Apple was just hundred rupees shy of breaching the Rs 1 lakh mark with the launch of its iPhone XS last year. The bigger and more expensive XS Max was priced comfortably over. Stellar phones both they were, however, no match in popularity for the less expensive XR, which quickly became Apple's best-selling phone. It was a simple lesson. Everyone would like an Apple, if you can put forth a reasonable offer. This year, the iPhone XR, starting at Rs 49,900, is that offer (cheaper during festive offers), which has come in the wake of the launch of the iPhone 11.
They look the same
When I first held the new iPhone 11, I thought it was lighter, but cross-referencing revealed that both phones have exactly the same weight and dimensions. They even have the same 6.1-inch LCD display of 1792x828-pixel resolution. At first sight, the iPhone 11 and XR are indistinguishable. Just that the 11 gets a higher IP68 rating, compared to XR’s IP67, which technically makes the former more resistant to water. But till you can swim with one, it’s all potatoes.
They see differently
The newbie captures a bigger picture with the addition of an ultra-wide lens of f/2.4 aperture at the back. The two primary lenses are stacked one below the other, and along with a flash on their right, are housed in a rectangular enclosure, which gives the 11 its somewhat distinctive look. In terms of more tangible differences, the 11’s camera also gets a Night Mode and will recognise dogs, cats and some other pets here on, apart from people’s faces, when they stare at it.
The XR’s seven-megapixel front camera also gets a bump in the 11. It has become a 12-megapixel shooter that can capture videos in 4K. The XR’s camera maxes out at 1080 pixels. Overall, the 11’s cameras, both front and back, have a better dynamic range, saturation, colour and clarity.
They do the same and last the same
Apple doesn’t measure (read reveal) its battery size/capacity. Therefore, despite Apple’s Cupertino executives claiming on stage that the 11 lasts about an hour longer than the XR, I’d say the difference is negligible, if not tilting in favour of the XR.
My usual day with an average screen time of over six hours – including a minimum of two hours of video streaming – passed comfortably. The bundled charger, same for both, easily takes more than an hour to charge 50 per cent battery, but the 18W fast charger (sold separately) does the job in 30 minutes.
The new iOS13 upgrade applies to both, which means the coveted Dark Mode can be experienced in both, and the Face ID gets faster for both. However, I experienced a marginal difference in the apps, camera and phone unlock times in favour of the 11, courtesy its faster A13 Bionic chip.
In conclusion, the better phone to buy is...
If you’d like to move on from Android, even if temporarily, I’d recommend you buy the cheaper XR – it’s a large-screen Apple device refreshed with the iOS13 upgrade. iPhone photographers (they are a thing) have a good incentive to buy the iPhone 11, if the 11 Pro seems too expensive. If money is not a concern for casual Apple users upgrading from the smaller iPhone 6 or 8, or larger 6 Plus or 8 Plus, the new iPhone 11 is a more future-ready choice with its A13 chip, Wi-Fi 6, a better camera and tougher glass on both sides. For everyone else, the XR, at its current price, is the value buy. There’s a difference between the two – get the 11 only if you can spot it.