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
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.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR features a glass and aluminum body with rounded edges. It comes in six different color options, including Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, and Red.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features a glass and aluminum body, but it features flat edges and has a narrower bezel. Its glass is also Ceramic Shield, which means it’s 4x more drop-resistant than the iPhone XR’s glass.
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.
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.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR features an LCD Liquid Retina HD display that is 6.1in and has a 1792 x 828-pixel resolution.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features an OLED Super Retina SDR display that is 6.1in and has a 2532 x 1160-pixel resolution.
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.
- iPhone XR – the iPhone XR features the A12 Bionic chipset.
- iPhone 12 – the iPhone 12 features the A14 Bionic chipset.
Winner? iPhone 12 – In some cases, the iPhone 12 will be up to 50% faster than the iPhone XR thanks to its A14 chipset.
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.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR features a 7MP selfie camera. Its rear camera is a single-lens 12MP wide-angle with no optical zoom.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features a 12MP selfie camera. On the rear, you get a dual-lens 12MP wide-angle and a 12MP telephoto lens setup. It also features a 2x optical zoom out and supports advanced features like Night mode.
Winner? iPhone 12 – The camera systems on offer are far superior to the iPhone XR.
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.
- iPhone XR – 64GB or 128GB
- iPhone 12 – 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB
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.
- iPhone XR – The iPhone XR’s battery will get you about 16 hours of battery life. It features regular wireless charging.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 will get you about 17 hours of battery life. It features wireless charging with Apple’s new MagSafe tech.
Winner? iPhone 12 – You get an extra hour of battery life as well as MagSafe charging support.
- iPhone XR – The 6.1in iPhone XR costs $499 (64GB) and $549 (128GB).
- iPhone 12 – The 6.1in iPhone 12 costs $799 (64GB) and $849 (128GB) and $949 (256GB).
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.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR: Specs
Here are the specs for the iPhone XR:
- Display: 6.1in LCD Liquid Retina HD display with a 1792 x 828-pixel resolution
- Dimensions: 150.9 mm x 75.7 mm x 8.3 mm
- Weight: 194 grams
- Storage: 64 or 128GB
- Processors: A12 Bionic chip
- Front camera: 7MP FaceTime HD camera
- Rear camera: Single 12MP Wide
- Battery: Up to 16 hours (video playback)
- Other: 4G, Face ID, NFC, wireless charging, IP67 waterproof (1m)
And here are the specs for the iPhone 12:
- Display: 6.1in OLED Super Retina SDR display with a 2532 x 1160-pixel resolution
- Dimensions: 146.7 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.4 mm
- Weight: 164 grams
- Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
- Processors: A14 Bionic chip
- Front camera: 12MP FaceTime HD camera
- Rear camera: 12 MP Ultra Wide and 12MP Wide. 2x optical zoom out
- Battery: Up to 17 hours (video playback)
- Other: 5G, Face ID, NFC, wireless charging with MagSafe, IP68 waterproof (6m)
Be sure to check out our iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison, too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is XR better than iPhone 12?
No, the iPhone 12 is the better phone. That’s because the iPhone 12 has an OLED display, 5G support, an A14 chipset, and a dual-lens rear camera. The iPhone XR lacks all of this.
Q: Is the iPhone XR worth buying in 2021?
Yeah, if you are looking for a cheaper iPhone model, the iPhone XR is still a great phone. And because the iPhone XR will likely receive iOS updates for another four years, you’ll still get plenty of use out of the XR for a long time to come.
Q: How big is the iPhone 12 vs xr?
When it comes to the size of the display, both the iPhone 12 and iPhone XR have 6.1in screens. However, the iPhone 12 is actually thinner and physically smaller than the iPhone XR.
- iPhone XR dimensions: 150.9 mm x 75.7 mm x 8.3 mm
- iPhone 12 dimensions: 146.7 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.4 mm
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.