iPhone XR vs iPhone Xs: Is the Xs camera worth the extra money?

“If you’re deciding between the new iPhone XS and its cheaper, more colorful sibling, your choice ultimately comes down to the camera. The iPhone XS ($999) and iPhone XR ($749) share a lot of the same specs, but the XS has two lenses on the back, while the iPhone XR only has one,” Vanessa Hand Orellana writes for CNET. “Is the second lens — which enables the 2x optical zoom that’s unavailable on the XR — worth it? That’s the $250 question.”

“The iPhone XS uses that second, telephoto lens as an optical 2x zoom and then switches to digital zoom beyond that. The iPhone XR uses digital zoom exclusively,” Orellana writes. “This means photos and videos at the same 2x magnification will look sharper on the iPhone XS than on the iPhone XR. That’s because the iPhone XR relies on software alone to crop into the shot, rather than a lens that can capture higher quality natively.”

“It’s also a lot easier to use the zoom on XS. The iPhone XS has a 2x shortcut on the camera interface that allows you to switch to the closer telephoto lens with the press of a button (basically, toggling between the two lenses). The button also turns into a slider tool to zoom in up to 10x one-handed, which is especially helpful for when you’re shooting video,” Orellana writes. “The iPhone XR requires you to manually pinch-to-zoom, which means you’ll need both hands to zoom in, and the effect isn’t as smooth as the slider.”

“Portrait mode on the XR is also limited to humans only while the iPhone XS can tackle humans, animals, plants, food and pretty much any inanimate object (though it still struggles with certain objects),” Orellana writes. “The iPhone XS is your go-to camera if, like me, you’re taking a lot of portraits of kids and pets who don’t like to hold a pose. Or if you use the zoom in stills and videos.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The iPhone Xs also comes with 4GB RAM vs. 3GB RAM for the cheaper XR.


  1. The iPhone XS/XS Max is a super-premium product and feels that way in the hand. The stainless steel construction, the OLED display with 3D Touch, the cameras, the extra RAM – they all add up to an experience that is worth the extra money if you can afford it.

    If you can’t afford it, the compromises of the iPhone XR are totally acceptable.

    This is the definition of good design: thoughtful curation of features to make the best possible experience for each product.

  2. What I saw at the Apple store over the past weekend in the form of an XR was not impressive. I thought the screen is awful compared to the iPhone 7. I asked an Apple employee if there was something wrong with it and was told no the other display models look the same.

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