iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus – How Do They Compare?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 02/02/21 •  9 min read

Welcome to the iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus faceoff! The iPhone XR is the superior phone in nearly all aspects when compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. The only area where the iPhone 8 Plus is better is imaging; the 8 Plus features a dual-lens camera, whereas the iPhone XR uses a single-lens camera. That’s literally it – otherwise, the XR is the better option. Of course, both the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone XR are years old in 2021. The iPhone 12 series is all the rage now. However, you can still buy the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone XR from many third-party resellers online, so it’s worth taking a look at both still.

Price Difference? 

However, it does create a rather tantalizing outcome. You can get a cheaper phone with a better camera, should you go with the iPhone 8 Plus. Want the best of everything else – battery life, design, performance – then go with the iPhone XR. It has you covered in all regards, save for imaging, when compared to the older iPhone 8 Plus.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus Quick Comparison

iPhone XRiPhone 8 Plus

Display: 6.1in LCD Liquid Retina display with a 2436×1125-pixel resolution at 458ppiDisplay: 5.5in Retina HD display with 1920x1080 resolution at 401ppi, 3D Touch enabled
Dimensions: 150.9mm x 75.7mm x 8.3mm (194g)Dimensions: 158.4mm x 78.1 mm x 7.5 mm (202g)
Storage Options: 64, 128, or 256GBStorage Options: 64 or 256GB
Camera: Single lens 12MP wide-angle camera, optical image stabilisation. 4K video.Camera: Single lens 12MP wide-angle camera, optical image stabilisation. 4K video
Battery Size: 2942 mAhBattery Size: 2675mAh
CPU: A12 Bionic CPU: A11 Bionic
Wireless Charging: YesWireless Charging: Yes
Water Resistant: Yes - IP68Water Resistant: Kinda - IP67


Winner? iPhone XR – It’s a work of art compared to the 8 Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus is Still a VERY Good Option – Even in 2021. If You Want To Save A Packet on an iPhone 8 Plus, Check Out Gazelle’s Refurbished Options – They’re 40% Cheaper Than Apple’s Rival Program…

Okay, the biggest difference is in their display size. The iPhone XR features an edge-to-edge display that is 6.1in and has a 1792-by-828-pixel resolution at 326ppi. The iPhone 8 Plus features a 5.5in display with bezels that has a 1920×1080 resolution at 401ppi.

So by most aspects, the 8 Plus beats the XR: it has a higher resolution, a higher pixel density. The iPhone 8 Plus also beats the XR in one other display aspect: the XR lacks 3D Touch, which the iPhone 8 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 8 Plus still has the Home button we all know and love. This means the iPhone 8 Plus also still has Touch ID. The iPhone XR lacks Touch ID and replaces it with Apple’s new Face ID facial recognition system.

iphone 8 plus vs iphone xr
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Winner? iPhone XR – Its Display Is Bigger And More Beautiful.


Winner? iPhone XR – It’s Much More Powerful Than iPhone 8 Plus.

As far as the CPU is concerned, the XR wins here. It features the A12 Bionic chipset versus the iPhone 8 Plus’ A11 Bionic. The A12 is a 7nm chip with 6 cores. The CPU is 15% faster and 40% more energy efficient than the previous A11. The GPU now has 4 cores and is 50% faster. Finally, the Neural engine now has 8 cores for machine learning and is almost 10 x faster. Apps launch 30% faster on the Max and Machine Learning runs nine times faster on 1/10th the energy. The A12 Bionic absolutely flies.

You also have more storage options with the XR: 64, 128, or 256GB. That’s versus the iPhone 8 Plus’ 64 or 256GB storage options.

Apple A12
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Storage Options

Battery Life

Winner? iPhone XR – It Has Slightly Better Battery Life Than iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone XR has just a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 8 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. Another similarity each device has is that they both offer wireless charging. Here’s how the battery life compares between the two in Talk Time, Standby Time, Internet Use, Video Playback, and Audio Playback:


iphone 7 vs iphone xr
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Winner? iPhone 8 Plus – That Dual-Lens Camera Can’t Be Beat By The Single-Lens Found On The XR.

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 8 Plus features a dual-lens 12MP system with wide-angle and telephoto cameras, optical image stabilisation, 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 stabilisation and 4K video recording, as with the iPhone 8 Plus, but lacks the 2x optical zoom.


Unlocked the 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus will cost £699 (64GB) and £849 (256GB). The 6.1in iPhone XR will cost £749 (64GB) and £799 (128GB) and £899 (256GB). That £50 premium for the iPhone XR does get you a bigger display and a sexy new design, but you also lose out on the dual-lens camera system of the iPhone 8 Plus. Which you get will ultimately depend on if the camera is more important to you, or the bigger display is.


When it comes to design, display, and processing power, the choice is clear: go with the iPhone XR. It’s the more modern-looking of the two phones and its power as a workhorse can’t be beaten by the iPhone 8 Plus, thanks to its A12 chipset. 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 8 Plus.

Another reason to get the 8 Plus is if you want a dual-lens rear camera. The iPhone 8 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 the best camera.

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

iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus Specifications Compared In Full

iphone 7 vs iphone xr
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Here are the specs for the iPhone XR:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 8 Plus:

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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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