Should You Upgrade from iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus to iPhone XR? A Decision Calculator

iPhone 7 vs iPhone XR

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are now getting old in the run. While their performance might have received a boost post the iOS 12 update, their camera performance, display, and battery life are simply not up to 2018 standards. If you own an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus and are wondering if you should upgrade to the iPhone XR or not, read our decision calculator to find out.

Firstly, if you are satisfied with your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, there’s little reason to upgrade to the iPhone XR. If you want to upgrade solely because the battery of your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus has deteriorated, you might want to take advantage of Apple’s $29 battery replacement program and simply get the battery replaced. But if you are ready to spend the moolah for the upgrade, read our decision calculator below.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to iPhone XR – Upgrade or Not?

Bezel-less Design and Bigger Display

The biggest upgrade from the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus to the iPhone XR is in terms of design and display. The iPhone XR has the same design language as the iPhone X and iPhone XS which means a notched display at the front with minimal bezels. Sure, it does have slightly more bezels than its more premium iPhone X/XS siblings but it is still far better than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As a bonus, the iPhone XR is available in six different colors, while the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are only available in 4.

The iPhone XR comes with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display which is notably bigger than the 5.5-inch LCD panel of the iPhone 7 Plus. If you are coming from the iPhone 7 and its 4.7-inch display, this is going to be a huge jump.

The iPhone XR is definitely bigger than the iPhone 7 but thanks to its 19.5:9 aspect ratio display, it is actually relatively easy to use one-handed. If you are wary of the jump in display size making the iPhone XR difficult to use, you might want to check out the device first from your nearby local Apple store before pulling the trigger.

iPhone XR Best Features 5

Coming from the iPhone 7 Plus, you will feel right at home since the taller aspect ratio and smaller bezels mean the iPhone XR has largely the same dimensions as the iPhone 7 Plus.

The overall display quality is also noticeably better, with the iPhone XR supporting Dolby Vision and HDR10 playback.

The iPhone XR does lack 3D Touch when compared to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, with Apple instead replacing it with Haptic Touch. Given that 3D Touch has not really taken off, you are not likely to miss it on the iPhone XR.

In terms of water-resistance, all three devices are the same as they carry an IP67 certification thereby making them water-resistant for up 30 minutes in 1m depth. The iPhone XR features glass panels at the front and rear, while the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature an aluminum chassis. The glass design does make the iPhone XR less durable but it offers other advantages like wireless charging.

Performance

iOS 12 has brought about notable performance improvements particularly on older iPhones like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. While the A10 Fusion chip is still plenty fast, the A12 Bionic inside the iPhone XR is in a different level altogether. Plus, the A12 Bionic also has an 8-core Neural engine which means the device will be notably faster for AI and ML (Machine Learning) based tasks.

An average user is going to see some modest improvements after upgrading from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone XR. However, if you are a heavy user, the faster app loading times will definitely help you become more productive.

Since the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone XR come with the same amount of RAM (3GB), you are not going to notice any improvements in terms of multitasking. iPhone 7 users, however, will notice slightly improved multitasking performance with the iPhone XR.

TrueDepth Camera, Face ID

While the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature a regular FaceTime HD camera, the iPhone XR features a TrueDepth camera sensor. The latter is significantly more complex and consists of a bunch of sensors alongside a 7MP shooter. This allows the TrueDepth camera system to capture depth information. It also allows Apple to offer Face ID on the handset which is now even faster than on the iPhone X from last year.

In comparison, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature Touch ID. While it is more reliable, fingerprint scanners are now a thing of the past in Apple’s ecosystem as the company is now heavily pushing its Face ID technology since it is more convenient and futuristic.

The iPhone XS front camera also captures better videos with extended dynamic range and cinematic video stabilization.

The TrueDepth camera on the iPhone XR also allows it to offer features like Animoji, Memoji, and capture Portrait selfies with depth control. All these features are missing on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus since it lacks the necessary hardware. While not an immediate reason to upgrade, there’s no denying the fact that Face ID is more convenient than Touch ID — at least when it works properly. And Memoji, Animoji are cool new ways to interact with your loved ones.

Rear Camera

Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus and like the iPhone 7, the iPhone XR only comes with a single 12MP shooter at its rear. However, you might want to think again before dismissing the device for its single camera setup.

The 12MP shooter on the iPhone XR is the same as the primary 12MP shooter of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. This means we are looking at a f/1.8 12MP sensor with 1.4um large pixels and Smart HDR. This means the iPhone XR’s imaging performance is going to be extremely similar to that of the iPhone XS Max which as per DxOMark has among the best smartphone camera in the market. And despite coming with a single shooter, the iPhone XR offers Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting mode as well.

The iPhone XR also has better video recording capabilities as it offers stereo recording, extended dynamic range, and cinematic video stabilization.

The only thing missing is 2x optical zoom which is found on the iPhone 7 Plus. However, given the poor quality photos the secondary lens takes, I doubt it is going to stop anyone from upgrading to the iPhone XR from the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus for the improved imaging performance.

Dual-SIM

The dual-SIM functionality of the iPhone XR might give you a reason to upgrade to it from the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. However, before you upgrade, make sure to check that your carrier has support for eSIM. Unlike other dual-SIM phones, the iPhone XR features an eSIM slot. This means you will have to register on the second network from within the device. This feature is carrier dependent and right now, it has only been rolled out in ten countries by select carriers.

The iPhone XR does not feature a Gigabit LTE modem which means you are not going to notice any improved LTE speeds which is a shame. On the bright side, it does feature the very latest version of Bluetooth (v5.0).

Sadly, the iPhone XR does not come with Gigabit LTE so you are going to get the same LTE speeds as you get on your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.

Battery Life

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus had decent battery life for their time, but they don’t hold a candle when compared to the iPhone XR. The iPhone XR offers up to 25 hours of talk time and 15 hours of internet use compared to 21 hours and 13 hours of the iPhone 7 Plus.

Perhaps the improved battery life of the iPhone XR is going to be one key reason for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users to upgrade to it.

Even better, the iPhone XR supports fast wired charging meaning it can charge from 0-50 percent in just 30 minutes. And it also has wireless charging which the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus lack.

Price

You are roughly going to pay the same amount of money for the iPhone XR as you paid for your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus back in the day. What’s even better is that the base variant of the iPhone XR features twice the amount of storage as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — 64GB vs 32GB.

However, if you do plan to buy the iPhone XR, my recommendation would be to buy the 128GB variant by paying $50 extra as it would help you down the line.


Given how old the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have become, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade to the iPhone XR for the improved camera, display, design, and battery life. Are the new features in iPhone XR enough to tempt you to upgrade to it? Or will you continue using your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus for another year?

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