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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  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    I don't think that's the case. LCD is more efficient than OLED unless you're looking at a largely-black screen. There have been reviews looking specifically at power usage and they show a significant increase for OLED screens.
  • FreckledTrout - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    Its both the resolution and the use of LCD since LCD has lower standby draw.
  • - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    don't think thats true.... OLED only light up pixels that needs to be lite up.. while LCD requires the whole backlight to be lite up... unless you really dim the LCD, OLED typically is more efficient.
  • - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    Proof OLED is more effecient than LCD ... from macworld
  • cha0z_ - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    Wrong, even the current gen LCDs are draining more power than a OLED current gen screen. The only exclusion would be a maxed out brightness, but most people don't use the phone in max brightness most of the time. Then again, I don't know what the power consumption of the XS OLED is (can't recall the Andrei tests, you can check them out in the review).

    The lower screen resolution is the reason for the long battery life, not only because the UI is using a lot less GPU to draw, but this goes to every app too - like youtube, that will run most videos at 720p while my note 9 will run them at 1440p if available. The workload for 720p and 1440p is a lot different and leads to different battery usage.Then we have games... for xs they will be it's native resolution in a lot of cases, but for the xr they will be 720p. And so on and so on... the resolution is playing a lot bigger role than: "oh, the UI is using so low on the CPU/GPU that the resolution doesn't matter." yeah, for the UI itself the difference would not be that great, but on the most consumed apps like videos/games/modern web pages - it will.
  • Wardrive86 - Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - link

    I always look forward to your in depth reviews and architecture deep dives Andrei. I love your sustained performance tests..something only found at Anandtech currently. I honestly think you are the best writer Anandtech or any other tech site has had period...with that out of the way, I have one question and a potential request. Spec2006 shows the A12 having substantially better efficiency than it's competitors, finishing the finite tests faster with less total energy used by virtue of higher performance, but having higher average power draw. How would this correlate to an infinite test such as a high end 3d game like Shadowgun Legends or Asphalt 9? Would the higher average power draw remain at the same performance level of say a Snapdragon 835/845/Kirin 980? Also a request if you ever have time with your busy schedule, Could we get a sequel article to your 2015 article "The Mobile CPU core count debate" with more modern games and apps, comparisons of OpenGLES vs Vulkan on CPUs, etc.. I know I don't ask for much!
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    > How would this correlate to an infinite test such as a high end 3d game like Shadowgun Legends or Asphalt 9?

    For infinite workloads you just use the perf/W metric:

    Consequently if you're fps capped you can use Joules/frame but that's not a popular metric.

    > Could we get a sequel article to your 2015 article "The Mobile CPU core count debate" with more modern games and apps

    At some point.
  • zodiacfml - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    Performance reminds me of my AMD Vega 56 on reasonably low graphic settings at 4k/UHD resolution, it uses only 60 to 80 watts while gaming. Changing just one or two graphics settings shoots to its default power limit which is 180 watts.

    Anyways, I hope Apple release an iPod touch this year based from this SoC. It is terribly impressive which is good for gaming.
  • CHJ - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    I have been using the XR for the last few weeks. My previous phone was the Xperia XZ, and the one before that a 5s.

    I cannot stress enough how good the battery life is. I used to carry a 10000 mAh power brick around for a full day out just in case - that simply is not the case anymore. I can’t run this thing down below 20% (I do sometimes get close, meaning I probably will run down the XS on some days, especially taking into consideration battery degradation after some months). This has simplified my life quite a bit.

    As for the display, I was worried about it, but I honestly do not notice the lower resolution compared to the XZ in day-to-day usage. In fact, all things considered (color accuracy and True Tone), this has a better display imo. The lower resolution certainly helps battery life as well.

    The thicker bezels - this I do still notice, but the XR costs 330 USD less than the XS where I live, and a slightly worse display, the lack of a second lens and 3D Touch, and thicker bezels are acceptable compromises given the savings. And that amazing battery life, did I mention that? ;)

    All in all, I am very satisfied with my purchase.
  • CHJ - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - link

    Some other observations:

    The weight is noticeable, and the width of the phone does not aid in getting a comfortable grip. My fingers cannot wrap over the edge when I need to reach the top half of the screen. If you have large hands, you’ll be better off, I think.

    The stereo speakers are also much improved and genuinely useful. I find them to be sufficient for watching YouTube, which is pretty much all I need from phone speakers.

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