iPhone XR iPhone XR mini review - Gorgeous phone overall, but text somewhat blurrier than Plus/XS/Max

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by EugW, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. EugW, Oct 26, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018

    EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #1
    I got my wife's PRODUCT(RED) iPhone XR today. First of all, the phone is truly gorgeous, and IMO looks better than the XS and Max, and definitely better than my silver 7 Plus. The forehead and chin on the Plus models just seem so large these days, and the gain of vertical screen space on the XR is very welcome. The red colour with the matching red anodized aluminum is frickin' beautiful. I'd hazard to say it's the best looking iPhone Apple has ever made, at least as beautiful as my previous favourite, the iPhone 4. The only concern is the potential chipping of the anodization, esp. around the Lightning port, but wireless charging would minimize the risk of chipping.

    I did not have time to test the camera. However, one thing I'd like is the wide angle portrait mode. One that annoys me about the Plus/XS/Max is that you always have to use 2X for portrait mode. I'd like to be able to choose 1X vs 2X.

    Face ID is very fast, and seems faster than what I've seen on previous models, to the point where Face ID lag isn't a significant issue. Face ID on the X was a little bit of a disappointment, because of the speed, so the speed boost is very nice.

    Yes, the screen bezels are wider on the XR than on the XS Max, but I don't notice that visually during actual usage. However, I do notice the bigger dimensions in the hand vs the XS, even though I'm coming from a 7 Plus. So, while the bezels don't bother me in terms of visual aesthetics, when holding it they do make the phone feel heftier than the screen size might suggest. Part of that is the increased thickness of the XR though.

    I have confirmed that Zoomed Display mode is supported on the XR like the Max, something the XS and X don't have. Zoomed Display mode turns the XR into a bigger XS, for those of you who want bigger text and screen elements if you tend to hold your phone further away (say if you have presbyopia). However, the text size isn't quite as big as with the Plus or the Max in Zoomed Display mode.

    The brightness is very good, and the colours are great. Overall the contrast is decent for an IPS LCD, but the blacks aren't anywhere near as good as the OLED blacks. That said, with my usage, I didn't really care, since the time to notice the blacks is in a dark environment, and I generally prefer to use my iPhone with ambient light, where the black levels are less critical. Honestly, despite the fact I own and love my LG C8 OLED TV, I would have no problem going without OLED blacks on my iPhone. It's just not a big deal to me on an iPhone.

    I don't like True Tone. I have simply turned that off. And I'm glad 3D Touch is gone, since I never used it, and neither did my wife. I tried using it for 3 months, but just thought it was pointless. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I hope this is a sign that all 2019 models will forego 3D Touch. The possible adoption of the cover glass sensor technology next year for the OLEDs (like the XR this year) may mean bye, bye 3D Touch for the OLED models next year too.

    Now about that text quality... Text quality was overall pretty decent, but not surprisingly given its 326 ppi, it just wasn't as good as on the Plus (7 Plus in my case) or the XS/Max. Small text was sometimes noticeably blurrier on the XR than the Plus both in Standard Display mode and in Zoomed Display mode. I mentioned earlier that the larger bezels don't bother me at all visually, but the somewhat blurrier small text did. It was something I repeatedly noticed when surfing Safari. However, it seemed to depend somewhat on which font was used, and as mentioned, it was dependent upon text size. For larger fonts it's not an issue. It's only an issue with the smallest fonts. I only tested English, but for example Chinese characters could be affected even more in this scenario.

    Could I get used to the somewhat blurrier small text coming from a 7 Plus? Probably, but it would definitely be a compromise for me. OTOH, it's a non-issue for my wife, esp. since she's coming from a 6s (and for the last few weeks temporarily, an SE). Furthermore, I suspect it's a non-issue for the large majority of the population, but for those of us who have looked for and seen the text quality differences, the bottom line is that the XR is still a 326 ppi display and the limitations of 326 ppi are still visible. Apple says it's the best LCD they've ever made. In some ways it is, but I'd say the more accurate statement would be that it's the best 326 ppi LCD they've ever made.

    We got the 128 GB model. 64 GB is just a little too tight for us, but 256 GB is overkill, which makes the XR 128 GB a way, way better value overall compared to the XS Max. (I'm not comparing against the XS, since in some ways the XS is a downgrade vs the XR.) I will keep my 128 GB 7 Plus for another year and reassess. Hopefully, the 2019 Max is either cheaper (possible, but I'm not counting on it) or else comes with an entry level of 128 GB (unlikely). However, the perfect XR replacement IMO would be a 401 ppi LCD version but I definitely don't see that happening. Too bad, because I'd buy a 401 ppi 2019 XR in a heartbeat.

    BTW, I put a Spigen tempered glass screen protector on it, and it's a perfect fit. The Spigen I got also comes with an installation guide frame, which makes the process completely foolproof. It's great.

    2FE4AF57-8F06-493E-B56C-D91DF19ECC61.jpeg
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  2. Alphazoid macrumors 6502a

    Alphazoid

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2014
    #2
    Glad i trusted my instincts and opted for the iPhone X instead. Cos that would bug the heck out of me as a former plus user.

    PS i also use the same screen protector. its great but you have to be careful when applying it.
     
  3. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #3
    Note that the XR (like the Max) displays 22% more screen information than the X and XS.

    The upscale model to the XR is actually the XS Max.
     
  4. Alphazoid macrumors 6502a

    Alphazoid

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2014
    #4
    I understand that. But i read a lot of text on my phone so blurriness would be a big downer. I'd rather see less with more sharpness than more with reduced sharpness. But that's just my preference
     
  5. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #5
    Yeah, that makes sense.

    In my case though, next year, the comparison will be the 2019 XR vs the 2019 Max. I figure since I'm already used the Plus size, I may as well get something as big, to get both more text and more sharpness.

    P.S. I've been playing with the SE tonight after setting up my wife with the XR, and I don't think I'd be able to use the SE anymore for an extended period. Everything is just so small. Text size isn't really the problem but the very limited screen space for text, and also the much smaller keys on the keyboard make it annoying now.

    Not sure what to do with this SE. I suspect I won't get much if I try to sell it to Orchard, so maybe I'll just keep it as a backup, esp. since it's still decently peppy with its 2 GB RAM and A9 SoC.

    BTW, the 3 GB of the XR seems plenty (just like on my 7 Plus). The 4 GB on the Max isn't really a selling point for me.
     
  6. kazmac macrumors 604

    kazmac

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    On the silver scream
    #6
    Thanks for the extensive review @EugW - blurry text is a massive dealbreaker for me. Hope the Missues enjoys it. Beautiful phone, but looks like I'll just get my 7+ battery replaced when I feel I have to.
     
  7. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #7
    Yeah, YMMV. I just want to reiterate though that most people will not have a problem with the text on the XR. Your missus will love it I'm sure. And for me, having seen it in person, I'd say it's not a complete dealbreaker, although it is definitely a big thing to consider coming from a Plus.

    Mind you, if the XS Max were US$200 cheaper, for me it would be the no-brainer choice over the XR... assuming I have no problems with PWM flicker. I haven't used an X/XS/Max long enough to know if PWM flicker is a problem for me or not.

    None of this would be an issue though had Apple simply gone with a higher ppi display in the XR. If they had, the XR would have been the no-brainer choice for me.
     
  8. Geert76 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    #8
    link to the exact Spigen screen protector please! thanks
     
  9. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #9
  10. Geert76 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    #10
    my bad! sorry about that. But thanks anyway ;)
     
  11. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #11
    [​IMG]

    Note the installation tray on the right, to ensure perfect alignment.
     
  12. tromboneaholic Suspended

    tromboneaholic

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    #12
    Screen real estate is not the only measure.
     
  13. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #13
    No it's not, I agree. I'm just saying it's a more direct comparison, as the XR and XS Max show the same amount of screen info.

    BTW, I've been postulating that in 2019 Apple could introduce a 326 ppi model with the same screen info as the XS. The math tells us it would sport a 5.5" LCD, with a screen resolution of 750x1624. This isn't really an SE replacement, but would be the closest thing to one for those who prefer smaller phones and who don't want to pay for OLED.
     
  14. tromboneaholic Suspended

    tromboneaholic

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    #14
    I believe John Gruber described it as a smaller Max rather than a larger XS.
     
  15. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #15
    Not interested in the XR; perfectly happy with my beautiful XS! Last year the iPhone X finally hit the sweet spot for me between a small phone with hard-to-read text and a larger, more unwieldy and awkward one with easier-to-read screen and so this year it was a no-brainer to go with the XS. This fits nicely into a pocket or into a purse, whichever I choose and I can easily read text on it, no blurriness......
     
  16. kazmac macrumors 604

    kazmac

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    On the silver scream
    #16
    No worries. I understand the XR display be fine for some, but with my vision, I'll probably need another plus. Yeah, it's a shame that Apple did not go with a higher PPI in the XR. I understand that would put a damper on the battery life claims, but still. For the price (which used to be the going rate for + sized phones), it would have been nice had they did that.

    Oh...and by Missues, I meant your wife who will receive this lovely red XR. May she enjoy her new phone. :)

    Thank you for posting this extensive review, especially as an 7+ user. That helped a lot.
     
  17. Broadus, Oct 26, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018

    Broadus macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Location:
    Upstate SC
    #17
    Thanks for the review. What you wrote about a zoomed XR screen being virtually a larger X/XS screen was the primary reason I went with the XR than a X.

    I zoom my 6s display and am fine with the text. I’m not sure I would be on the smaller X without zoom and I still have trouble justifying the XS Max on my budget.
     
  18. doboy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    #18
    All these comments from ppl regarding blurry texts, why don’t you go see for yourself instead of relying on the OP’s experience since your eyesight and tolerance may be different from his.
     
  19. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #20
    Good advice. For the record, I'm of the age where presbyopia has set in, but I still notice the text clarity differences. However, that's partially because I use corrective glasses, with progressive lenses that are specifically designed for use with mobile devices.

    zeiss-digital-lenses.jpg

     
  20. rhinosrcool macrumors 68000

    rhinosrcool

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Location:
    MN
    #21
    From 1/2 hour at the Apple store, I didn't find the text blurry. In fact, it was pretty crisp. My main phone is a Note (Displaymate rated it pretty High). However, I didn't notice that much difference compared to the XR. This phone is excellent and Apple's got a big hit.
     
  21. doboy macrumors 68020

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    Jul 6, 2007
    #22
    I’ll probably need progressives soon :( I don’t really understand what makes those specific progressives different from regular ones. Thanks.
     
  22. jetydosa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    #23
    You guys must have a hell of a lot better eyesight than me. Ive been using my X and XR all day, I cant tell any difference in text sharpness.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #24
    I'm no expert, but the so-called digital lenses are often more appropriate for those who are just starting out with progressives. They have a comparatively large area with an appropriate focus boost for mobile devices.

    Standard progressives generally have different focal boost ranges, and different corridors of the lenses allocated for reading. Many different brands have variations on the theme, but this Zeiss marketing blurb gives you the idea:

    What is the difference between ZEISS Digital Lenses and progressive lenses?

    ZEISS Digital Lenses are lenses that are tailored to the needs of the smartphone, "heads-down" generation. The lenses incorporate ZEISS freeform technology and are optimally adapted to the needs of the digital world.

    When designing these lenses, ZEISS started by analysing digital vision. The result: they are sharply focused on the visual conditions experienced in the uses of smartphones or tablets.

    ZEISS Digital Lenses offer:



      • a shorter reading distance needed for digital devices
      • targeted support of near vision distances of between 0.5 and 1.25 dioptres
      • large, aberration-free distance zone, just as in single vision lenses
      • optimum optical quality for distance vision and for near vision when using digital devices.
    What's the difference between ZEISS Digital Lenses and Office Lenses?

    ZEISS Office Lenses address the needs of the over-fifties who are already encountering their first problems in the intermediate and near ranges – the typical office distances. Unlike ZEISS Digital Lenses, these are lenses that are worn in certain situations and do not meet all the demands made on spectacles intended for everyday wear.


    https://www.zeiss.com/vision-care/i...asked-questions-on-zeiss-digital-lenses-.html


    I don't see any problem on those screens either. The only place I really see it is with the smaller text in stuff like Safari, on certain webpages with certain fonts. Bigger fonts are not a problem, and I'd classify the settings as bigger.

    If I can find the pictures, I'll post the pictures I took of the 8 vs 8 Plus last month, which illustrates what I'm talking about.
     
  24. doboy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    #25
    Thanks for the info!
     

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