Should you buy the iPhone XR in 2020? Let's dive in.
How Much Longer Will it Last?
First, let's talk about the age of the phone and how that should factor into your iPhone XR purchasing decision. The iPhone XR was released 22 months ago in September of 2018. If this was an Android device, buying an almost 2 year old phone may be some cause for concern, but Apple has provided 5+ years of software support for their devices since the iPhone 4s in 2011, which is much longer than the 2-3 years you can usually expect when on an Android device.
If you're considering the iPhone XR, you may be worried that the phone will either start to slow down or have battery issues as the phone gets older and new iOS updates come out, and that's a totally valid concern especially after Apple "got caught" slowing down older devices without telling anyone. Apple does down-clock the chips in older phones as they age in order to help extend battery life, however, you can opt to keep your chip speed at its normal speed in the device settings.
So any time you are purchasing a device that has been released for a longer peiod of time, you want to make sure the device has a battery that is equipped to handle the strain newer OS updates will put on them.
Conveniently for iPhone XR owners, the iPhone XR has the best battery life of any iPhone of its generation. It's battery is 11% larger than that of the iPhone XS, and it's lower resolution screen requires less resources to power, giving it yet another battery life advantage over its flagship counterpart. If for whatever reason you do run into battery life issues down the road, Apple will replace the battery for a fairly reasonable $69 fee.
So the iPhone XR's battery life won't be an issue, but is the iPhone XR powerful enough to use for several more years? Absolutely. The iPhone XR uses the A12 bionic chip, the same chip the iPhone XS uses, which is only 1 generation behind the latest A13 chip that the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro use. What's more interesting is that newer A13 Bionic chips in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro only improved speed and performance by about 5% over the A12 chip that the iPhone XR uses. Most of the processor improvements in the A13 chip came in the form of efficiency and lower energy consumption, which will mainly affect battery life, which we already know should not be a big issue with the iPhone XR.
When it comes to other specs, the iPhone XR is a completely adequate iPhone for the vast majority of users. The size, design, and build quality are all quite nice. The measures 6.1 inches diagonally and the aluminim frame and glass back feel great.
The display, as many have mentioned, is not amazing compared to flagship displays, especially on paper, but it looks completely fine in person, and, when it comes to smaller screens, most people can't tell the difference between lower and higher resolutions unless the difference is extreme. Also, as I already mentioned, the lower display resolution has battery benefits.
The iPhone XR has the same 12 mega-pixel wide angle main camera unit at the iPhone XS and is going to take photos and videos that are just as good if not better than any other budget-level smartphone aside from perhaps the Google Pixel 3a, and even then the difference isn't that big.
As I mentioned, Apple provides iOS updates for 5 plus years, so you can reasonably expect the XR to be updated through iOS 16 or 17. Obviously, with the iPhone XR you get access to all the beloved iOS only features such as iMessage, Airdrop, ApplePay, and FaceTime.
The iPhone XR is also compatible with wireless charging, which is super convenient for keeping your battery topped up when sitting at your desk.
iPhone XR in 2020: Price
This is all great stuff to know about the phone, but it's all irrelevant if the price isn't right, so let's talk money. The iPhone XR was originally launched at a price point of $749 for the 64GB variant in late 2018 and was discounted by $150 down to $599 in late 2019 when the iPhone 11 was launched.
Price: New vs Used
The iPhone XR has held onto its value very well on the used market, even for an iPhone. The XR has depreciated at approximately $13, or 1.7% per month since launch which is considerably lower than the average $18 and 2.0% monthly depreciation of iPhones in general. As of Mid July, 2020, the average price for a used iPhone XR 64GB is $464, about $135 cheaper than the brand new price on Apple's website, but you can expect to pay a bit more than that if you want a used one in really excellent condition.
At the end of the day, whether you buy used or new is ultimately a personal choice, though given that Apple has discounted the iPhone XR by $150, I would lean towards buying one brand new directly from Apple. Normally, I am a big advocate of buying used smartphones becuase of the money it saves, but with the iPhone XR's slow depreciation rate, buying brand new is a safer bet. That being said, you may be able to save $50 or so on a used, mint condition one on Swappa.
So is the iPhone XR still a good buy in 2020? Definitely. It's current prices, both used and new, are reasonable for its value, and, if you buy an iPhone XR in 2020, based on it's processor, battery, and Apple's iOS support timeline, you can reasonably expect to get a solid 3 plus years of use out of it before needing an upgrade.
Between taking advantage of wireless charging all day long and potentially getting a battery replacement down the road, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if there are some people still happily using their iPhone XRs in 2024 or even 2025.