How good is the iPhone XR camera?

The iPhone XR is one of the most affordable models in Apple's X Series line-up. Does that also mean it takes lower-quality photos and videos to meet its low price? Not at all. Here we look at the capabilities of the iPhone XR’s camera – or rather cameras, plural.

How good is the iPhone XR rear camera?

The iPhone XR has a rear camera that, combined with Apple's efficient-as-always software processing, takes pictures and videos with truly "professional" image quality. 

Although its 12 MP may seem meagre compared to those of other brands, the truth is that higher MP doesn’t always mean better photos. In fact, it can be preferable to have a more modest resolution so that your file sizes aren’t massive, thus allowing you to save storage. 

The iPhone XR has a fast rear lens, boasting a f/1.8 aperture that can capture a great amount of light. This results in sharp images with little noise and better background separation from your subjects.

The main disadvantage of the iPhone XR camera is that it only has one lens: a wide-angle lens. Therefore, it lacks the ultra-wide-angle lens that models like the iPhone X or iPhone XS additionally include.

Here are the iPhone XR's key camera specs so you can see them at a glance:

  • 12MP wide-angle camera 

  • f/1.8 aperture

  • x5 digital zoom

  • Optical image stabilisation

  • Portrait mode with enhanced bokeh mode

  • Smart HDR

Find all the iPhone XR technical specifications in our article, Why a Refurbished iPhone XR is affordable superior functionality

How good is the front camera on the iPhone XR?

The front-facing camera has always been a big deal on iPhones, and it also pioneered high-quality video calls on mobile phones via FaceTime. The iPhone XR thus gets the attention it deserves. Its front camera is a classic TrueDepth camera, similar to the iPhone XS, though slightly inferior to later models like the iPhone 11.

It takes 7 MP images, and its aperture is f/2.2. So it's a little less "powerful" than the rear camera, but it’s definitely pleasant enough for selfies and video calls. In fact, it also includes portrait mode that gives pictures and videos a bokeh effect. Portrait mode can use six types of lighting effects, including contour light or studio light.

👉Reading tip: iPhone X vs iPhone XR

What kind of videos can the iPhone XR camera shoot?

One of the advantages of the iPhone XR's camera system is that it not only takes "professional" photos, but also shoots cinematic videos. Here’s a run down of its two cameras:

 ⚫ Rear video camera: the camera on the back is the main one you’ll use, and it has a wide range of recording capabilities. It can record at up to 4K 60 fps, allowing you to shoot in slow-motion at the highest quality. You can also set the resolution to HD (1080p), an option that additionally allows you to shoot in "super slow motion" mode at 120 and 240 fps.

It also records time-lapse videos with stabilisation: The digital zoom remains at x3, which is 2x less than when used as a still camera.

⚫ Front video camera: the video quality on the front is also very respectable. It can shoot video in HD resolution (1080p) at up to 60 fps, which offers the possibility to take creative selfie-mode recordings.

Does the camera work the same on a refurbished iPhone XR?

You won’t notice any functional difference when you use a refurbished iPhone XR compared to a new iPhone XR.  Although a refurbished iPhone XR implies that it already had another owner, this has no influence on the functionality of the camera. 

🩺 In fact, all smartphones sold on Back Market undergo a thorough technical test for refurbishing, especially iPhones. This test checks 25 key components on a refurbished device: the battery, the microphone, the screen, – and of course – the camera. If any faults are found, they are repaired or replaced. Therefore, your device is guaranteed to work as if you ordered it new.

Our conclusion on the iPhone XR camera

If you want to switch to a newer iPhone model just to get a better camera. . . well, you don't really have to get a brand new device. Instead, you should opt for a refurbished iPhone XR. If you have an older device, it’ll likely be a significant camera upgrade. 

Refurbished devices are also much cheaper. The iPhone XR price is based on the aesthetic condition of the device in question. On Back Market, you will always find this to the right of the device you are interested in. For example, if you don't mind small scratches, you can choose the condition "Good" and save more.

Plus it’ll be the most sustainable choice too! Buying second hand