Sunday , October 24 2021

iPhone XR vs. XS: Is the XS camera worth the extra money?


If you decide between the new iPhone XS and its cheaper, more colorful siblings, your choice ultimately comes down to the camera. IPhone XS (999 USD) and iPhone XR (749 USD) have many of the same specifications, but XS has two lenses at the back, while the iPhone XR has only one. Is the second lens – which allows you to use 2x optical zoom, which is not available on XR – worth? This is a $ 250 question.

We downloaded both phones for a photo shoot in San Francisco to get to know the differences and help in choosing between the latest Apple iPhone & # 39; ami.

General photos and video are neck

Viewing results on real-world phone screens can be confusing because two phones use different screen technology. The iPhone XS has an OLED display that shows richer colors and deeper blacks than the LCD screen of the iPhone and XR, which has a slightly different color temperature and less contrast.

But if you look at it from the phone on the same computer screen, you will have difficulty seeing any differences when it comes to your everyday photos of people, landscapes or objects. This is because in theory they should be exactly the same. The iPhone XR has a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with an aperture of f1.8 and optical image stabilization. It also happens that this is the main lens of the iPhone XS – the one you use for most shots that are not in portrait or zoom mode. Both have the same image sensors, the same processing software and the same new Smart HDR feature that Apple has added to the cameras in his iPhone 2018: XS, XS Max and XR. (XS Max has exactly the same double rear camera as XS – it has only a bigger screen).

general sunset

This sunset looks great on both phones: the colors in the sky look alive, and the city below looks spicy despite the difficult light.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The effects are impressive: the colors look alive, the lights and shadows are well balanced and the shot looks sharp. The same applies to video. Both the iPhone XS and XR belong to the best phones that we tested for videowhether you're a novice photographer or just make fun clips of your kids.

Winner: Draw

Selfies: Same cameras from the front

Selfie should also look exactly the same. Both the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS have 7-megapixel front camera it is able to see the depth. This "TrueDepth"The camera, as Apple calls it, is what enables the FaceID unlocking function, and also provides the basis for the portrait mode of the iPhone & # 39; and for selfie.

Although last year's iPhone X was the only Apple & # 39; s stable that used a lot of lighting effects directly on the camera interface, the iPhone XR can access all the same settings as the iPhone XS on the front camera, which means it really there is no difference.

Winner: Draw


Both phones have the same camera with depth detection function, which faces the self-portraits in portrait mode.

Cesar Salza / CNET

Zoom: a large distinguishing feature

Here you can start to notice the difference between these two phones. The iPhone XS uses the latter, a telephoto lens as an optical 2x zoom, and then switches to digital zoom. The iPhone XR uses only digital zoom.

This means that photos and videos in the same 2x magnification will look sharper on the iPhone XS than on the iPhone XR. This is because the iPhone XR relies on the software itself that can be cut in the frame, not the lens that can capture higher quality natively.


One shot on the iPhone XS looks sharper at 5X zoom because of the second telephoto lens.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

Since the iPhone XR does not have such an optical zoom, you can maximize the magnification of a 5x zoom. The iPhone XS can increase up to 10 times using a combination of optical and digital zoom.

lowlight-zoom5x10x-Coit Tower

The iPhone XS can reach up to 10x zoom, while the iPhone XR can only grow up to 5x.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

It is much easier to use the XS magnification. The iPhone XS has a 2-times shortcut on the camera interface that allows you to switch to a telephoto closer at the touch of a button (basically switching between two lenses). The button also changes into the slider tool to magnify up to 10 times with one hand, which is especially useful during filming. The iPhone XR requires a manual crop to zoom in, meaning you'll need both hands to zoom in and the effect is not as smooth as the slider.

Winner: iPhone XS, hands down

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Portraits: dogs are not accepted

If you use the camera interface, the "Portrait" option will look the same on both phones, but it achieves a blurred background effect in various ways. The iPhone XS uses a second telephoto lens to capture the subject and uses information from both the wide-angle lens and the telephoto lens, combined with the software to determine what focus to focus on and what to blur on the shot. The iPhone XR only has this single wide-angle lens, so it's based on software to separate the background and the foreground.


The iPhone XR uses a wide-angle lens for the portrait, while XS uses a second telephoto lens that approaches the subject.

Cesar Salza / CNET

At first glance, the biggest difference between pictures in portrait mode on these phones is the distance they were taken from. One shot on the iPhone XR seems to have been taken much further than the XS photo, even though they were taken from the same distance. This is because XR uses a wide-angle lens that can fit more in the shot, while XS uses a telephoto lens that appears to be taken from a closer angle.

But getting the effect of working on XR was more challenging than on XS, which is able to close itself in the yellow box of the portrait mode almost on command. Thanks to XR I became convinced that I was constantly adjusting the distance to start it. And when you have squirmy entities (also known as children) these extra seconds are crucial.


The portrait mode on the iPhone XR did not start quickly enough to capture the toddler, so only XS was able to create a blurred background effect.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

But when he does it well, XR creates nice portraits that compete with those on XS. The blur effect on XS appears to be more natural, especially around the edge of the object. But the objects on XR shots appear brighter and sharper. Plus you have a wider angle to work.

The disadvantage of this wider angle on the XR is that it can distort the edges of the shot – or faces if the subject is too close to the lens.

XR portrait mode is also limited to humans only, whereas the iPhone XS can attack people, animals, plants, food and almost any inanimate object (although it still struggles with certain objects). Apple may add this feature to XR with a future software update and install a third-party application that will allow it, but for now, the "no-detect" sign will appear in the camera's interface if you try to include anything other than a human face.


Face detection iPhone XR does not recognize the face of my dog.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The exception to this rule is the situation in which the person is next to the animal. When I put my dog ​​next to my toddler in the frame, the iPhone XR was able to capture them and properly blur the background. But it required a lot of adjustment and a lot of patience. XS obtained my objects almost immediately in portrait mode.


The iPhone XR can capture animals only in portrait mode when there is a human being in the frame.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

Both phones have editing tools in portrait mode that allow you to adjust blur intensity before and after taking a picture. They also have some lighting effects. But the iPhone XR does not include the dramatic effect of stage lighting that blinks out of the background, or a stage mono light that does the same in black and white.

Winner: iPhone XS, but XR is good enough in many situations, if you spend some time to fit it correctly

Poor portraits

Here is the place where the XR portrait mode works. Because he uses the main lens with a wider aperture, he is able to allow more light in poorly lit scenarios.


Pictures in low light mode in portrait mode are brighter in the XR phone, because they use a lens with a wider angle and a wider proverbial that allows more light.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The same portrait image on the XS looks loud and dark compared to one shot on the XR, which looks brighter and sharper.

Winner: iPhone XR

The overall winner is …

Ultimately it boils down to what you will use your phone for. The iPhone XR will do the same if 99.9 percent of your photos are taken in automatic mode. There is no significant difference in image quality between the two phones for general photos and videos, and you can save $ 250 or more if you make the decision only on the camera.

But the iPhone XS is your camera if, like me, you do many portraits of children and animals that do not like to hold the pose. Or if you use photo and movie enlargement.

In addition, there are other features that should not be considered: XS (and XS Max) has a nicer OLED screen and is available in a larger (or smaller) 5.8- or 6.5-inch display compared to a 6.1-inch screen LCD iPhone XR. The XS has a stainless steel frame and greater water resistance, and the XR has more color options to choose from.

Either way, you can not go wrong. Both of these phones have impressive cameras that can create great photos.

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