iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus

iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus

We know that the iPhone 8 and iPhone XR were both the budget options to their sibling flagship release, the iPhone X and iPhone XS respectively. 

However, in 2020 both phones are still great performers and now is when their used value is becoming easily accessible for most budgets whether you need a device today, or carefully considering the best option to maximize value. 

So given that both have respectable value, which one should you choose? Both phones fall into the large display archetype and therefore attract similar users. 

The iPhone 8 Plus holding onto the old school design also means prices might be slightly lower for this model as well, so does the XR feature enough differences to win out on cost basis? 

In this article, we will go over the differences between the iPhone XR and iPhone 8 Plus in order to conclude which phone is right for you and end with a personal recommendation that should suit most people.

Specs

While some differences may be obvious at first, some are slightly more subtle. This chart maps out relevant specifications for both the XR and 8 Plus to aid in your decision making process. 

 

iPhone XR

iPhone 8 Plus

Release date

Oct-18

Sep-17

Screen size

6.1”

5.5”

Height & width

5.9” x 3”

6.2” x 3”

depth

.33”

.29”

weight

6.84 oz

7.12 oz

CPU

A12 Bionic Chip with 2nd generation Neural Engine

A11 Bionic Chip with 1st Generation Neural Engine

Login Security

Face ID

Touch ID 

Display type

LCD with Liquid Retina HD display

LCD Retina HD Display

Pixel density

1792 x 828 pixel resolution at 326ppi

1920 x 1080 pixel resolution at 401ppi

Contrast & color

1400:1 contrast ratio

1300:1 contrast ratio

Front-facing camera

5x zoom & 7MP

5x zoom & 7MP

Front-facing video

1080p HD, 30fps or 60fps

1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps

Back-facing camera

Single 12MP Wide

Dual 12MP Wide and Telephoto cameras

Back-facing video

1080p HD video, 30 or 60 fps, extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps; 3x digital zoom

1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps, 2x optical zoom in; digital zoom up to 6x

Portrait lighting (front & back)

Natural, studio, contour

N/A

Photo HDR (front & back)

Smart HDR

Auto HDR

Audio playback

Wider stereo

Stereo

Video playback

Supports Dolby Vision & HDR10 content

Supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 content

Battery power

2942mAh

2691mAh

Video playback (battery)

Up to 16 hrs

Up to 14 hrs

Audio playback

(battery)

Up to 65 hrs

Up to 60 hours

Internal storage

64GB, 128GB, or 256GB

64GB, 128, or 256GB

Touch

Haptic Touch

3D Touch

SIM

Dual SIM (nano SIM & eSIM)

Single Nano Sim

Operating system at release

iOS 12

iOS 11

Body

Glass & aluminum

Glass & aluminum

finish

Red, yellow, white, coral, black, blue

Gold, Silver, Space Gray, Product Red

Price, at time of release

$749+

$799+

Current price, new

$599*

$449*

Current price, pre-owned

$479-499*, $387**

$354-389*, $307**

*Price on Best Buy
**Price on UpTrade

This can be a lot of information to compare at once, so I’ve highlighted the meaningful differences below: 

 

iPhone XR

iPhone 8 Plus

Screen size

6.1”

5.5”

Login Security

Face ID

Touch ID 

Height & width

5.9” x 3”

6.2” x 3”

Back-facing camera

Single 12MP Wide

Dual 12MP Wide and Telephoto cameras

Back-facing video

1080p HD video, 30 or 60 fps, extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps; 3x digital zoom

1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps, 2x optical zoom in; digital zoom up to 6x

CPU

A12 Bionic Chip with 2nd generation Neural Engine

A11 Bionic Chip with 1st Generation Neural Engine

Operating system at release

iOS 12

iOS 11

Current price, pre-owned

$387**

$307**

Screen

The iPhone 8 Plus has a screen that is slightly smaller across, but has a sharper display in both resolution and pixel density. This means images can appear more detailed and pixels less visible when held at extremely close angles. 

Part of how Apple made the XR significantly cheaper than the XS at launch was by making some compromises with the screen, including a slightly lower pixel density and less sharp resolution. 

Don’t be discouraged though, as Apple utilized their world class engineering to ensure that the differences were minimized were someone to even notice them at all. 

When compared side by side, the iPhone 8 Plus can play back sharper videos and display more detailed photos, but during day to day use on a five and a half or six inch display, most users won’t perceive this difference during most activities done on smartphones.

Between the sharper resolution vs bigger display, the best choice comes down to personal taste.

Body Size

New design of the XR is definitely a pro, as modern smartphone design is focused on minimizing the screen to body ratio, so not only is the XR screen bigger, the size of the phone is also smaller, over all getting a better experience while using the device with less hassle than the sizeable iPhone 8 Plus. 

This is undoubtedly a win for the iPhone X for being more user friendly with virtually no downside. 

Camera

This can be a big point with a lot of people. The iPhone 8 Plus still has the telephoto camera for up to 2X optical zoom, and 6X digital zoom. The XR can only go up to 3X digital zoom. 

For those who like photography, this single point can completely change the user experience of the iPhone X into feeling like it lacks a key feature.  

Login Security

The iPhone 8 Plus is one of the few modern iPhones available that still has a home button, and with that also includes Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint reading security feature. 

Since the iPhone XR does not have a home button its secure unlock uses Face ID instead of reading your fingerprint. 

Touch ID has been demonstrated to be both faster and more reliable than Face ID, so the 8 Plus wins out on the convenience factor here. 

Processor

The XR has the A12 chip, one generation ahead of the iPhone 8 Plus’ A11. While the A12 is technically faster, both processors are extremely high performing, loading apps and webpages at cutting edge speeds. 

The biggest edge the A12 has over the A11 is that the A12 was designed to be more power efficient. Strictly speaking for speeds, both processors are an excellent choice, and an ordinary user would have a difficult time trying to discern the difference. 

As an overall package though, combined with the fact that the iPhone XR has less pixels to power, a similar sized battery, and a more power efficient processor, the XR has some seriously impressive battery life that beats out the iPhone 8 Plus’. 

Future Proofing

Since the XR was released one year ahead of the iPhone 8 Plus, the XR is most likely to receive one extra year of iOS updates from Apple, therefore buying the XR in 2020 increases the longevity and usability of your phone for the next few years. 

Conclusion

While the 8 Plus is a cheaper price for a similar experience, the lack of future proofing from buying the older phone and needing another upgrade sooner rather than later may negate money saved from buying the 8 Plus over the XR.

With that in mind, the most realistic reason to go with the 8 Plus over the XR is either for Touch ID or the telephoto lens for close up shots. 

Personal Recommendation

Only lacking some extra zoom on the camera, for $100 more the iPhone XR is a faster, more power efficient phone with a larger screen in a smaller package. I am confident to recommend the iPhone XR for purchase over the 8 Plus, except for those who value the dual camera system for smartphone photography.

Alex Wang

B.S. Global Business - University of Texas at Dallas Marketing, Business Development, and Inventory Management at UpTrade

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