iPhone XR vs iPhone 7 Plus – What’s The Difference?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 02/04/21 •  10 min read

It’s time for the battle between the iPhone XR vs iPhone 7 Plus! Let’s not beat around the bush here: the iPhone XR is a vastly superior iPhone than the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s newer, it looks better, it has a larger and, therefore, better battery, and its camera is vastly improved. For this reason, there really is no comparison here – the iPhone XR is the one to go for.

If you want ultra-value for money, however, the iPhone 7 Plus is still a very attractive proposition. Or, if you’re interested, check out how the iPhone XR compares to the iPhone 7 here.

But if you’re looking at older iPhone models because you want to pick up a cheaper iPhone, then I have news for you – you don’t need to go super-old and get something like the iPhone 7 Plus or the iPhone 6. Instead, pick yourself up a newer, refurbished iPhone from Gazelle – they’re 40% cheaper than normal and look and function as good as new.

I’ve bought multiple refurbished iPhones over the years and I have never had a problem with any of them. Going this route has three main benefits: 1) it’s A LOT cheaper than buying a new iPhone; 2) you can get a newer iPhone model; and 3) you can buy the iPhone outright and then shop around for a cheap SIM-only plan, saving you hundreds of dollars over a 12 month period.

If you don’t want a used iPhone, check out our iPhone deals aggregator – it’ll help you find the best deal possible on your next iPhone.

The iPhone XR, thanks to it being a couple of years old, is now available refurbished. You can pick one up unlocked or carrier locked – the choice is yours. You can also get the iPhone X, which has an OLED display (unlike the iPhone 11), and the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, if you want Apple’s flagship models. What you don’t want to do is pick up an old iPhone like the iPhone 7 Plus and then have to replace it a year later when Apple stops supporting it – that would suck.

For this reason, if value for money is your #1 purchase intent, get yourself a newer iPhone refurbished – you’ll save 40% and get a newer iPhone that will be supported by Apple for years to come. It’s a win/win situation whichever way you slice it. And that is what everybody wants, right?

iPhone XR vs iPhone 7 Plus Quick Comparison

Here are the specs for the iPhone XR:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 7 Plus:

Design

The iPhone XR features an edge-to-edge display that is 6.1in and has a 2436×1125-pixel resolution at 458ppi. The iPhone 7 Plus features a 5.5in display with bezels that has a 1920×1080 resolution at 401ppi. Without a doubt, the iPhone XR’s display wins the day here-well, almost.

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In many aspects, the XR beats the 7 Plus: it has a larger display with a higher resolution, a higher pixel density, and is edge-to-edge. But not so fast, the iPhone 7 Plus beats the XR in one display aspect: the XR lacks 3D Touch, which the iPhone 7 Plus has. If you were never a fan of 3D Touch, that won’t matter much. But if you like the feature you’ll be disappointed it’s not in the XR.

The other obvious difference is that the iPhone XR lacks a Home button. It jettisons it in favor of a gesture-based Home control. The iPhone 7 Plus still has the Home button we all know and love. This means the iPhone 7 Plus also still has Touch ID. The iPhone XR lacks Touch ID and replaces it with Apple’s new Face ID facial recognition system.

Winner? iPhone XR – It’s a work of art compared to the 7 Plus.

Displays

Winner? iPhone XR – Its Display Is Bigger And More Beautiful.

CPU/Processor

Winner? iPhone XR – It’s 50% More Powerful Than iPhone 7 Plus.

Camera

When you get to the camera department, the two phones differ wildly. On the front camera, both phones feature the same 7MP sensor, but the front camera on the iPhone XR is a TrueDepth system that supports Face ID. It also supports advanced photo features like portrait photography.

But things are radically different when it comes to the rear camera. The iPhone 7 Plus features a dual-lens 12MP system with wide-angle and telephoto cameras, optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom, and 4K video recording.

On the other hand, the rear camera system on the XR is only a single-lens 12MP wide-angle camera. It does feature optical image stabilization and 4K video recording, as with the iPhone 7 Plus, but lacks the 2x optical zoom.

Winner? iPhone 7 Plus – That Dual-Lens Camera Can’t Be Beat By The Single-Lens Found On The XR.

Storage Options

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Battery Life

The iPhone XR has just a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 7 Plus. Will you see any difference because of it? Not much. Matter of fact, as you can see from the battery life specs below, each device is very similar. Here’s how the battery life compares between the two in Talk Time, Standby Time, Internet Use, Video Playback, and Audio Playback:

But the XR does stand out in one respect: it features wireless charging, where the 7 Plus does not.

As far s the CPU is concerned, the XR destroys the 7 Plus. It features the A12 Bionic chipset versus the iPhone 7 Plus’ A10 Fusion. The A12 is a 7nm chip with 6 cores. The CPU is almost twice as fast as the A10. You also have more storage options with the XR: 64, 128, or 256GB. That’s versus the iPhone 7 Plus’ 32 or 128GB storage options.

Winner? iPhone XR – It Has Better Battery Life Than iPhone 7 Plus

Price

Verdict?

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When it comes to design, display, and processing power, the choice is clear: go with the iPhone XR. It’s the more modern of the two phones and its power as a workhorse can’t be beaten by the iPhone 7 Plus. However, do keep in mind that while the iPhone XR has a better display, that display also lacks 3D Touch. If you’re a fan of that, you’ll want to get the iPhone 7 Plus.

Another reason to get the 7 Plus is if you want a dual-lens rear camera. The iPhone 7 Plus offers this, but the iPhone XR does not (which is a huge oversight on Apple’s part. Bottom line? Out of these two iPhone options, the iPhone XR is 100% the one to go for UNLESS you want a dual-lens camera.

Another option worth considering, however, is picking up a newer refurbished iPhone – something like the iPhone X or iPhone XR, which you can get for 40% less than retail via Gazelle, our #1 pick for refurbished iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and iMacs.

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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