Apple iPhone XR vs Samsung Galaxy S10: the battle of the affordable flagships
iPhone XR vs Galaxy S10: which is better?
Both Apple and Samsung offer more affordable flagship phones – boasting premium features at a far more attractive price. And as new phones are announced, and with the iPhone 12 on the way, existing phones naturally get that little more affordable.
Samsung offers a similar budget flagship – the Galaxy S10, which sits just below the larger Galaxy S10+. It might be smaller and cheaper, but this feature-packed phone offers smart design, fast interface and an impressive array of cameras.
How does the iPhone XR fare against the Galaxy S10? Find out in our comparison.
Samsung Galaxy S10 v iPhone XR: which is better?
Design-wise, the iPhone XR has a chunkier bezel framing its display. And it’s safe to say that large notch around the front-facing camera isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The Galaxy S10 looks much sleeker, sporting minimal bezels and a small camera hole set into the edge-to-edge display.
The iPhone XR is available in more colors than the Galaxy S10 but the latter looks better despite its limited color options. The Galaxy S10 also comes with a higher IP68 certification when compared to the iPhone XR’s IP67 certification. The warranty of both phones does not include water damage though.
Both devices are hewn from an attractive mix of glass and aluminium and deliver headline-grabbing features. There are some key differences to watch out for, though.
When it comes to user interfaces, both Apple iOS 13 and Samsung One UI are intuitive to use and offer plenty of streaming apps and connectivity options.
Samsung’s One UI is much improved (though there’s still some bloatware) and can be customised to your heart’s content. Apple’s iOS 13 features faster Face ID unlocking, Dark Mode and a new Photos app.
The iPhone XR has a 6.1in LCD display – the largest LCD ever fitted to an iPhone – but its resolution is significantly lower than the Samsung’s Galaxy’s AMOLED screen.
One the upside, the iPhone XR’s Liquid Retina HD Display features Apple’s True Tone tech, which uses a light sensor to adjust the white balance to match the colour temperature around you. This makes it easier on your eyes – especially in darker environments.
The Samsung Galaxy S10’s 6.1in AMOLED panel offers a higher resolution (1440 x 3040 pixels vs the iPhone XR’s 1,792×828 pixels). And, being an AMOLED, boasts better contrast, viewing angles and colour reproduction.
The S10 is also one of the first phones to feature HDR10+-certified screens for ultimate 4K HDR picture performance. How much difference that makes on a 6.1in screen is debatable, but there’s no doubt that the S10’s screen looks gloriously vivid.
Under the hood of the iPhone XR, you’ll find the same Apple’s A12 Bionic chip used by it’s pricier siblings, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. It makes short work of skipping through iOS. Scrolling and navigating between menus is seamless, with apps speedy to open and respond to swipes.
Thanks to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor chip, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 is also lightning-quick, with no lag when flicking between apps or when moving around the screen. Swipe movements are instinctive, with only the occasional wobble.
That said, there’s no doubt that Apple’s A12 Bionic chip has a slight edge when it comes to raw power – meaning the XR has more appeal for gamers.
Samsung Galaxy S10 v iPhone XR: which is better?
This isn’t really a fair fight. The iPhone XR has one 12MP camera with f/1.8 aperture, 1.4um pixel pitch, OIS, Smart HDR, Focus Pixels, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh
Galaxy S10 – Triple-camera setup, primary 12MP camera with variable f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture, 1.4um pitch pixel, OIS; Secondary 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle shooter; Third 12MP f/2.4 telephoto sensor with OIS, 2x optical zoom, Auto HDR, Super Speed Dual Pixel, Live Focus with adjustable bokeh effect.
Still, the iPhone XR’s solitary rear lens offers 5x digital zoom, Portrait mode, TrueTone flash and use of Apple’s Smart HDR feature. Pictures look clear and sharp with balanced colours and good levels of detail. If you’re looking for a capable point-and-shoot snapper, the XR does the job.
Both devices feature a single front facing camera. But the S10 tops the XR’s 7MP TrueDepth camera with a 10MP selfie shooter that captures 4K video.
The base iPhone XR ships with 64GB storage while the base Galaxy S10 comes with twice the amount of storage at 128GB. In a similar fashion, the Galaxy S10 comes with 6GB RAM — twice of the 3GB RAM the iPhone XR ships with. In terms of storage and RAM, the Galaxy S10 simply offers more from a value perspective. The additional RAM will ensure the Galaxy S10 is a notably better multitasker than the iPhone XR especially when pushed hard.
iPhone XR – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Galaxy S10 – 128GB, 512GB, microSD card slot
Apple is the only company that has completely done away with fingerprint sensors on its devices. The iPhone XR solely relies on Face ID and while it has become slightly faster in its second year, it is still nowhere near as good or as fast as second-generation Touch ID.
Samsung offers the best of both worlds on the Galaxy S10 by offering face unlock as well as an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Unlike Face ID, face unlock on the Galaxy S10 is notably faster, though it does so by compromising security. There is also an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. It is not as fast as the fingerprint sensor found on the Galaxy Note 9 or the OnePlus 6 but then, having a fingerprint sensor is better than not having one at all.
While the iPhone XR features an 2,942mAh battery, the Galaxy S10 packs a massive 3,400mAh battery. Case closed? Not quite. The iPhone XR’s LCD display is much less power-hungry than the S10’s AMOLED, which evens things up.
What’s more, both devices feature chipsets designed to prolong battery life. Both support wireless charging and fast charging, too, so they’re easy to juice up.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 also supports Wireless PowerShare, which allows you to share your phone’s battery with any compatible wireless charging device including iPhones, simply by placing the two devices close together.
Headphone Jack & Sound Quality
There’s no headphone jack on the iPhone XR, so your options are limited to the supplied Lightning Earpods or a pair of suitable wireless headphones.
If the 3.5mm headphone jack is important to you, go for the Galaxy S10. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can use existing wired headphones without an adapter. It also provides the option to charge and listen at the same time.
To Apple’s credit, the iPhone XR’s built-in speakers produce ‘wider stereo sound’ and offer decent sound. For the odd blast in the comfort of your own home, the XR is perfectly palatable.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 handset has AKG-tuned speakers that go loud but sound distinctly lightweight. There’s support for Dolby Atmos.
Voice assistants are present in both phones, too. Samsung’s Bixby is entertaining and useful at times, but Apple’s Siri is far more detail-orientated. That said, neither are a patch on Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Another area where the Galaxy S10 simply obliterates the iPhone XR. The device comes with an LTE modem that’s capable of reaching download speeds of 2Gbps and features other advanced connectivity features like Wi-Fi 6 and Intelligent Wi-Fi for improved network performance.
The iPhone XR is simply nowhere as good. It does not even support Gigabit LTE like the iPhone XS. And that has a major difference in mobile data speeds. Plus, in areas with spotty network reception, the Galaxy S10e will fare far better than the iPhone XR.
The Galaxy S10 costs $150 more than the iPhone XR. That’s likely going to be a deal breaker for many. However, with the Galaxy S10, Samsung is bundling Galaxy buds worth $129 in most markets. If you don’t want the buds, you can easily sell it off for around $80-90 and reduce the total blow to your pocket.
Ultimately, the iPhone XR sits a level below the Galaxy S10 and that’s evident from this comparison as well. The iPhone XR ideally competes with the Galaxy S10e which also carries the same $749 price tag.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 costs more than Apple’s iPhone XR, but comes with better camera trickery, an ultra-wide lens, ingenious power-sharing tech, and a beautifully-sharp AMOLED display to level-up video quality. It’s not perfect, but this feature-packed flagship is outstanding value for money.
If that extra cost is a deal breaker, or you’re heavily invested in the Apple eco-system, the iPhone XR is the smarter choice. Provided you can live with the lower screen resolution and won’t miss the 3.5mm headphone jack, the iPhone XR stacks up well against the pricier XS and XS Max. A great choice for those who want a bite of the Apple for a relatively affordable price.