SE to XR: benefits from a VoiceOver perspective?

Hardware & Accessories

Hi all,

I'm considering making the jump from my SE to the XR, but am wondering what the benefits are from a VoiceOver perspective. I don't want to drop $1k (less with my Apple store gift card and trade in) on the XS, even though some say the OLED screen helps when you have screen curtain on.

Obviously battery life would get a noticeable bump, even though I just replaced the battery in my SE a few months ago. Now I can go almost the whole day before I need to plug myu phone in. Obviously, most of the mainstream stuff I find talks up the camera, which doesn't matter to me, unless it would give me better results with OCR apps. Has anyone found that to be the case?

My SE and 5S before it are the biggest iPhones I've had. I've always thought the plus size phones were just too big, but since the XR is like one of those phones, I might be willing to try it. Other than battery life, are there any plusses (rim shot sound) to the bigger phones as a VoiceOver user? I do 99% of my text input using braille screen input, so I'm thinking the bigger phones would allow for more space for that. I've been unable to test this when playing with the XR at the Apple store though, since the demo mode always kicks in before I can get everything turned on in VO settings.

Anyone got any good examples where they notice the XR being an improvement over a 6S/SE? I'm not a huge fan of losing the home button, and I've been unable to reliably get the new gestures to work whenever I've played with the newer phones, but I said the same thing the first time I ever saw an iPhone. I didn't really get used to the flick gestures until I'd had my 3rd gen iPod Touch for about a day, so the same thing would probably happen here. I figure as long as I have Apple store credit to use, I may as well look at the best of the 2018 iPhones I can afford.



Submitted by Remy on Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hi there. I just upgraded from the 6S Plus, so I can't speak to the size difference. I will say from moving to my 4S to the 6S Plus, it was a great improvement. The extra size allowed me to do braille screen input a great deal better. From the 6S Plus I can certainly say there is a noticeable improvement in speed when launching and using apps. The dual speakers are a nice touch as they allow for stereo sound. There are also stereo microphones which, while they are currently only good for recording stereo video for some reason may grant benefits eventually. The lack of a home button and touch ID are probably going to be the biggest things you notice. Rest assured you will get used to both, and in some ways I find the lack of a home button actually works better. One thing to keep in mind is the new Iphones do not have a standard headphone jack. They do come with Ear Pods with a lightning end, but if you want a lightning to headphone connecter you'll have to pay a bit for it. I can't speak to the better OCR since I actually haven't used it much, but I will say for magnification, the XR works much better than the 6S Plus. I imagine OCR will work better also. Hopefully someone can confirm. Otherwise, everything else about the phone seems pretty good. Hopefully that ... sort of helps.

Submitted by Jeff on Thursday, February 21, 2019

I can't really comment on your actual question because I've never used either the SE or XR. But it sounds like you may have some misinformation.

The XR has an LCD screen, not an OLED screen. Only the XS and XS Max have OLED screens.

That said, according to comments and reviews that I've read, the XR apparently does live up to its battery life claims.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Thursday, February 21, 2019

In reply to by Jeff

Yes, the XR's display is LCD. I was trying to say that the OLED display on the XS and Max isn't worth the extra money to me.

I should've also clarified that I'm not bothered by the lack of a headphone jack in the new phones either. I started using lightning ear pods in 2017, and went bluetooth with my Beats X the middle of last year and haven't looked back since.

Submitted by Amber on Friday, February 22, 2019

Hello. I used an SE for a little over 2 years. I just got the XR in November and I love it. The reason I got it was for the battery and because I needed more storage space. There are so many improvements. I can't speak for the camera thing because I just don't use those apps enough to say whether there is much of a difference or not. But the speakers are so much better it's insane, the screen size is better for braille screen input. I'm using it right now. I never even messed with it before because there just wasn't much room to work with. But the screen being this big did take some getting used to. Although I would be happier if the phone was a little bit smaller, I just remember this big phone has a great big battery, and I love that. It's faster, and it can take a lot more of a beating as far as doing lots of processor-intensive stuff compared with the SE. I had a lot of trouble with the home and app switcher gestures in the Apple store. I was really worried that I would have trouble getting used to them once I got home, but I actually got used to them in just a matter of a few hours. I also didn't have nearly as much trouble with Face ID as I thought I would either. I'm very pleased with this phone. Although the SE is a great phone, I am very glad I made the switch.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Saturday, March 2, 2019

Thanks for your input. I'm also trying to research case options, but it's also hard to get much info from reviews. I looked at a few cases in the Apple store, and of those I liked the Apple clear case best. I loved my Apple leather case I got with my 5S, which bit the dust a couple weeks after I got my SE. Some of the reviews of the Apple XR case say it is kind of slippery, and since I use BSI all the time, I wouldn't want to drop my phone (I haven't done that yet). I don't want a big bulky case either... no otterbox defenders for me.

Hi as far as OCR goes seeing AI goes their is a bump in speed for Aira the agents can see things a lot more clearly I’v upgraded from a 7 to the 11 and I’m happy that I switched

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Thursday, January 2, 2020

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team


I went from an iPhone 8 to the iPhone XR.

I bought a leather folio case at Best Buy and it works just fine with my wireless charging pad. I like folio cases a lot.

I like almost everything about the iPhone XR. I like battery life. I am very comfortable with the new gestures. Speed is good. And, even with the case, it fits comfortably in my shirt pocket.

The only thing I miss is TouchID. TouchID always worked. FaceID usually works, but not always. A few times a day, I have to punch in my 6 digit code to get back inside the operating system.

Was it worth the upgrade? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

Take care and Happy 2020,


Submitted by Michael Feir on Friday, January 3, 2020

Club AppleVis Member

Hello. I have a XR and am very happy with it. I've come to prefer Face ID and the lack of a home button. It took perhaps a few hours to get used to the home button replacement gestures and Face ID. The speed and stability improvements are great.

For cases, I have come to prefer the Lifeproof FRE model. It has a built in screen protector, is totally waterproof as long as you close the little cover over the lightning port, and provides good grip to the phone. OCR results are splendid as is object recognition. However, I got pretty good results with my 7 as well. My wife Sara is very happy with her XR and uses Braille screen input extensively. I don't do this myself since I'm much faster on a Bluetooth keyboard. I would absolutely do this upgrade over but must admit to being curious about how much experiential difference there is between the XR and 11.

Submitted by JC Alicea on Sunday, January 19, 2020

Has anyone tested Aira with the XR? if yes, how is the overall performance when it comes to using it with an Aira agent?

Submitted by Jared on Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rumor is that there will be a new 4.7 inch phone with touch id, the home button, and a faster processor. You may want to wait for a couple months if your phone is working. I upgraded from a 6s (same processor as the SE) to my wife's two year iPhone 10 since she got the 11 pro. My plan is to sell the 10 and switch to the new phone with touch ID if it comes out soon. Below are my experiences.
1. Face ID is not as nice as touch iD. I'd say I get a 75% success rate with face id, while I had a 95% plus success rate with touch ID. Face ID is also less convenient then touch ID. If I want to unlock my phone in a meeting with touch ID I could do it under the table. With face id I have to hold it in front of my face so everyone can tell I don't care about the latest TPS report. I also find that face id is a bigger pain to use in bed. If my phone is charging I need to unplug it, wave it above my head to unlock it then plug it in to continue charging. With touch id I can unlock it while it's on the charger.
2. I hate the home button and app switcher jestures. I could only get them correct about 1/4 of the time. Because of this I mapped three finger single tap to home and three finger double tap to app switcher.
3. The 10 is a lot faster then the 6s. This would be just as noticeable if you moved to an xr.
4. The battary is a lot better with the 10 then the 6s. I'm not sure if this is do the 10 being physically larger or the 6s being an older phone. I assume it's a combination of both.
5. Wireless charging is nice. I like being able to set my phone down on a pad with out needing to plug it in. You wouldn't think this is a quality of life improvement but it is.
6. I didn't initially like the extra size but I normally don't notice it now unless I'm putting the phone in a jeans pocket. It's a tight fit in my jeans pocket.
I'm glad I made the switch for the speed improvement, wireless charging, and battary life bump. I find the new home and app switcher jestures to be so dificult and unintuitive that if I was not able to map them to three finger taps I would have continued to use my 6s. I feel face id is a regression for me compared to touch id. I don't have any opinion about the upgraded cameras because I don't do a lot of scanning. Assuming a low cost phone comes out with touch id, a home button, and a smaller size I will be buying it quickly. If a new phone came out that was smaller but didn't have a home button and had face id instead of touch id I'd stick with the 10.

Submitted by Justin on Sunday, January 19, 2020

Honestly, I went from a 6S plus to the iPhone X 2 years ago and do not regret it one bit. FaceId is a relief from the annoying touch id. I know a lot of blind folks who hate Faceid, but in this day and age, Why? it works great, and if you follow the instructions, it'll work 99% of the time. The only time it doesn't work the best is if it's very bright in a room or you're out in the sun.Otherwise, I's happy to see the home button gone. The gestures work fine. The best thing I can say if you're having trouble, is to put your finger in the middle of the bottom of the screen, then slide up till ya hear the clicks and feel haptick feedback. I'm waiting till the 12 pro is released, then will upgrade... none of this 4.7 iPhone SE 2. The SE2 might just be bigger than 4.7 inches, don't get hopes up folks. I know I won't

Submitted by Brian Giles on Monday, January 20, 2020

Lol I forgot about this thread for a while. Surprised to see all the recent replies. Thanks for all the feedback.

I made the jump to a 64 gig XR last March and I agree with most of the comments here. I think over all I prefer Face ID to Touch ID now, though it took me a while to get the hang of it during set up.

As for OCR, I don't think I'm much better at that with the XR than I was with my SE. I think a lot of that is because as a totally blind person, I never really learned how to use a camera when I was younger because, why would I need to? So I've had to kind of learn it by trial and error. At least for me, that's a skill that would be best learned hands-on and wouldn't be as effective trying to get the hang of by, say, listening to a podcast. YMMV

I went with Apple's own clear case which I love. Not too bulky with just enough extra grip, and it doesn't make the buttons super hard to press. Also agree about wireless charging. I got a Moppie dual wireless charger for Christmas and it's nice to plop the phone and Air Pods Pro down on it to charge at the same time, though it can be tricky to line them up right since the top just feels like a smooth glass oval. I wish the Air Pods case could make some kind of vibration or sound to know that it's placed correctly. The little LED on the front doesn't do us a whole lot of good. lol

I also love my XR because of the battery life as it's currently my only device. I can usually get through a whole day with about 40% battery left. The only thing I don't like about it is over time I've found that it's a little too wide for my liking and I sometimes wish I'd have gone with a XS instead.

And yes, the rumored "iPhone 9" is a little bit tempting, but I don't think I'll bite. lol