Why I wish I’d bought the iPhone XR instead of the iPhone XS

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iPhone X-R-llent.
iPhone X-R-llent.
Photo: Apple

The iPhone XS might be Apple’s best phone yet, but the iPhone XR will probably be Cupertino’s best-seller ever. It could even beat out the record-breaking iPhone 6, which proved so successful it skewed Apple’s sales numbers for years after its launch.

Why? Because the XR is cooler, cheaper and bigger than the top-of-the line iPhone XS, and nobody who buys it will care about the other differences. I almost wish I’d waited and bought one of these instead of the iPhone XS.

Better, not worse, than the iPhone XS

The iPhone XR represents a new direction for Apple. This year, the company is releasing two new flagship iPhones. The iPhone XS is the top-end, most expensive model, with the most cutting-edge tech inside. But the iPhone XR is also a top-end iPhone, not a cheap afterthought like the iPhone 5C, a plastic phone with last year’s guts inside it.

While there are several differences between the XS and the XR, the only ones that most people will care about are the color and the size. The XS has an extra telephoto camera, and a beautiful OLED screen, but nobody cares about those except photography enthusiasts and tech nerds.

On the other hand, the iPhone XR has a bigger screen, better battery life, and it comes in those amazing colors. It also gets what is arguably the iPhone XS’ best feature — Portrait Mode with Depth Control1. Not only that, but early reviews say that, because the XR’s Portrait Mode uses the wide-angle camera, it works much better in low light.

The iPod mini effect

The iPod mini came in lots of colors. Not this one, though.
The iPod mini came in lots of colors. Not this one, though.
Photo: bfishadow/Flickr CC

Most people upgrading their iPhone this year will be coming from a 2-year-old iPhone 7 or an even older device. For them, the iPhone XR is an incredible improvement. The display is bigger than the display of the old Plus-size models, and it has all the important future tech like Face ID and Memoji. But the most important thing might be color.

On paper, there’s not much difference between the XR and XS for the regular person. But in real life, the difference is huge. The XR comes in a range of colors reminiscent of the iPod mini, Apple’s best-selling iPod at the time.

The iPod mini had just 4GB storage, and was barely cheaper than the regular iPod. But its colorful aluminum cases made it appealing from the moment it launched. It outsold the standard iPod massively.

iPhone XR colors are a selling point

The iPad mini is different from the iPhone XR in every other way (it was made when smaller was better, not bigger), but I think the color comparison is solid. We’ve had (Product)Red, and rose gold, but this is the first time a high-end iPhone has come in a range of colors. It’ll be huge, and you can guarantee that every Android manufacturer will be doing the same next year2.

The iPhone is personal

We’ve reached the point in the iPhone’s history where it is an essential part of our lives. We’re intimate with them. They go with us everywhere. We use them to share our lives with others.

It makes sense that iPhones should come in a range of colors, just like your clothes (and practically everything else you buy). Add to this the fact that the iPhone XR is, to most people, as good as or better than the much more expensive iPhone XS, and you’ve got an unprecedented hit on your hands.

  1. This only works on faces, so it’s not nearly as flexible, but we take more photos of people than anything else. ↩︎
  2. Sony, Samsung, and Huawei have all made colored phones before, but you know how it goes. When Apple does something, it becomes a thing, and then everybody else does it. ↩︎