When Apple announced that there would be not one, not two, but three all-new iPhones this year it caused quite a stir. The iPhone XS Max is the big outlier, with a massive 6.5-inch screen that makes the phone a bit too much for most people, but the iPhone XS and XR are so similar on the outside, how could you ever possibly choose? I’ll help.


Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XR are powered by Apple’s all-new A12 Bionic chip, which means they’re both very fast. Both have the latest Bluetooth compatibility and both phones run iOS 12 right out of the box. So, it’s a draw, right? Not so fast.

The iPhone XR’s only shortcoming is that it comes with 3GB of RAM compared to the 4GB in the iPhone XS. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s enough to tip the scales in favor of the iPhone XS.

Winner: iPhone XS


A big beautiful phone needs a big beautiful display and both the XS and XR dedicated nearly the entire front of the device to the screen. The iPhone XS measures 5.8 inches, but the iPhone XR squeezes a tiny bit more screen real estate into an overall larger body. At 6.1 inches, the iPhone XR’s display is noticeably bigger. That doesn’t mean it’s a better display — we’ll get to that in a minute — but if you want a slightly larger screen and don’t want to jump all the way to the XS Max, the XR might lure you in.

Winner: iPhone XR


Both the XS and XR are well-built phones, but the XS does kick the quality bar up quite a bit farther than its cheaper brother. Despite being smaller, the iPhone XS’s 5.8-inch display is higher resolution and fully OLED, while the XR’s larger screen is a lower resolution and uses LCD technology. OLED is always going to win out in a head-to-head with LCD, with more vibrant colors and better contrast, and the higher resolution is icing on the cake.

The body of the iPhone XS is made of stainless steel, while the XR is built of high-strength aluminum. The XS has a much more premium feel and will be overall stronger in the long run.

Winner: iPhone XS


Of all the differences between the iPhone XS and XR, the camera is where things really start to separate. The iPhone XS has dual 12MP rear facing lenses for the best possible picture quality. The dual lenses have all kinds of neat tricks like Portrait Mode that the XR’s single rear lens can’t pull off. If you do a lot of photography with your iPhone, the XS is really the way to go.

Winner: iPhone XS


Okay, so the iPhone XS has all the bells and whistles while the XR has a bell here and half a whistle there. They’re not a bad duo, but you do pay a serious premium for the privilege of putting an iPhone XS in yoru pocket. The iPhone XS will set you back $1,000 at minimum, while the XR can be had for a much more reasonable $750.

Winner: iPhone XR


Here’s the thing: There IS no overall winner here. These two iPhones exist for two different reasons, so which one is right for you specifically will vary from person to person. They’re both great devices, but if you want power and top-of-the-line specs you should get the XS, while budget-minded iPhone fans that don’t use their iPhones for everything can opt for the cheaper XR.