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I’m in the market for a new iPhone and based on Apple’s specs the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have 3D Touch but the iPhone XR does not. While there is no mention whatsoever of Haptic Touch on their specs page, I have read that the iPhone XR has Haptic Touch instead of 3D Touch. Frustratingly I can’t find anything on Apple’s website about this.

Can someone explain the differences between 3D Touch and Haptic Touch?

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At this stage it’s somewhat unclear how many of the functions supported by Apple and 3rd party apps on 3D Touch can and/or will be supported on Haptic Touch.

According to Apple, the iPhone XR:

…doesn’t have 3D Touch, but here again the team came up with something really smart. It has a new feature we call haptic touch. So to get to the camera from the home screen, we just press on it. You feel a haptic tap, and you’re taken right to the camera. This is a similar technology to what we do with the track pad in the MacBook Pro that we all love so much. It is a great experience.

Source: Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing, 12 September 2018.

What does this actually mean?
The iPhone XR doesn’t have a pressure sensitive screen, but it does simulate the response that 3D Touch offers in that it provides haptic feedback to the user by way of a vibration instead of an actual haptic engine producing that feedback. But the biggest difference for power users of 3D Touch is that at the outset the user won’t get the additional options offered by 3D Touch.

For example, with 3D Touch a hard press on the Clock app will present the user with the following three options:

  1. Create Alarm
  2. Resume Stopwatch; and
  3. Start Timer.

On the iPhone XR a hard press will launch the Clock app with a slight vibration feedback, but will not provide these additional options. This is akin to having no contextual menu when right-clicking on an item in macOS or Windows, except that with computers the right-click is much loved and used while on the iPhone the usage of 3D Touch has not been so widespread.

All that said, it’s unclear if iOS will try to offer some of these same features via the use of long presses instead of firmer presses in future updates. At present though, if you’re a power user of 3D Touch and don’t want to give it up, you’d be better off purchasing an iPhone XS / XS Max or one of the older iPhone models.

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    I got to go into an Apple Store today and the guys there were a little hazy on how Haptic Touch will work. The guy went out back and spoke to some others and when he came back what he said they think lines up with what's in your answer. Seems weird that even the Apple guys are really just guessing. Apple should really be clearer on this. Anyhow, thanks for your answer. I guess I will wait until the iPhone XR is out so I can test it for myself.
    – H.H.
    Sep 29, 2018 at 8:59
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3D touch can detect how hard you push the screen. Depending on how hard you push the screen, you can toggle different actions on your iPhone.
Whenever you use 3D touch, your iPhone gives you haptic feedback (like a tiny vibration).

With Haptic Touch you can use the exact same actions and you also get haptic feedback. The only difference is that with Haptic Touch the actions are not toggled by pushing the screen harder, but by pushing and holding on the screen for a little longer time.

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    I got to go into an Apple Store today and the guys there were a little hazy on how Haptic Touch will work. The guy went out back and spoke to some others and when he came back what he said they think lines up with what's in Monomeeth's answer. Seems weird that even the Apple guys are really just guessing. Apple should really be clearer on this. Anyhow, thanks for your answer. I guess I will wait until the iPhone XR is out so I can test it for myself.
    – H.H.
    Sep 29, 2018 at 9:00

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