The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were the last of its kind. The last iPhones with massive bezels and Touch ID. In Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup, they are replaced by the iPhone XR. So, is the iPhone XR worth the upgrade over the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus? Or should you just stick to your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus for another year? Read our decision calculator to find out.
iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus to iPhone XR – Upgrade or Not?
Before you actually think about upgrading to the iPhone XR, you need to ask yourself why do you want to upgrade from your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus? Do you want better battery life and camera? Or do you want a bigger display and better design? Or you are simply bored with the device? Barring the last one, it makes sense to upgrade to the iPhone XR for any of the other reasons mentioned as it represents a huge step up in these departments.
Bezel-less Design and Bigger Display
The biggest upgrade from the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 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 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
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 8 Plus. If you are coming from the iPhone 8 and its 4.7-inch display, this is going to be a huge jump.
The iPhone XR is definitely bigger than the iPhone 8 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.
The iPhone XR does lack 3D Touch and instead features Haptic Touch. Until and unless you use 3D Touch heavily, its unlikely you are going to miss it much.
Coming from the iPhone 8 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 8 Plus.
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.
Thanks to all the performance improvements introduced by Apple with iOS 12, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus can still hold their own against the iPhone XR’s A12 Bionic chip. The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone XR also have the same amount of RAM so their multitasking performance is going to be largely the same as well.
TrueDepth Camera, Face ID
While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 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 8 and iPhone 8 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 8 and iPhone 8 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.
Unlike the iPhone 8 Plus and like the iPhone 8, 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 addition of Smart HDR on the iPhone XR means it can capture photos with better dynamic range and details which the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with Auto HDR lack. The iPhone XS also offers extended dynamic range, stereo recording, and cinematic video stabilization which is missing from the older two iPhones.
The only thing missing is 2x optical zoom which is found on the iPhone 8 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 8 or iPhone 8 Plus for the improved imaging performance.
The dual-SIM functionality of the iPhone XR might give you a reason to upgrade to it from your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 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.
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 8 or iPhone 8 Plus.
The battery life of the smaller iPhone 8 is definitely not its strong suit, while the iPhone 8 Plus is a battery life beast. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. It manages to offer better battery life than even the iPhone XS Max and leaves the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus far behind.
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 8 Plus.
All three devices feature fast wired charging and regular wireless charging, though wireless charging is slightly faster on the iPhone XR.
This is what makes the upgrade to the iPhone XR tempting. If you can sell your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus for anywhere around $300-$400, you can upgrade to the iPhone XR by paying another $300-$400 extra which is worth it in my opinion. If you do upgrade, my suggestion would be to upgrade to the 128GB variant of the iPhone XR which only carries a $50 premium over the base 64GB variant. This will come in handy down the line if you intend to use your iPhone XR for 2-3 years.
Ultimately, the upgrade from the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus to the iPhone XR makes a lot of sense provided you are looking to upgrade. Otherwise, the iPhone 8 is still a fine device by today’s standards and you can easily use it for another year without any issues.