You can now preorder Apple's cheaper iPhone XR

The device starts at $749 and has some limitations compared to its iPhone XS and XS Max siblings.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

The iPhone XR hits stores Oct. 26.

James Martin/CNET

If a cheaper iPhone is what you've been waiting for, you're now in luck.

Preorders for Apple's iPhone XR kicked off at 12 a.m. PT on Friday. The device will hit stores Oct. 26. The only model that won't be delivered on launch day is the 128GB yellow model from T-Mobile . This will ship in one to two weeks. 

You can preorder the iPhone XR at at: Apple Store | Sprint | Best Buy | Walmart | Verizon | AT&T | T-Mobile.

The starting price for the iPhone XR is $749 for 64GB of storage. That's up $50 from last year's $699 for the iPhone 8, itself a bump from 2016. But it's a big price cut from its iPhone XS and XS Max siblings, which hit the market a month ago. The iPhone XS, like last year's iPhone X, will set you back $999 to $1,349. The larger Max costs $1,099 to $1,449, depending on the amount of storage. 

Watch this: Our firsthand impressions of the iPhone XS, XR, Max and Apple Watch (The 3:59, Ep. 458)

It's tough to gauge iPhone demand based on preorders. Apple's inventory fluctuates from model to model, depending on how many devices it can manufacture ahead of launch.  Some iPhone models have sold out in less than 10 minutes in the past. Many of the iPhone XS and XS Max models were still available for the Sept. 21 launch, but the larger and more expensive iPhone XS Max at Verizon and AT&T proved hard to come by. 

Not all of Apple's phone launches have gone smoothly. In the past, Apple's website hasn't loaded quickly, and only people accessing its iPhone and iPad app were able to preorder devices when sales began. During last year's iPhone X launch, Apple's app didn't work for about 10 minutes after preorders began. 

The iPhone XR uses cheaper parts than the XS and XS Max, including an aluminum body and LCD display instead of stainless steel and OLED. One of the biggest differences between the XS and XS Max is the cameras. The XR has only one lens on the back of the phone instead of two. 

While prices for super-premium phones such as the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 are rising higher than ever before, even a company with as loyal a following as Apple needs to do more than just target the affluent. The iPhone X may have been a hit, but globally, Apple is starting to see its market share erode as more affordable options from the likes of Huawei , OnePlus and Xiaomi catch people's attention.

If you wanted one of Apple's smartphones last year but couldn't splurge for the iPhone X, you were stuck buying the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus -- phones that sport a design first introduced in 2014. You also didn't get access to Apple's Face ID technology, the marquee new feature from last year.

Not last year's tech

The XR isn't using "last year's technology." Most of the components and camera capabilities are identical to what you'll find in the pricier iPhone XS models. That includes the new A12 Bionic processor, a wide-angle camera sensor, Face ID, wireless charging and dual SIM capabilities. 

The phone's LCD display is about 6.1 inches, which is bigger than the 5.8-inch XS (but smaller than the 6.5-inch XS Max). It's offered in multiple bright colors: red, coral, yellow, blue, black and white. It also has the best battery life out of all of Apple's newest phones. 

Apple says the XR will have 15 hours of internet use (compared with 12 for the XS and 13 for the XS Max) or 16 hours of video playback (it's 14 hours for the XS and 15 for the Max).

There's no telephoto lens on the back of the screen, on the downside, and LTE connectivity speeds are slower. The body of the phone is made from aluminum instead of steel, and it's not quite as water resistant as the XS and XS Max. But overall it's received positive first impressions from reviewers. 

"Despite coming out a month after the iPhone XS and XS Max, the XR is the 2018 iPhone most of you should pay the closest attention to before deciding to buy a new phone this year," CNET's Scott Stein said.

Originally published at 12:05 a.m. PT
Update at 12:36 a.m. PT: Adds backorder status.

5G is your next big upgrade: Everything you need to know about the 5G revolution.

NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken humanity farther than anyone else, and it has plans to go further.