Is it worth upgrading to the iPhone XR if you already have an iPhone 8, and does the existence of the iPhone XR make the iPhone 8 a bad buy?
The iPhone 8 and iPhone XR occupy the same essential space in Apple's yearly iPhone line-ups as the "entry-level" model for their respective years. Remember, folks, that Apple really doesn't like the word "cheap" in any way, shape or form.
The Apple iPhone 8 rather solidly belongs to an older generation of iOS devices, and especially the lower-end, given its single-lens camera, the inclusion of the TouchID sensor and rather thick bezels.
That's not quite the story that Apple wants to tell with the Apple iPhone XR, which features no real bezels and no TouchID. You're still staring down the lens of a single camera, though, because Apple wants to differentiate the iPhone XR from the higher-priced Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
The common factor between the Apple iPhone XR and the Apple iPhone 8 is the use of LCD screens, rather than the slightly fancier OLED displays you'll find on the Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and indeed, 2017's Apple iPhone X. LCD is an older technology with typically less vibrant colour than OLED, although Apple has been more precise with colour balancing on its LCD panels than many manufacturers in the past. The iPhone XR's 6.1-inch LCD is rather larger than the simple 4.5-inch panel on the iPhone 8.
The Apple iPhone XR shares the Apple A12 Fusion with the pricier iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, which should give it some serious grunt. If Apple follows the path it has done in years past, expect the iPhone XR to be packing less RAM than the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max.
That's certainly the story for the Apple iPhone 8, which shares the same A11 Fusion processor as its compatriots, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and the now-discontinued Apple iPhone X.
Apple's claim is that the A12 Fusion is up to 50% faster than the A11 Fusion, but that's already quite a speedy processor in itself. You certainly shouldn't see much lag out of the Apple iPhone 8, although you would miss out on the Apple iPhone XR's Gigabit LTE compatibility.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone XR both share a single rear camera, where the fancier models have dual lenses to help justify their stiff price points. The big differentiator you're likely to use most on the iPhone XR is the ability to engage portrait mode without a secondary lens. Apple's gone down a path trodden by phones such as the Google Pixel 2, using a single lens and some AI smarts to create an artificial depth of field effect in portrait mode photos.
While the iPhone X is discontinued, Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 8 (as well as the dual-camera toting iPhone 8 Plus) alongside the iPhone XR. Indeed, you'll be waiting on the iPhone XR a little, with Apple not starting pre-sales for its LCD iPhone until 19 October with availability from 26 October. For the entry-level 64GB iPhone XR, you're looking at $1,229 outright, while the higher storage 128GB model will command a $1,299 price and the top end 256GB model will cost $1,479.
The iPhone 8 is available now with pricing at $979 for a 64GB model and $1,229 for a 256GB model.
Apple tries to make it as enticing as possible to upgrade each and every year, because it's good for Apple's bottom line, but unless you own Apple shares, that's not much of a reason to upgrade "just because".
If you do own your iPhone 8 outright, it's arguably wise to hold off for a year and opt for the iPhone XR's successor, getting two full years out of your purchase. If you feel that you must upgrade, you should use your iPhone 8 to shave a chunk off the iPhone XR's asking price. We've assembled a guide to the different ways to make the most out of your iPhone 8 when selling it right here.
We won't see iPhone XR contract plan pricing for some time, but here's what you'll pay for an iPhone 8 on contract right now: