Move over Pixel 2, the iPhone XR is better

Mention about a smartphone these days and you’ll find it’s impossible to not talk about the camera. Smartphone makers scramble to squeeze as much from tiny sensors, and also slapping in two, no three, four, five, six lenses on to devices. You see flagship phones like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note9 and Apple iPhone XS pushing the envelope in terms of quality and performance.

iPhones have always been traditionally strong in the camera department, even if Apple doesn’t openly participate or endorse benchmarks like the Android world does. Ultimately, photo and video results are subjective, but benchmarks attempt to objectify results by running “scientific” measurements and tests.

The world’s most trusted independent benchmark authority DxOMark recently took Apple’s 2018 budget entry – the iPhone XR through its paces.

What’s interesting about the iPhone XR is that while it’s the lowest cost in the iPhone line-up, it shares much of its underpinnings with the substantially pricier iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

It features the same powerful and intelligent Apple A12 Bionic chip and runs iOS 12. And while it only sports a single-cam as opposed to the dual-cam setup on the iPhone XS models, it features the same 12MP 1/2.55-inch sensor with 1.4 micron pixel. This is coupled with a 26mm f/1.8 aperture lens with optical image stabilisation, phase-detection autofocus, and dual-tone quad-LED flash.

It shares the same imaging wizardry as its top end siblings – capturing a multi-frame buffer continuously at different exposures, offers zero shutter lag and HDR processing. For the first time ever, Apple has introduced Portrait Mode in a single-cam smartphone with the iPhone XR.

iPhone XR DxOMark
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Potrait Mode on a single-cam? Finally! Credit: DxOMark

In terms of video, the iPhone XR supports up to 4K video @ 60fps.

DxOMark found the iPhone XR offers “a very similar proposition for image quality as the flagship iPhone XS Max” across key photo attributes like exposure, colour, detail, noise and artifacts.

While it loses out to the iPhone XS models in zoom and bokeh shots due to the lack of dual cameras, the iPhone XR scores similar results in video.

Apple iPhone XR DxOMark
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Credit: DxOMark

“Compared to the Google Pixel 2, which is the best single-cam smartphone we’d tested up until now, the results are very comparable in many areas, but thanks to improved results for noise and particularly for artifacts, the iPhone XR just nudges it out of first place to become our top-ranked single-cam smartphone.”

In the photo sub-category, the iPhone XR scored a high 103 points, while in video a commendable 96 points. Overall, it scored 101 points, making it the best single-cam smartphone DxOMark has ever tested. It’s even better than last year’s iPhone X. Up till now it was the single-cam Google Pixel 2 that ruled the roost.

Even Apple’s Phil Schiller approves.

For scoring and analysis in its smartphone camera reviews, DxOMark engineers capture and evaluate over 1,500 test images and more than two hours of video in both controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings.

Check out the full iPhone XR DxOMark review here.

By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.