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iPhone 11 vs. iPhone XR: What’s Different, What’s the Same

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update Sept. 20: The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max are now available in stores.

The iPhone XR is the top-selling phones in the U.S., according to Apple's figures. And while it doesn't offer the flawless OLED display or dual rear cameras of the pricier iPhone XS and XS Max, the iPhone XR delivers all the other top features of those flagships at a more accessible price. But with the $699 iPhone 11 now on shelves, it's officially the new best iPhone for the money. 

The iPhone 11 is the least expensive of the iPhones Apple introduced this year, with the $999 iPhone 11 Pro, and $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max also joining the lineup. Of the three new models, the iPhone 11 serves the most similar purpose as the iPhone XR — a respectable balance of price and performance in 6.1-inch phone.

MORE: How Much Is Your iPhone XR Worth?

Though the iPhone 11 has the sharp new A13 Bionic processor and dual-lens camera setup, the iPhone XR will cost you less at checkout at a marked-down $599 since its sticking around Apple's iPhone lineup. These are some of the trade-offs to consider if you're in the market for a new iPhone. 

How else does the iPhone 11 differ from the iPhone XR? Here's your cheat sheet. 

iPhone 11 vs iPhone XR

iPhone 11iPhone XR
Starting Price$699$599
ProcessorA13 BionicA12 Bionic
Screen6.1-inch LCD (1,792 x 828 Pixels)6.1-inch LCD (1,792 x 828 Pixels)
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Face IDYesYes
Rear CameraDual 12MP (ƒ/1.8) & 12MP (ƒ/2.4)Single 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
Front Camera12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)7MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2)
Zoom2x optical; 5x digital5x digital
Gigabit LTE NoNo
Battery Life11:2011:26
Metal frameAnodized AluminumAluminum
ColorsBlack, White, Red, Yellow, Green, PurpleBlack, White, Red, Yellow, Blue and Coral
Weight6.8 ounces6.8 ounces
Size5.9 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches5.9 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches

What's new with the iPhone 11

The iPhone 11 delivers some significant upgrades to the iPhone base model. Though the general design remains mostly unchanged from the iPhone XR, Apple made some key alternations to the camera and under the hood of its new phone. 

Design: The iPhone 11 is made of anodized aluminum and glass design, which Apple says is the strongest glass in a smartphone. There is a bump on the back of the phone that houses the new camera, sculpted using 3D-geometry for a sleek look. 

The iPhone 11 will come in 6 colors, including purple, white, black, yellow, green and Product Red. (Green and purple are the newcomers, replacing coral and blue in the XR's color selection.)

Processor: Every year brings a new processor to the latest iPhone. In the case of the iPhone 11, it's Apple's A13 Bionic processor. This is the biggest update to the iPhone 11, powering several of the other changes to Apple's new phone. 

The iPhone XR's A12 Bionic chip was the fastest CPU in a smartphone ever. And while the Snapdragon 855 has narrowed the gap between the best Android phones and Apple's devices, Qualcomm's top-of-the-line processing platform is still not quite as fast as the A12. So the A13 should thurst Apple that much further ahead of the pack.

MORE: Apple Unveils iPhone 11 with Ultra-Wide Camera, Night Mode for Just $699

Now, the A13 is the fastest CPU and GPU ever in a smartphone, according to Apple's claims, which should make for fast operations and mobile gaming. 

New machine learning accelerators make the A13's CPU capable of over 1 trillion operations per second. Plus its low-power design improves the efficiency of those operations by isolating and activating just the parts of the chip necessary to complete operations.

Camera: The iPhone 11 adopted a loaded dual-camera system. The new setup is housed in a raised square, unlike the standalone 12-MP lens on the XR. The first camera is a 12-megapixel wide camera with an ƒ/1.8 aperture and 12MP ultra-wide 5-element lens with a ƒ/2.4 aperture for a 2x optical zoom. This works for tight spaces where you can't back up, large landscapes, and depth portraits.

On the software side, Apple introduced a new image pipeline. It added a semantic rendering stage to capturing a photo, using next-gen HDR multi-scale tone maps to treat different levels of highlights in a single photo.

The high-key mono lightning is a new feature in the iPhone 11's Portrait Mode. It renders bold images in a brilliant black and white finish with high contrast. 

Apple also welcomed a Night Mode, with an eye toward catching up with Samsung and Google's smartphone cameras. Night Mode meshes together different exposure lengths to capture solid low-light images.

As for video, the iPhone 11 captures clips in 4K at 60 frames per second. That's the same as the iPhone XR, but the newer iPhone can also shoot 4K video with its front camera. What's more, there's a new QuickTake video feature for when you're shooting photos but also want to capture video. Just tap and hold the camera's shutter button to start recording (like on Snapchat.)

Apple revamped the front-facing camera, too, on the iPhone 11. It sports a 12MP TrueDepth camera to the 7MP version on the iPhone XR. Apple says you'll be able to squeeze more friends in your selfies when using landscape mode. And add the word "slofie" to your repertoire: Apple integrated slow-motion to the iPhone XR's front cam.

Audio: Apple upped its audio game with brand-new mobile spatial audio technology for a more theater-like experience when listening to music and watching video content. Plus you get support for Dolby Atmos sound.

Face ID: On the iPhone 11, Face ID is up to 30% faster than on previous iPhone models like the XR and provides improved support for varying distances and angles. A minor change, but it expands the appeal facial recognition biometrics to unlock your device.

Water-Resistance and Durability: The iPhone 11 is rated IP68 for water resistance up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes, and is protected against all sorts of accidental spills. The iPhone XR is rated IP67.

Price: Here's another big change. Pricing for the iPhone 11 starts at $699, which is $50 less than the $749 the iPhone XR debuted at last year. That may seem like a modest drop, but in an age where phone prices climb ever skyward, it's clear Apple wants to inspire more people to buy its new phone.

What's the same with the iPhone 11

From the front, the iPhone 11 could be mistaken for an XR. These are some other elements of the new phone that take cues from last year's model.

Display and Size: The iPhone 11 is 6.1 inches, which is the same size as the XR. The iPhone 11 uses the same Liquid Retina (LCD) display as the XR, too.

Battery Life: The iPhone XR already featured the best battery life on any iPhone, lasting nearly 11.5 hours on our battery test. The iPhone 11 promised to improve things even further, though, with Apple saying you can expect an hour improvement over the iPhone XR.  Except our Tom's Guide battery test exhausted the iPhone 11 after 11 hours and 20 minutes. That's nearly the same as how the iPhone XR performed on our battery test in 2018.

Charging: There are no changes on the iPhone 11's charging front. You'll still charge your phone with your Lightning cable. While the iPhone 11 Pro comes with a fast charger in its box, you'll still need to buy that accessory separately for the iPhone 11, just as you did for the iPhone XR.

Storage Capacity: The iPhone 11 storage capacities are the the same as the iPhone XR's. You can get an iPhone 11 with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB.

Outlook

Most of the iPhone 11's early allure lies in the major camera overhaul and that A13 Bionic chipset. As with every new Apple chip, expect better performance and new capabilities to the cheapest iPhone model. 

If you skipped over the iPhone XR (or any of last year's iPhones) and are looking for a new handset, the iPhone 11 makes an initial convincing argument. But if you're sporting an XR that you've bought in the last year , you'll want to take the well-balanced differences and similarities into consideration before deciding if you're ready to upgrade. 

New phone shoppers could also be tempted by the lower iPhone XR price — it now starts at $599 — or even the $449 iPhone 8, if you don't mind a two-year-old processor.

We're big fans of the iPhone XR, but with its stellar cameras and speedy A13 Bionic chip, the iPhone 11 is the best iPhone for the money.