The iPhone XR was Apple’s first iPhone to offer a flagship-like experience at a slightly lower price point. The device was a huge hit and since its launch in 2018, Apple has only refined this formula further. In 2020, this result of this is the iPhone 12. If you own an iPhone XR, should you consider upgrading to the iPhone 12? Read our comparison to find out.
The iPhone XR was a great phone for its time and two years later, it can still hold its own. However, the iPhone 12 brings plenty of new features to the table that does make it a very attractive proposition.
iPhone XR vs iPhone 12 Comparison: Should You Upgrade?
- iPhone XR – 6.1-inch True Tone Liquid Retina HD LCD display, 1792 x 828 pixels (326 ppi), Haptic Touch
- iPhone 12 – 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2532 x 1170 (460 ppi), Haptic Touch, HDR Display, True Tone, HDR10, Dolby Vision
One of the biggest upgrades on the iPhone 12 is the new Super Retina XDR display. This is the same display that Apple uses on its iPhone 11 Pro lineup albeit with a slightly lower typical brightness. The OLED panel on the iPhone 12 is far better than the iPhone XR’s Liquid Retina LCD panel in every aspect — brightness, colors, contrast, and even resolution. The iPhone 12’s Super Retina XDR display supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision content, higher peak brightness of 1200 nits, and a near-infinite contrast ratio. If you consume a lot of content, the iPhone 12’s display alone makes it worth the upgrade.
What’s even better is that Apple has reduced the bezel size so the iPhone 12 is actually smaller and lighter than the iPhone 12 despite featuring the same display size.
- iPhone XR – 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm, 194g, IP67 certified
- iPhone 12 – 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm, 164g, IP68 certified
The iPhone 12 features a redesigned chassis with flat edges akin to the 2020 iPad Pro lineup. What’s impressive is that despite retaining the same 6.1-inch display size as the iPhone XR and iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 is smaller, thinner (7.4mm vs 8.3mm), and lighter (164gms vs 194gms).
The iPhone 12 also features better dust and water-resistance. Its IP68 certification is now rated for up to 6m depth for up to 30 mins which is notably better than iPhone XR’s IP67 rating which is rated for 1m. Another relatively minor difference is that the iPhone 12 is available in five colors while the iPhone XR is available in six colors, with yellow being missing from the iPhone 12 color palette.
- iPhone XR – 7nm A12 Bionic chipset, Second-generation Neural engine
- iPhone 12 – A14 Bionic, 5nm fab, 16-core Neural engine
The A12 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone XR was a performance beast when it first debuted in 2018. Two years later, it is still a very good chipset but the A14 Bionic inside the iPhone 12 is another league altogether. Based on the 5nm fabrication process, the 6-core CPU of the chip offers a 40 percent boost in performance while the 4-core GPU brings about a 30 percent performance jump. The Neural Engine has also gotten a major boost and now boasts of 16 cores making it twice as fast as before. Lastly, the second-generation ML boosts machine learning calculations by 10 times.
Apple claims the new CPU is 50% faster than other smartphone CPUs in the market. The GPU is also up to 50% faster than any other smartphone GPU. With such a massive performance bump across the board, the iPhone 12 lineup is once again going to set a new bar in terms of performance. The faster Neural Engine, ISP, and ML will also greatly benefit apps that are increasingly relying on them for complex and specific tasks.
- iPhone XR – 64GB, 128GB
- iPhone 12– 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
The only notable upgrade the iPhone 12 brings here is a new 256GB storage option. Otherwise, the base storage options for both phones start at 64GB.
- iPhone XR – Single 12MP camera setup with f/1.8, 1.4um large pixels, OIS, Smart HDR, Focus Pixels, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth control, True Tone Flash
- iPhone 12 – Dual 12MP camera setup with f/1.6 and f/2.4 aperture, 1.4um large pixels, OIS, Smart HDR 3, Focus Pixels, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth control, Brighter True Tone Flash, Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Dolby Vision with HDR recording, Night mode Time-lapse
The iPhone XR features a single 12MP shooter at its rear with an f/1.8 aperture. While impressive, the iPhone 12 features a better and more versatile dual-camera setup. The primary shooter has a wider f/1.6 aperture and it is paired with a new 7P lens. There’s also a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide shooter that is incredibly handy to have in many situations. Apart from the hardware improvements, the iPhone 12’s camera setup features Smart HDR 3 and Deep Fusion which means better image processing.
Another thing to note is that the iPhone 12 comes with a 12MP TrueDepth camera while the iPhone XR has a 7MP TrueDepth camera. This allows the former to capture better selfies and also helps with Face ID as it has a slightly wider field of operation.
- iPhone XR – LTE-A, VoLTE, Dual-SIM, Wi-Fi ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Reader mode
- iPhone 12 – 5G, Gigabit LTE, Dual-SIM, Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Reader mode, Ultra-Wideband chip
The iPhone 12 represents a huge upgrade over the iPhone XR in the connectivity department. Some of the improvements like Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6, and U1 chip might not seem like a big deal on paper but they have a pretty noticeable impact while in daily use.
- iPhone XR – Face ID
- iPhone 12 – Face ID
While both phones have Face ID, the iPhone 12’s implementation is slightly faster and works at a slightly wider field of view. In other aspects though, the experience is largely the same and there’s no real improvement here on the iPhone 12.
Battery Life and Charging
- iPhone XR – Up to 16 hours of video playback, 65 hours of video playback, Qi wireless charging support
- iPhone 12 – Up to 17 hours of video playback, 65 hours of video playback, MagSafe Charging support
Despite the addition of 5G, an OLED display, and other improvements, the iPhone 12 is rated to offer longer battery life than the iPhone XR. That’s impressive considering it can do a lot more in a short period of time. Both iPhones also support fast charging so they can be charged from 0-50% in just 30 minutes.
While the iPhone XR also supports wireless charging, it lacks support for MagSafe charging. The latter allows MagSafe-compatible chargers to automatically snap at the back of the device. Additionally, the iPhone 12 also supports up to 15W wireless charging when used with a MagSafe charger.
- iPhone XR – Started from $749, Now available for $499
- iPhone 12 – Starts from $799
When the iPhone XR first launched, it was available for $749. After a few price cuts, it now retails for $499. In comparison, the iPhone 12 starts at $799 — a $50 premium over the original iPhone XR’s retail price. For that extra $50, you sure do get a lot of new features but if you already own an iPhone XR, the equation becomes a bit more complex. Yes, the iPhone 12 packs some impressive new features but if you don’t really need an improved camera or better display, my recommendation would be to stick to using your iPhone XR for another year.
Are you planning on upgrading to the iPhone 12 from the iPhone XR? If so, did our comparison above help in changing your mind? Or are the better display, new cameras, and 5G too big a deal for you? Drop a comment and let us know!