iPhone XR, 1 year in as it is made obsolete by the iPhone SE2

I bought the phone Marques Brownlee said not to panic about, Nilay Patel said was better than good enough, and that Sara Dietschy said was a solid upgrade. Of course, that was way back in November 2018, and nobody’s said a word about the XR since then. I got my XR in March 2019, just a few months later, and I’ve had it a year.

I’d like it to last at least two more years. Is that possible? It hasn’t been possible yet. I’ve yet to actually keep a phone longer than 20 months. I’d really like to break that streak. And I think the iPhone XR is the one to do it, for reasons I’ll get into below.

Battery Life

It lasts all day. It’s never died. It’s probably got the best battery life in any phone I’ve owned. I’ve never been out with it at less than 10% except for that one time I didn’t charge it for 36 hours and then went out not realizing it was at, like, 25%. It didn’t die that night.

It’s been a year, so I’d assume the battery would have degraded a bit, right? The maximum capacity is at 98%. With my last phone, the iPhone SE, the capacity was at 90% after a year. After 15 months, I bought a fresh battery for it. I don’t think I’m going to need to do that this time.

This has been my advice for people with slow phones: get a new battery. They’re not that expensive, and that $100 (give or take) will almost definitely give your phone another year or so of use.

Speed, Power, and Longterm Support

If you don’t think your phone is fast, you’re just used to it. Fish out an old phone you have in a drawer. Charge it up and try to do anything. You’ll wonder how you lived in 2013. It’s a little annoying how quickly we adapt and think that what we do is just normal”.

The iPhone XR is super fast. 18 months after its debut, it’s only one notch below most powerful phone ever,” and that isn’t by a wide margin.

The best argument for buying iPhones is the long-term support. iOS13, Apple’s 2019 iPhone OS, supports phones going back to 2015 (the 6S). If things stay the same, the 2020 OS will support phones from 2016 (the 7). If we figure that stays the same for the XR (2018), it should continue to get new OS updates until 2022 (or iOS 16).

Screen Quality

The XR, just like the newer 11, has a 720p screen that you won’t notice and is fine. The iPhones Pro are better and they look better and they should, because they’re OLED instead of LCD and they cost a lot more. But the XR is fine and I never think about the screen not being good.

The Camera

It’s fine. It takes good pictures and great video. I’ve never loved the photos I take with my iPhone, and the XR didn’t change that.


Cases are like helmets. They’re only built to survive so much abuse. If it survives one good drop, be thankful.

My iPhone XR has had 3 cases so far. Two are still with me.

The iPhone 11 cases fit the XR just fine, so when they came out with silicone cases, I picked one up. I got it in white. It died on New Years after a drop. The entire bottom bit of the case was damaged, but the phone was fine. It did its job.

Most recently, I bought Apple’s clear case. Even though they make an XR version, the store only had the 11 model. It’s fine. The phones are the same size.

My favourite case for it is Moment’s walnut case. It was expensive but it’s sturdy as hell. And it doesn’t actually have to be as sturdy as it is, because it’s one of the few cases that has built-in wrist-strap support (the strap they sell is also nice).

I’ve had the clear case on my phone most of this pandemic, because I haven’t been out as much. But on days I go out on the bike, I swap in the Moment case.


Hey, you. This is a good phone. If you can make it last to 2022, I’ll be pretty proud of you. Take good care of it, and it’ll take good care of you.

April 15, 2020