A number of you may remember that I had my iPhone 6S Plus stolen off my desk two weeks ago. I never found it, and Find My iPhone says it never reconnected to the net. I sent a remote erase code anyway.
So, I went off to the Apple Store to buy this new iPhone XR. I’ll give you my slightly more than first impressions review.
The XR comes in several color choices. I got it in the blue version. The trend in Apple’s line is toward ever thinner devices, and this follows the script. The thing is a little bit difficult to hold and type on when naked. I found it works best if I do a two-handed cradle for thumb typing. On the other hand, it’s easy enough to hold in one hand and swipe. The glass back feels solid, and the whole instrument feels substantial for all its thinness. The phone is finally rated as waterproof! I’ve been waiting for that. It’s one area where Apple was playing catch up.
You peer into the looking glass through a “Super Retina” LCD screen that looks fabulous. A word of warning: if you think you’re going to buy an XR and can’t afford the $350 more an XS will cost, do not look at them side by side like I did. The whitest whites and deep blacks of the OLED screen on the XS will make the XR LCD screen look bluish and dim by comparison. Don’t torture yourself. Trust me.
The back camera is a nice 12 MP unit that is a raised disk off the other wise sleek surface of the back. It takes good pics in all light. This model doesn’t come with the extra camera of the XS for telephoto shots but it’s perfectly good for anything I’ll need. The one in the notch of the screen is also perfectly good for selfies or FaceTime/Skype. I’ll never wish I had a dedicated camera again.
The show is run by Apple’s A12 “bionic” chip (another stupid marketing term, but that’s the age we live in). Everything is super quick and responsive. I read the XR had 3 GB of RAM to the XS’s 4. I don’t know that I’d ever notice a difference.
This was my first encounter with Face ID instead of Touch ID. I never got along well with Touch ID because the home button wouldn’t recognize my prints if my hand was too cold, just got out of the shower, etc. It worked great for my girls, but unreliably for me. Face ID, on the other hand, has worked flawlessly for me from minute one. All I have to do is glance at the screen, mostly directly on, but I don’t have to position my head carefully, and it unlocks. Then I swipe up. It won’t recognize my wife’s face, so it’s working. Face ID also unlocks my password keychain. No typing in passwords in most cases. I haven’t used it for Apple Pay yet, but I’m thinking about it.
There is no more home button. You swipe from different corners to bring up apps or the control panel. I can do it with one hand. I’ve adapted easily and don’t miss the button.
Another feature that is gone is force touch, where you could press harder and activate nested folders or menus, like a right click. I miss it for the couple of things I used it for. It’s replaced with haptic touch, which is just a vibration when you press and hold.
This is also my first encounter with Qi standard wireless charging, which phones since the 7 have been able to do. I bought a well-rated cheap set of two charging pads from Amazon and put one on my end table. I am loving not having to fumble with the cord and plug in the dark and pull the cable out of the wall all the time. It’s a little thing, but it brings me joy.
The store was able to give me a new micro SIM card and get it programmed with my old phone number from my stolen phone. I restored my phone from my backup on the home computer and all my apps self-downloaded. Then, all I had to do was update some email account settings and I was off and running. Couldn’t have asked for an easier transition.
I got myself a tempered glass screen protector, because sooner or later I will find a way to scratch it. I also picked up a Spigen Tough Armor case for only $18. It even has a kick stand so I can use it for recipes and such hands free. It’s slim but just substantial enough to make the phone feel less slippery in my hand. Also, it matches the blue of the phone.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. I’m not going to compare or contrast to Android phones, because I don’t spend any time with them, but if you want Apple or are open to an Apple product, I think this is your best value. You get the same processor as the XS but for hundreds less, and the trade offs are of negligible significance in my view. The new iPhone 11 replaces the XR, and it has some nice feature upgrades of its own, but it’s going to be $100 more expensive. I think I might still get this one anyway.
Oh, that title wasn’t completely click bait. I bought the phone at the Apple Store 14 days ago for $800. Just after Apple announced its new phones yesterday, the XR price dropped $150 on their website. Apple’s return for full refund policy is in effect for 14 days after purchase. So, this morning I took my phone down to the Apple Store and told them I was there to shamelessly take advantage of Apple. They cheerfully said step right up and helped me to return and then rebuy my phone for $150 cheaper. They didn’t even ask me to take it out of the case. Through the years, Apple has always given me a courteous and helpful buying and support experience, sometimes bending the rules to help me out. That’s worth a bit of loyalty to me.
Questions? Comments? The complaint box is below.