In our latest YouTube video, we compared the cameras of the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS Max to see how much of a difference you're really going to see with the single lens camera vs. the dual-lens camera.
Though the iPhone XR does not have two lenses to work with, it still has many of the same features that are available in the iPhone XS, enabled through a bit of software magic.
Smart HDR, the feature that combines multiple images to bring out more detail in the shadows and highlights of photographs, is available on both the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, as are Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, and Depth Control, which is an option that lets you adjust the amount of background blur in an image.
On the iPhone XR, Portrait Mode, which blurs the background of an image while keeping the foreground sharp, only works when a person is in the frame. That means you can not get Portrait Mode shots of pets, flowers, food, or other objects.
You can do non-person Portrait Mode photos on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max because two cameras are used together to calculate depth information. The single camera on the iPhone XR provides less detailed information for photographs, so it needs to be used to detect the foreground from the background.
On the plus side, because the iPhone XR exclusively uses the f / 1.8 wide-angle lens for Portrait Mode photos and does not need to rely on the smaller aperture f / 2.4 telephoto lens that's in the iPhone XS, Portrait Mode images taken in low light turn out better than Portrait Mode photos on the XS because the larger lens lets in more ambient light.
With Portrait Mode photos, the iPhone XR struggles a bit with edge detection and the images can be softer than those captured with the iPhone XS due to the lack of a telephoto lens and less depth information to work with. Portrait Mode photos on both devices can be edited with different Depth Control and Portrait Lighting features, if there are two less Portrait Lighting options on the XR.
When taking standard non-Portrait Mode photos, there are few differences between the iPhone XS models and the iPhone XR because the two smartphones are both using the same f / 1.8 wide-angle lens. Images taken in standard zoom mode, for example, look the same.
You will, however, see some differences using the iPhone XS telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom in conditions where lighting is good, because this feature is not available on the iPhone XR. With no second lens, the iPhone XR ls limited to digital zoom that maxes out at 5x. The iPhone XS can do 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom, but it's only going to be using the optical zoom in ideal lighting conditions.
If you take a 2x photo in a low lighting situation on the iPhone XS, there's a good chance it will look identical to the same photo taken on the iPhone XR because the iPhone XS defaults to digital zoom over optical zoom when the wider lens will produce a better picture. If you take a 2x photo with bright lighting on the iPhone XS, it's going to be sharper than the same 2x photo on the iPhone XR because of the difference between true optical zoom and digital zoom.
4K video using the wide-angle lens looks identical on both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR, and both phones feature the same video capabilities like 1080p 240fps slo-mo, optical image stabilization, and stereo sound recording. You are, however, limited to 3x digital zoom on the iPhone XR vs. 2x optical zoom or 6x digital zoom on the iPhone XS.
When it comes to the front-facing camera, you will not see differences between the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS models for all three of the smartphones use the same TrueDepth camera system with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera and full support for Portrait Mode images, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, Memoji, and Animoji.
All in all, when it comes to camera performance, unless you're someone who takes a lot of Portrait Mode photos or often uses the optical zoom feature on the iPhone, you may not notice much of a difference if you choose the iPhone XR over the iPhone XS.
To get a clearer look at the camera quality of the iPhone XR compared to the iPhone XS Max, make sure to check out our Imgur album, which features full-resolution versions of the photographs that we shared in this article and in the video above.
What do you think of the iPhone XR camera? Do you prefer the iPhone XS camera? Let us know your thoughts on the comparison images in the comments.