Apple diversified its phone line-up with three new releases in autumn 2018, including the highly popular iPhone XR. It’s a big, new and powerful Apple phone, and therefore not a cheap option – but thanks to a couple of compromises the price is far more affordable than the XS and XS Max handsets that came out at the same time.
Back in November Apple said the XR was the firm’s most popular phone “each and every day since the day it became available”, and fans are eagerly looking ahead to the next generation. Will Apple release an XR 2 in 2019, and when exactly should we expect it to launch? What design changes and tech specs will be featured, and how much will the new XR cost?
In this article we round up the clues, leaks and speculation surrounding the new iPhone XR for 2019, and offer our thoughts on the handset’s likely release date, price and tech specs. For advice on the present generation, read our Best iPhone buying guide and our roundup of the Best iPhone deals.
When will the new iPhone XR be released? The most likely answer is the simplest: the XR 2 will probably be announced in September 2019, a year after the original model, and appear in shops later in Sept or in Oct.
Apple’s phone release schedule tends to be predictable: there are new handsets every autumn, as regular as clockwork. Usually this means September, although sometimes (including the XR) a handset will be announced in September but won’t become available until a month or two later.
The last time Apple dropped an iPhone outside autumn was the iPhone SE in March 2016. We don’t expect an updated XR by spring 2019, but it’s possible we will have to wait until spring 2020 with the XR dropping into the SE’s release slot – they are somewhat similar devices, after all, with both aimed at a slightly more ‘budget’ audience by Apple’s pricey standards. The question is whether the company will ever return to the small-handset market; our iPhone SE 2 rumour roundup acknowledges the serious possibility that it may not, despite the legions of smaller-handed users crying out for representation.
The current iPhone XR (2018) starts at £749/$749 with 64GB of storage. This rises to £799/$799 for 128GB and £899/$899 for 256GB.
We’d expect Apple to pitch the next-gen version at about the same price point, since much of the device’s popularity stems from costing significantly less than the iPhone XS while sharing most of that phone’s specs and features.
However, the progress (or otherwise) of the Brexit process, and its effect on currency exchange rates, may impact on the UK pricing. If things go badly in 2019, politically speaking, as some experts fear they may, the value of the pound is likely to fall further and the cost of imported products will go up.
Specs & new features
The (apparently very successful) formula in 2018 was to take the flagship iPhone spec, then make a couple of key compromises to keep the price down while maintaining largely the same overall package.
For the original iPhone XR that meant keeping most elements of the iPhone XS, but replacing the state-of-the-art 5.8in OLED screen with a more basic 6.1in LCD panel – yes, that’s a larger screen, but OLED offers blacker blacks and overall far superior colour reproduction – and dropping from a dual- to a single-lens camera on the rear.
These two major alterations (along with some smaller tweaks such as slightly larger bezels and a thicker body) meant a saving of £250/$250 on the starting config compared to the base XS.
Flagship vs compromises
When predicting the XR 2’s spec, then, we must think first about where Apple will go with its flagship line – what spec will it offer for the XS 2019? And if the XS moves on in key areas, the new XR may catch up in one or both of the areas where it compromised last year.
The XR for 2019 may get an OLED screen, for example – but the only way this will be feasible is if costs for this component have come down, and if Apple has something else up its sleeve to set the new XS apart. A foldable display, say…
Similarly, we have high hopes that the next version of the iPhone XR will get twin-lens rear-facing cameras and the ability to take Portrait Mode photos of non-human objects. (The XR offers a Portrait Mode blurred-background effect through software rather than glassware, but this only works when it detects a human face. So pet portraits are out.) But for this to happen, the XS would need something new to set it apart – such as a 3D sensor, as Bloomberg is currently predicting.
Beyond this, expect an A13 processor chip offering moderate speed boosts over the current A12 Bionic, the option for half a terabyte of storage as the iPhone XS currently offers, and preinstalled iOS 13.