iPhone 11 vs iPhone XR: which iPhone is made for you?

iPhone XR against a dark blue background and iPhone 11 against a yellow background
The iPhone XR (left) with the iPhone 11 (Image credit: Apple)

Apple is known for many things, but affordability isn't usually one of them. While the recent update to the iPhone SE no doubt makes that the lowest-priced iPhone you can find at present, our iPhone XR review and iPhone 11 review show that these are a great middle ground. 

Both offer larger displays than the SE, as well as more color options, and many network providers offer them for a low price. With that in mind, when looking at the iPhone 11 vs iPhone XR, what's the difference between the two, and which should you go for when looking for the best iPhone for you? 

For the most part, we'd recommend the iPhone 11. Not only is it a newer phone, but it offers a longer-lasting battery, a better camera, and better internals. Here's our full comparison.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: price

An iPhone 11 in someone's hand, with the screen on

The iPhone 11 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Originally launched in 2018, the iPhone XR was positioned as a lower-cost alternative to the iPhone XS that still offered the same internal processor and a sizeable 6.1-inch display. 

The iPhone 11, on the other hand, is positioned as the "main" device of Apple's 2019 lineup, with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max offering more power at a higher price point. 

The iPhone XR retails for $599 (£629/AU$1049) for the base 64GB storage version, while the iPhone 11 is available for $699 (£729/AU$1199) for the same storage. 

Both devices offer a 128 GB storage version, but if you're looking for more than that, you'll want the iPhone 11 -- which offers a 256GB version. 

Of course, if you don't mind picking up a refurbished phone, the iPhone XR can be found for as low as $539 (£539) for the 128GB version from Apple's own refurbished store.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: design

At first glance, there's not a great deal to separate both devices. The front of both are dominated by the display, and each features the controversial "notch" at the top.

While the display isn't quite edge-to-edge, the bezels aren't huge, and each the dimensions of both are, in fact identical: they're both 5.94-inches tall, 2.98-inches wide, and 0.33-inches deep with a weight of 6.84 ounces. 

It's worth noting though, that while the iPhone XR is IP67 rated (able to survive under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes), the iPhone 11 is IP68 rated, bumping its water resistance up to 2 meters. 

Whichever you go for, there are plenty of color options to choose from. The iPhone XR comes in blue, white, black, yellow, coral (which is a sort of pastel orange) and red (as part of the (Product)RED partnership), while the iPhone 11 comes in purple (more of a lilac), yellow, green, black, white and, again, (Product)RED.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: display

The displays on the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are essentially identical. Both panels are 6.1-inches, with a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels. 

These "Liquid Retina HD" displays taper around the edges of each device to ensure a smooth curve, but they lack the brightness of the more expensive OLED screens found on the XS, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. 

While they both offer True Tone, neither offers HDR - meaning your color palette is a little more limited when watching HDR content.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: camera and battery

An iPhone XR from the front, with foliage in the background

iPhone XR (Image credit: TechRadar)

Where both devices really start to differentiate themselves is in both camera and battery. 

The iPhone XR offers a perfectly decent 12MP wide camera, but the iPhone 11 adds a second lens for Ultra Wide shots. It also adds "Night Mode" for taking pictures in low-light scenarios, as well as a brighter true-tone flash. 

The iPhone 11 has a 12MP camera on the front, too, while the iPhone XR only offers 7MP. Both offer portrait mode, but the iPhone 11 adds Stage, Stage Mono, and High-Key Mono options to the Natural, Studio and Contour images you can take on the XR. 

If you want to take videos with your front camera, only the iPhone 11's offers 4K video at 24, 30, or 60 fps, while it also supports slo-mo. Thankfully, the rear cameras are essentially the same, save for the iPhone 11's ability to take extended dynamic range videos at 60 fps rather than 30. 

When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 11 is, again, the winner - albeit only just, according to Apple's benchmarks. It only offers an extra hour of video playback on top of the iPhone XR's already impressive battery life, but given the difference between making it home to charge your phone and potentially being stranded without it, we'd opt for that extra hour as a safety net, if nothing else.

We've also found it to actually last even longer in real-world testing.

Both devices support wireless charging, and both support fast-charging with an 18W adapter. That gets you to 50% in thirty minutes, but it's also sold separately, so you may never use it.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: specs and features

An iPhone 11 from the back, focused on the camera

iPhone 11 (Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone XR uses the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XS, while the iPhone 11's A13 Bionic is currently the fastest mobile chip the company makes.

Benchmarks show a 20 percent increase in performance, but it's also worth remembering that the A13 is more power efficient, helping eke out all of the power it can from a single charge. 

Aside from the processor, many of the specs are similar on both devices, with Face ID being the only way of unlocking the phone, NFC technology for using Apple Pay, and the usual suspects  of Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, and Siri. 

Interestingly, iPhone XR doesn't offer Wi-Fi 6 like the iPhone 11 does, meaning your connections could be slightly slower with the XR, although you're unlikely to notice it. 

The iPhone 11 also offers Dolby Atmos support for watching content that supports it, while the iPhone XR is restricted to stereo sound.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: takeaway

The iPhone XR is a great phone, but considering the fairly small difference in price (at least when buying through a carrier), it's difficult to recommend over the iPhone 11. 

Its younger brother offers a better camera, increased performance that doesn't sacrifice battery life, and the potential for increased storage. 

Considering the iPhone XR's precarious position between the more current iPhone 11 and the newly-revamped iPhone SE, there's a good chance it won't be available anywhere for too much longer.

Lloyd Coombes
Freelancer & Podcaster

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance tech and fitness writer for TechRadar. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as Computer and Gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, and Live Science. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games at Dexerto.