For the first time in a while, Apple's giving us a ton of color options for its iPhones, at least for its iPhone XR lineup. But with a range of colors, including red, yellow, coral and blue, which hue is right for you?
Now that the iPhone XR is in stores, it's time to make a call.
I spoke with Katy Kelleher, a color consultant and writer who's collaborated with brands and written for The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review and Artsy. Katy had a ton of thoughts about the more colorful XR options available. (We skipped over the black and white XR phones, which are a snore).
Here’s a breakdown of the iPhone XR’s color options.
Red: Classic, but a little too strong
For once, Apple released a (PRODUCT)RED iPhone at same time it unveiled one of its new phones, rather than waiting months and months. Kelleher, though, was not impressed. She told me that "red is the only one I find a little boring, as a classic cherry red convertible color, that's a little macho and aggressive."
"If I was out on a date with a guy, and he pulled out the red," she continued, "I might wonder if we're not a good match." This red, she noted is very good at "projecting confidence, as it's "the TED Talk power stance of phones."
Still, though, Kelleher admits "Red is classic, and stays around for a reason. A fun, bright color that's still a safe option." After I brought up how the black and white designs are too bland to merit discussion, she noted that this red is "a safe way to show a bit of personality — even in professional settings — while not taking a risk."
Coral: Bold, gender-neutral and tropical
Kelleher had a more positive reaction came when I asked what she thought of the coral design. "I love the coral!," she said. "The coral feels like a fresher, modern version of the pink we've all seen," as "it's gender-neutral, tropical and flirty, and not too feminine."
"It's not a bright pink, anyone could have it," she repeated. So don't worry, dudes, it's not a problem to like coral.
Still, she found coral a surprise entry to the iPhone XR lineup. "I haven't seen a lot of Apple products in orange, or any consumer tech products at all." When I brought up the first generation Snapchat Spectacles, which came in coral, Kelleher thought even better of Apple's decision: "Snapchat's had their finger on the pulse of what kids want, and it's good to see Apple follow suit."
Yellow: Modern, young and fashionable
The most shocking colorway, though, is Apple's not-so-mellow Yellow. "This Yellow is great,” Kelleher said.”It's also the riskiest choice, not many people list is as their favorite." Blue, she added, is the most common.
But there’s a risk to yellow, too. "Yellow has a lot of negative cultural connotations, such as insanity and illness," Kelleher said.
Notably, the yellow iPhone XR is the first version that's started to sell out.
It turns out that Apple's decision is another sign of the company being tuned in to modern trends. "Lately, in fashion," Kelleher explained, "this Gen Z Yellow has taken over, and it's a fashion-forward choice for Apple." So, if you're looking for a phone that will not fade out of style soon, that's the one to get.
"We're seeing in a revival of this color in fashion," Kelleher noted, before saying "There's a hopeful, sunny youthfulness to it, I could see it being very popular in a high school, with this rising generation that is leaning towards positivity."
If this color reminds you of sweets, that's likely the point. Keller told me "It's that bright, banana candy yellow, and it's huge right now."
Blue: The traditional pick
"This is the one I'd choose," Kelleher said about the blue iPhone XR. "This one feels like a traditional, classic Apple choice, and reminds me of the Bondi Blue that Steve Jobs reportedly chose for the original iMac."
It's a "cerulean blue," Katy specified, that's "bright enough to be fun, and it’s got just enough green so that it doesn't lean [too far] towards turquoise or Tiffany Blue." That specific hue, gives the phone a "warm weather sensibility to it, that's fun and neutral, and not as aggressive as the red. Much more diplomatic."
And what of the metallic iPhone Xs models?
We also talked about Apple's pricier phones, the iPhone XS and XS Max. These phones come in more traditional colors with gold joining the silver and space gray options Apple introduced with last year’s iPhone X.
"This gold is an interesting choice over rose gold, as rose Gold had dominated in the past, and Apple helped made it trendy," Kelleher said. Conjuring memories of Apple killing beloved features, she added that "it's a really smart and classic Apple decision to return to a yellowy-gold. I for one am happy to see Millennial Pink die out."
"Apple is often on the forefront of colors, hiring the best people who are able to forecast colors years ahead of time," Kelleher said. This is another sign that Apple's aware of broader trends, as "in fashion, rose gold has become the oversaturated, basic choice."
So why would Apple turn to staid, conventional colors for its higher priced phones, while opting for more alluring colors on the less expensive XR? It’s not a surprising move, Kelleher said: "Color is an easy and immediate way to convey status."
Kelleher cited the work of color expert Lesley Harrington who believes that more complex colors denote more status.”So it makes sense that simpler colors aren't as expensive, while the metallic models cost more," she added.
It also makes sense to make "the brighter colors are more affordable because they'll appeal to a younger crowd," Kelleher said, since that demographic might have less money to spend.
Oh, one more thing
Despite the newfound dash of color, Kelleher thinks there’s something missing from Apple’s new iPhone XR rainbow. "Where's the green iPhone?" she asked. "I'm missing a solid gender-neutral Apple Green."
Credit: Tom's Guide
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.