iPhone XR brings one-touch flashlight and camera shortcuts to the rest of us

Need a light? You won't need to swipe with the iPhone XR.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
Apple/Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

Blink and you might have missed it, but Apple announced Wednesday that its new and relatively inexpensive iPhone XR will come with a feature we've been wanting for years -- a way to easily turn on the flashlight and launch the camera with a single hand.

Instead of swiping to summon Apple's Control Center and tapping the icon, you'll now be able to press dedicated flashlight and camera buttons on your iPhone's lock screen. It's a feature that already came with the iPhone X and will probably appear in the pricier XS and XS Max, but it doesn't appear to exist on the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, even running the latest iOS 12 beta. (We checked.) 

So this is the first time it's come to a "standard" iPhone, if you will. 

Mind you, it might turn out to be too easy to launch the flashlight or camera if you're not careful. While the iPhone X, XS and XS Max have pressure-sensitive 3D Touch screens that activate the flashlight or camera when you press down hard, the iPhone XR only has haptic feedback. No 3D Touch.

We'll let you know how it feels when we review the phone. The iPhone XR goes on sale Oct. 26.

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