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iPhone XR v iPhone 11: What’s the difference? Your buyer’s guide

The iPhone 11 is the newer model - but is it the better one?

Published: Thursday, 1st April 2021 at 12:45 pm

Apple's annual release schedule means we have many iPhones on the market at the same time - which can make it awfully confusing as to which iPhone is which - especially with the new phones 2021 will have to offer.

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It doesn't help that Apple briefly broke their number system - but the iPhone XR is in fact the predecessor to the iPhone 11. It may no longer be the new kid on the block with the iPhone 12 now out, but that does mean that the iPhone 11 will now cost slightly less - with the iPhone XR likely to get an even more dramatic price drop.

But is the iPhone XR still worth getting even with a discount, or are the additions to the iPhone 11 just too good?

There are arguments for both sides – and with both mobiles offering multiple models, it can often get confusing figuring out the exact difference between both generations.

We’ll highlight the key differences below, along with advice based on budget, features, and day-to-day use so you can make an informed decision before you go ahead and purchase. And for our experts' verdict on another phone from the 11 range, check out our iPhone 11 Pro review. Plus, if you're keener to get the current flagship, there's also our iPhone 12 review and iPhone 12 Pro review. And no problem if you're not sure which generation to opt for: you can consult our iPhone 11 vs 12 explainer.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11

Design

iPhone 11 front and back

iPhone 11

Unlike the radical redesign of the iPhone 12, the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 have an almost identical design - the dimensions are exactly the same, with an almost edge-to-edge screen and a notch at the top for the cameras.

The main difference in the design seems to be the water resistance, as the iPhone 11 can survive up to two metres underwater as opposed to one metre for the iPhone XR.

Price

The iPhone XR starts at £499 for the 64GB version. The iPhone 11 starts at £599 for the 64GB edition, and goes up to £1,044 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Storage

The iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are available in 64GB and 128GB, but the iPhone 11 range is also available in 256GB and 512GB for the Pro models.

Camera

The iPhone 12 has a single 12MP wide camera, something of a rarity these days. The iPhone 11 is slightly more up to speed with a second 12MP ultra-wide lens, and the Pro and Pro Max models add a third telephoto lens.

Processor

Both iPhones use Apple's own processors - the iPhone XR uses the A12 Bionic Chip, whereas the iPhone 11 uses the A13 chipset. Unsurprisingly, the A13 Bionic Chip is the faster of the two, offering not only a 20 per cent increase in performance but also greater power efficiency - benefitting battery life as well.

Screen Size

The iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are handily both 6.1 inches, so you can get a decent screen size either way. The iPhone 11 Pro, however, is slightly smaller at 5.8 inches, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max is a larger 6.5 inches.

5G support

Neither the XR nor the 11 support 5G connectivity - Apple wouldn't embrace the high-speed data network until the iPhone 12 and it expected to stay in all future models too - well until 6G comes along?

Connectivity

As with all iPhones released since 2012, the XR and 11 both use lightning chargers. They also both support Qi wireless charging.

Colours

Apple iPhone XR Apple - Black Friday

Apple iPhone XR Apple

The iPhone XR is available in six colours: black, blue, red, white, coral and yellow.

The iPhone 11 is available in six (different) colours: black, green, yellow, purple, white, (product) red. The Pro models, however, were only available in Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Midnight Green.

Key differences

  • Faster processor: the iPhone 11's A12 chip improves performance by 20 per cent
  • Bigger storage options: The iPhone 11 adds 256GB and 512GB storage options
  • Better camera: The iPhone 11 adds an extra ultra-wide lens (and a telephoto on the Pro models)

Should I buy the iPhone XR or the iPhone 11?

The differences between the two are relatively small - unless you're a keen photographer or an avid memory hoarder, there's few must-have features on the iPhone 11. While the iPhone 11 would be a great purchase if you could get a good contract phone deal, it's up to personal opinion whether more camera lenses and a slightly speedier processor justifies a £100 price increase.

The iPhone XR is available to buy now:

The iPhone 11 is also available to buy now, or you can see our best iPhone 11 deals:

iPhone 11 64GB, £35 per month (£0 upfront)

This deal covers the 64GB device with zero upfront cost and a charge of £35 per month, with which you get 100GB data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts on Three. A one-year Apple TV+ subscription is also included.

Get the deal

iPhone 11 Pro 64GB, £51 per month (£0 upfront)

This is a fair monthly price on the standard memory device with a 24-month contract. There’s no upfront price at all, and you’ll get 100GB of data, unlimited texts and minutes included.

Get the deal

iPhone 11 Pro Max 64GB, £79 per month (£0 upfront)

For the larger screen version of the Pro Max, you’ll be looking at a higher monthly cost (24-month contract) but you can still get hold of a device without any upfront payment and you’ll get unlimited texts and minutes, 40GB of data, plus Apple TV.

Get the deal

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Looking for this year's model? All four iPhone 13 models are now available to buy. 

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