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iPhone 11 vs. iPhone XR: Which to Buy?

Apple this week unveiled the iPhone 11, the successor to the iPhone XR. At first glance, the two devices have quite a few similarities, but the iPhone 11 takes a step forward in regards to cameras, battery life, and more.


Design


The iPhone 11 has a very similar glass-and-aluminum design as the iPhone XR, with one major visual difference being its new dual-lens rear camera system housed in a large, square camera bump. On the back of the iPhone 11, the Apple logo has been centered, and the "iPhone" brand name is no longer shown.

Otherwise, much is the same, including the display, bezels, notch, antenna bands, volume and side buttons, mute switch, speaker grilles, and microphones. The iPhone 11 also sticks with the Lightning connector.

The iPhone 11 comes in six colors, including all-new green and purple and slightly tweaked white, black, yellow, and (PRODUCT)RED options.


Both devices weigh in at just under half a pound and have identical dimensions.

Display


The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1-inch LCD as the iPhone XR, including a resolution of 1792×828 pixels for 326 pixels per inch, 625 nits max brightness, and True Tone and P3 wide color gamut support. The LCD panel keeps costs down compared to the OLED display in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Like the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 relies on software-based Haptic Touch for contextual menus and shortcuts. Unlike older iPhones, there is no pressure-sensitive 3D Touch layer built into the iPhone 11's display.

Performance


The iPhone 11 is powered by Apple's latest A13 Bionic chip, which it says is the fastest CPU in any smartphone ever.


Based on 7-nanometer architecture, the A13 Bionic features four high-efficiency cores that are up to 20 percent faster and consume 40 percent less power than the A12 Bionic, and two high-performance cores that are up to 20 percent faster and 30 percent more efficient than the previous chip.

Battery Life


Apple says the iPhone 11 has up to one hour longer battery life than the iPhone XR overall. Based on Apple's internal testing, the iPhone 11 is rated for up to 17 hours of offline video playback, up to 10 hours of streaming video over Wi-Fi, and up to 65 hours of audio playback per charge.

Like the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 supports Qi-based wireless charging, as well as fast charging for up to a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes with an 18W or higher USB-C charger. Unfortunately, Apple still includes the same-old 5W charger and Lightning to USB-A cable with the iPhone 11.

Cameras


The rear camera system is easily the iPhone 11's biggest upgrade over the iPhone XR. The wide-angle ƒ/1.8 lens is now accompanied by an ultra-wide-angle ƒ/2.4 lens for a 120° field of view. The ultra-wide-angle lens allows users to "zoom out" to "0.5x" and capture four times more scene, according to Apple.

The wide-angle lens also has an updated sensor that enables Night Mode for markedly improved low-light photos that are brighter and have less noise. This feature is similar to Night Sight on Google's latest Pixel smartphones.


The iPhone 11's third-generation Neural Engine enables next-generation Smart HDR for more natural-looking photos. And coming later this fall, it will enable a new Deep Fusion system that uses advanced machine learning for pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, including texture, details, and noise.

Portrait Mode on the iPhone 11 works with not only human faces, but also objects and pets. While this was already possible on the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, Portrait Mode on the iPhone XR is only able to detect humans, although some third-party camera apps like Halide work with objects and pets too.

There are also six Portrait Lighting effects available on the iPhone 11, including Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, and High‑Key Mono. This is up from three on the iPhone XR: Natural, Studio, and Contour.

And exclusive to the entire iPhone 11 lineup, there is now front-facing slo-mo video recording at 120 FPS.

Connectivity


With both 802.11ax Wi-Fi and Gigabit-class LTE, the iPhone 11 theoretically has faster download speeds, but real-world performance is typically limited by multiple factors such as location and network congestion.

The iPhone 11 also features a new Apple-designed U1 chip that enables ultra-wideband support for improved spatial awareness. The chip enables the iPhone 11 to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices, such as other iPhone 11 models and reportedly Apple's rumored Tile-like item tracking tags.

Apple says the U1 chip will "lead to amazing new capabilities." When iOS 13.1 is released September 30, for example, users will be able to point their iPhone 11 at another iPhone user to AirDrop that person a file.

Storage and Pricing


The iPhone 11 is available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage capacities for $699, $749, and $849 respectively in the United States. That's $50 cheaper than the iPhone XR, which at launch was also available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage capacities for $749, $799, and $899 respectively.

Apple continues to sell the iPhone XR, which now starts at $599, but the 256GB model has been discontinued.

Just the Tech Specs


Below you'll find tech specs for iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, with each difference bolded.

iPhone 11

  • 6.1-inch LCD display
  • 1792×828 resolution and 326 PPI
  • True Tone display
  • Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras (wide and ultra-wide lenses)
  • Single 12-megapixel front camera
  • Portrait Mode with Depth Control: humans, pets, and objects
  • Six Portrait Lighting effects
  • Next-gen Smart HDR
  • A13 Bionic chip with third-gen Neural Engine
  • Face ID
  • Haptic Touch
  • Lightning connector
  • Fast charging capable: up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • Qi-based wireless charging
  • IP68-rated water resistance to a depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes
  • 64/128/256GB
  • Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Gigabit-class LTE
  • VoLTE
  • 802.11ax Wi‑Fi with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Plus…

  • Night Mode photos
  • Front-facing slo-mo video recording at 120 FPS
  • QuickTake video recording shortcut
  • Dolby Atmos sound
  • U1 chip for spatial awareness

iPhone XR

  • 6.1-inch LCD display
  • 1792×828 resolution and 326 PPI
  • True Tone display
  • Single 12-megapixel rear camera (wide lens)
  • Single 7-megapixel front camera
  • Portrait Mode with Depth Control: humans only
  • Three Portrait Lighting effects
  • Smart HDR
  • A12 Bionic chip with second-gen Neural Engine
  • Face ID
  • Haptic Touch
  • Lightning connector
  • Fast charging capable: up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • Qi-based wireless charging
  • IP67-rated water resistance to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • 64/128GB (256GB discontinued)
  • Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • LTE Advanced
  • VoLTE
  • 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Conclusion


While the iPhone 11 is a rather iterative update to the iPhone XR, users who take lots of photos may find the camera advancements worth spending an extra $100 on. Overall, however, the iPhone XR probably remains the best iPhone for most people, especially at its reduced price of $599.

Related Roundups: iPhone XR, iPhone 11
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 11 (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

2 weeks ago

I have an XR. The only thing I want on the 11 is night mode. Not enough to upgrade. Feels good for once to skip, actually.


*edit* just like with Google Night Sight, this isn’t for moving subjects, you have to hold still a few seconds using this app!

Here’s a good Night Mode solution for $2.99, I bought it for my iPhone X and it works really well:

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/neuralcam-night-mode-camera/id1474856599

Quick test I did last night, standard Camera app vs NeuralCam:


Rating: 37 Votes
2 weeks ago

Exclusive to 11. Requires the better cameras.

Does it though, or is that what Apple want you to believe? They were pushing how important AI was for many (if not all) of these "pro" features and if the competitors' night modes are anything to go by they're done through computation rather than "the latest lens that our old camera didn't have".
Rating: 15 Votes
2 weeks ago
Have to add for advantages for the Xr is the blue color. Was planning on getting a blue 11. :(

Would not be surprised if the spatial awareness stuff and the wide angle 2nd camera gets used for AR stuff in the future (was really surprised they didn't do something with it during the keynote - cause otherwise a zoom camera would be a no brainer choice for a 2nd camera).

I'm tempted to finally upgrade my 8 Plus and I'm tempted by the iPhone 11 but will I notice the difference with the lower resolution screen?


It's still retina resolution (the same resolution (dots per inch) as the base 8). I had a 8 Plus and didn't notice the difference with the Xr.
Rating: 14 Votes
2 weeks ago

Question about Night mode.... is this a 11 and 11 pro exclusive or is it going to be a software update for the Xr?


Exclusive to 11. Requires the better cameras.
Rating: 9 Votes
2 weeks ago
I need a Product(RED) iPhone Pro. It would be beautiful.
Rating: 7 Votes
2 weeks ago
I never understood the power efficiency gains in relation to battery

So the 11 with a13 has 40 percent efficiency gains but only yields one hour more battery (and that’s the marketing claim, too) with same screen and resolution and all the rest except a dual camera? How does that make any mathematical sense?

Still xr gets excellent battery life and I’d expect no less of the 11
Rating: 7 Votes
2 weeks ago
I'm going to say the I phone 11 better processor and better camera.
Rating: 6 Votes
2 weeks ago
I'm tempted to finally upgrade my 8 Plus and I'm tempted by the iPhone 11 but will I notice the difference with the lower resolution screen?
Rating: 5 Votes
2 weeks ago

Does it though, or is that what Apple want you to believe? They were pushing how important AI was for many (if not all) of these "pro" features and if the competitors' night modes are anything to go by they're done through computation rather than "the latest lens that our old camera didn't have".


It is most probably they want you to believe that and push it for commercial differentiation and selling points.

In reality the sensors are the same, it is most probably a software improvement of the low light digital photo, the hardware is mostly the same, they just want you to buy the new phone.
Rating: 5 Votes
2 weeks ago
Unmentioned an extra GB of ram - 4 vs 3 and support for unlicensed band 48 (cbrs) which I understand is in use in some areas by Verizon at the least.
Rating: 5 Votes

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