System Performance

System performance of the iPhone XR isn’t something that we expect to differ from the higher-end XS models. Here Apple employs the same SoC at the same clocks, and fundamentally there isn’t any technical reason for the phone to perform differently in every-day tasks. It’s to be noted that our iPhone XS review models were of the biggest storage capacities – both at 512GB, while the iPhone XR model tested today is a 64GB variant. I’m still working on getting our mobile NAND testing suite modernized, but I do expect a difference in speeds here as the bigger storage variants allow for better NAND die parallelism on the part of the storage controller.

Our iOS system benchmarking suite is limited to in-browser tests, nevertheless let’s take a look:

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebViewWebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

As expected, the iPhone XR performs within the margins of error for the iPhone XS. Which means it’s at the very top for mobile performance, currently outperforming every other device, and we’re not expecting this to change anytime soon for 2019 (at least until Apple's A13).

In our review of the iPhone XS, we dedicated a lot of analysis to the A12 and we were just impressed with the performance of the chip as well as Apple’s new CPU microarchitecture.

Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to test the newer generation SoCs from HiSilicon as well as Qualcomm, both employing Arm’s new Cortex A76 CPU cores. While both SoCs have shown fantastic gains, especially in regards to energy efficiency at peak performance, absolute CPU performance and ISO perf/W of the Android vendors are still very much lagging behind Apple’s best. As a result, these latest-generation Android SoCs are having trouble competing with even last year’s A11, never mind the A12. The new Exynos 9820 is the only other important chip for 2019 on which we don’t have data on – and I’m not expecting any miracle on Samsung’s side, which means the A12 and subsequently the iPhone XR will remain very much a top performer for the rest of the year.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance
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  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    Interesting point. I don't know enough about the details of Apple's OLED displays on the XS and the Max, but, if you're right, it also means that Apple's claimed pixel density is slightly dishonest, or at least in need of a footnote. Now, regardless of density, the XS and Max have a very good looking and crisp display, as they should at those prices. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Thursday, February 7, 2019 - link

    That's a good assessment. I find I like the pentile arrangement more, but only if it's got the same base density as an rgb stripe. The crops of the XS and XR show how similar they are except for the subpixel layout. Reply
  • Ananke - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    When I compare my iPhone8 display to my Galaxy 8 or 9 displays - the difference is huge. iPhone XR has the same 720p display. It is not bad, but definitely less sharp and less colorful then Samsungs, and definitely not worth $750. The XR would've been a perfect buy around $400, or free-$100 per line after contract, but indeed I agree with the previous comment - Apple created it just to have something that doesn't jeopardize its XS sales. Apple simply wants average sale price to be above the $1000 mark, and that's it. Simple. We all saw how it worked for them on Wall Street though :) :) Reply
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    Absolutely, yes. Apple could have used a higher resolution display and made the battery a bit smaller to arrive at the same or even less thickness as the XS (-0.6 mm), but then fewer people would buy the more expensive iPhones with a better margin for Apple. They're fully in the zero-sum mindset now, which is a natural consequence of trying to maximize profits instead of market share. Reply
  • jakoh - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    Maximizing profits can sometime start to bite you.
    Apple phones are so expensive.
    I understand that Samsung phones are expensive too. But often you can get a note 9 for $750-799. When can you say that about iPhone Xs or Xs max?
    Reply
  • mrochester - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    Probably in a couple of years time. Reply
  • cha0z_ - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    I got my note 9 on contract from my carrier for half the price that I would had given for iphone xs max from the carrier too. I literally could had taken 2 note 9 phones instead of one iphone. No carrier sub for iphones and this creates insane price differences, then I would have to buy a new charger as the one in the box is insanely slow and headphone adapter. Even if we agree that the xs max is a better phone (tho this can be debated as some things that the note 9 can do, the iphone can't) - it's not that much better to spend twice the money on it, but each on it's own for that one. Reply
  • lightsout565 - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    "I think the main issue I have with the iPhone XR’s display is that it’s actually somewhat of a downgrade from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in terms of resolution – while I understand that Apple wanted to use a more affordable panel, I do think it would have prudent to at least match the 401ppi pixel density of an iPhone 8 Plus."

    It's only a downgrade when compared to the 8 Plus. The XR and the 8 have the same PPI so this wording is a little misleading.

    Also, when comparing the 100% crop of the XS and XR, the main noticeable difference as you say was the clock icon numbers. This text is at a point size that no-one would realistically be reading in practice. I'd be more interested in 100% crops of the the icon label text, the text in a message/email, etc. I'm curious how the sharpness holds up on larger system fonts at a point size you'd realistically be reading.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    I have a 7 at the same 326PPI and I easily see some graininess around text at any size fwiw. Same with the curves on icons and notification dots. Reply
  • jell0king - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    After owning an XR and returning it to get a year old X I have to agree with your assessment of the design of the phone: It's just to thick.

    The thickness of the phone is immediately noticeable and i hadn't even put a case on it yet. The X/XS/XS Max are infinitely more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. Why I haven't seen this mentioned in other reviews is mind boggling but for me the phone was very uncomfortable to hold.

    I could live with the low res screen and thick bezels, loved the battery life and I enjoy the 'fun' colors...but that thickness was just a deal-breaker.
    Reply

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