone XS models and the iPhone XR because the two smartphones are both using the same f/1.8 wide-angle lens. Images taken in standard zoom mode, for example, look the same.

iphonexrxslandscape
You will, however, see some differences using the iPhone XS telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom in conditions where lighting is good, because this feature isn't available on the iPhone XR. With no second lens, the iPhone XR ls limited to digital zoom that maxes out at 5x. The iPhone XS can do 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom, but it's only going to be using the optical zoom in ideal lighting conditions.

iphonexrxscomparisonarch
If you take a 2x photo in a low lighting situation on the iPhone XS, there's a good chance it will look identical to the same photo taken on the iPhone XR because the iPhone XS defaults to digital zoom over optical zoom when the wider lens will produce a better picture. If you take a 2x photo with bright lighting on the iPhone XS, it's going to be sharper than the same 2x photo on the iPhone XR because of the difference between true optical zoom and digital zoom.

iphonexrxsflower
4K video using the wide-angle lens looks identical on both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR, and both phones feature the same video capabilities like 1080p 240fps slo-mo, optical image stabilization, and stereo sound recording. You are, however, limited to 3x digital zoom on the iPhone XR vs. 2x optical zoom or 6x digital zoom on the iPhone XS.

iphonexrxscastle
When it comes to the front-facing camera, you won't see differences between the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS models because all three of the smartphones use the same TrueDepth camera system with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera and full support for Portrait Mode images, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, Memoji, and Animoji.

iphonexsiphonexrfrontfacingportrait

Front-facing camera on iPhone XR and iPhone XS

All in all, when it comes to camera performance, unless you're someone who takes a lot of Portrait Mode photos or often uses the optical zoom feature on the iPhone, you may not notice much of a difference if you choose the iPhone XR over the iPhone XS.

To get a clearer look at the camera quality of the iPhone XR compared to the iPhone XS Max, make sure to check out our Imgur album, which features full-resolution versions of the photographs that we shared in this article and in the video above.

What do you think of the iPhone XR camera? Do you prefer the iPhone XS camera? Let us know your thoughts on the comparison images in the comments.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
56 months ago
If anybody is curious and has an XS, I'll sell you a conversion kit that will allow you to emulate the XR camera.



$59.99 + shipping

Attachment Image
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
egodspeed Avatar
56 months ago
Which has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
Either does the Huawei Mate Pro 20. But, it was brought up and that made my comment fair game.

Heck, YOUR comment (about my comment) had nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Get over yourself, Captain Forum Police.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
omihek Avatar
56 months ago
Is it hard to get the exact same angle and depth on comparison shots? Hard to compare when the photos are completely different.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
egodspeed Avatar
56 months ago
Try Huawei Mate Pro 20 . Light years ahead of this garbage.
...and light years behind on privacy.

But sure, nice camera.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tapiture Avatar
56 months ago
Man these Spot The Difference games are getting harder and harder
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rafark Avatar
56 months ago
Remove the labels from the pics and make the users choose which is which. Let the fun begin! :D
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off)

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...