I swapped my 4-year-old iPhone 5S for a coral iPhone XR — and it's been a massive adjustment

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

I’d been putting it off.

Before October 26, I hadn’t gotten a new phone since Christmas Eve 2014. I’d resisted the temptation of the new phones that my colleagues were reviewing, coveting the cameras their phones carry but telling myself that my iPhone 5S was still kicking, and therefore should be fine.

But in July, things started going awry. Sure, I’d been losing battery much faster than I’d like for a while now, but then my Touch ID stopped working, and my phone stopped taking calls. I got good at typing my passcode and carrying around my charger, but once I couldn’t connect with the world by phone, things got bleak.

So, after almost four years and much consultation with BI’s tech reporters, I made the switch at their recommendation to the iPhone XR. What ensued was a bumpy – if not exhilarating – transition.


This was the first time I’d ever pre-ordered a phone, so I wanted to get the full experience. Dutifully, I set my alarm for 3 a.m., placed my order, and went back to sleep.

Screenshot via Lydia Ramsey

It wasn’t the best use of my time, as I found out when I woke up. The iPhone XR didn’t sell out, and I spent the day a bit sleep deprived.


I arrived at the Oculus in New York City where I had scheduled to pick up my new phone bright and early on October 26.

Lydia RamseyI snapped this photo with my iPhone 5S on the way in.

There weren’t any lines, so right away I was handed my iPhone to do the honours of unboxing it.

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Immediately, I was taken in by the colour. I’m a big fan of coral, but even while sitting in the Apple store setting up my phone, I debated with myself whether the phone was actually, in fact, orange (My verdict: It’s coral, but on the orange end of the coral spectrum rather than the pink end).

Lydia Ramsey/Business InsiderThis was taken on my 5s, too. Clearly, it was time for a new camera.

The other thing that surprised me was the size. Until it arrived, I hadn’t realised it’d be bigger than the iPhone X or XS.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderHere’s my iPhone 5S on the left, stacked up alongside an iPhone X (in the middle) and my new XR, on the right.

Setting up my phone and re-adding all my apps, I was amazed at all that Face ID was able to do. Plus, being able to tap my phone’s display and have it turn on has been a game-changer.

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

And of course, it was a blast to play around with portrait mode. Here’s me, in the most glamorous of settings (LaGuardia Airport’s food court).

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

The camera, not unexpectedly, is light-years better than my previous iPhone. Here’s a frantic selfie taken on the 5S …

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

… and one taken the next day on the XR.

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

What’s been the most groundbreaking and life-changing is the BATTERY LIFE.

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

No longer do I have to worry about losing 10% of my battery before even getting into the office in the morning. I can listen to my podcasts or read through a story and still have 99% left after my commute.

At the end of the work day on my old phone, I’d often be left with battery life in the single digits. Now, I can go a whole day without dipping below 60%.


While I already can’t imagine how I managed life on a smaller screen, I do miss the size of my 5S. It’s hard for me to run with my phone now, and even slipping it into jeans pockets or coats can be difficult.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

I’m also still getting used to picking up my phone with the right end up, something I wouldn’t have encountered in the days of the home button. It’s been a few weeks, and I’m wondering if I’ll grow out of it.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

All this to say, I’m glad I made the leap when I did.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The iPhone XR was the first device in almost four years I actually got excited about switching to. Though, had the health of my 5S not deteriorated so quickly, I could still see myself benefitting from the size.

If I could put all of the updates I got from the XR into the size of the 5S, that might be the perfect phone for me – though with the discontinuation of the smaller iPhone SE, I’m not expecting that to happen any time soon.

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