iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR – What’s The Difference?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 10/15/20 •  7 min read

The iPhone XR made waves a few years ago when Apple introduced it. It was the first “low cost” iPhone with an all-screen design and Face ID (it debuted alongside the iPhone XS, the successor to the iPhone X). As the iPhone XR is more than a few years old now, many were supposed that Apple has kept it around after the introduction of the iPhone 12.

But that’s just what they’ve done–despite knowing the new star of their lineup is the iPhone 12. So why keep the iPhone XR around? Mainly because they can offer it to customers for a much lower cost–meaning the iPhone has a cheaper price point for entry. But how do the iPhone XR and the iPhone 12 compare against each other? Let’s find out.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR Quick Comparison

iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR – What’s The Difference?
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Both iPhones feature a glass and aluminum design, but the biggest difference between the two is in the frame of the phones. The iPhone XR has a rounded frame while the iPhone 12 has a flat frame (ala the iPhone 4). The flat frame makes the iPhone 12 much easier to handle.

Another small difference between the two is that the iPhone 12 has slightly narrower bezels.

Winner? iPhone 12 – The flat edges of the iPhone 12 give the device a sleeker look than the XR. Plus the narrower bezels allow for a slight reduction in overall size and weight.

MORE: A “Portless” iPhone WILL Happen – It’s Just A Matter of Time…


There is a MASSIVE difference between the iPhone 12 and iPhone XR when it comes to display. While both have a 6.1in display, the display on the iPhone 12 is OLED whereas the display on the iPhone XR is LCD.

The OLED panel has a much higher resolution, better contrast, better colors, and blacker blacks. There’s just no contest between these two displays. The iPhone 12 clearly has the better one.

Winner? iPhone 12 – Though both phones have the same sized display, the iPhone 12 features an OLED panel, which makes the display sharper, crisper, and offers up better colors than that on the iPhone XR.


The CPU is the brain and brawn of any smartphone. Apple’s CPUs, know as A-series chips, have always blown away anything available for Android. When it comes to the iPhone 12 and the iPhone XR, it should be no surprise that the iPhone 12 has the better CPU–the A14.

Why? Because the A14 is two generations ahead of the A12 CPU found in the iPhone XR. Because of advancements in A-series architecture during those two generations, the A14 is much more powerful–almost 50% so.

Winner? iPhone 12 – In some cases, the iPhone 12 will be up to 50% faster than the iPhone XR thanks to its A14 chipset.

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One of the biggest differentiators between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone XR are the cameras. The iPhone 12 has a 12MP front selfie camera while the iPhone XR has a 7MP front selfie camera. Right there the 12 beats the XR.

But the iPhone 12 gets even better. That’s because it has a dual-lens camera system on the rear. It’s a 12MP wide-angle and a 12MP telephoto lens setup. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, only has a single-lens 12MP wide camera.

Winner? iPhone 12 – The camera systems on offer are far superior to the iPhone XR.

Storage Options

There’s not too much to see here. Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone XR come in a 64GB and 128GB option, but only the iPhone 12 also comes in a 256GB option.

MORE: iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro: The Big Guns Face Off!

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 12 does get you more power-but only an extra hour’s worth. That’s not too much more. However, while both iPhones also offer wireless charging, the big advantage the iPhone 12 has over the iPhone XR is the fact that it supports the optional MagSafe charger. This is the conductive charger that snaps on the back of it.

Winner? iPhone 12 – You get an extra hour of battery life as well as MagSafe charging support.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR – What’s The Difference?
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The iPhone XR was a killer phone in its heyday, but compared to the iPhone 12, its features are lacking. The biggest advantages the iPhone 12 has over the iPhone XR are its display, chipset, and rear cameras. That’s not to mention its support for 5G cellular networks.

That being said, the iPhone XR is still a great phone given its cost. Starting at just $499, it beats many comparably-priced Android phones. It’s also a great entry-level iPhone for people who just want an iOS device with a large screen, but don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Of course, when you compare the iPhone XR to the iPhone 12–the iPhone 12, in the end, is the clear winner.

MORE: How To Set Up Your New iPhone 12 – There are TWO Ways To Do It!

iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR: Specs

iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR – What’s The Difference?
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Here are the specs for the iPhone XR:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 12:

Be sure to check out our iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison, too!

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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