For Apple devotees, the iPhone is the only phone that matters. The biggest choice fans have to make is whether they need to get the newest iPhone right now, grab a bargain on an older model, or hold off in the hopes of an even newer iPhone being launched.
However, simply going for the newest iPhone doesn’t always mean you’ll get the best deal. Often, the older iPhone models are just as slick and feature-packed as the newer ones. Put simply, there are no bad iPhones out there if you go for a model from the past couple of years.
You could buy any of the seven iPhones currently on sale, whether that's a brand new $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max or cheaper iPhone 12, and bag one of the best phones on sale. You could even buy a $599 iPhone 11 and get a very decent phone.
But how do you know you're getting the right iPhone for you? We've taken an in-depth look at all the iPhones on sale, so you can quickly and easily find out which one is right for you.
Which Is The Best iPhone?
These are the best Apple iPhone models you can buy. Though it’s still possible to track down older ones second-hand or refurbished, we’d advise sticking to one of the iPhones below:
- iPhone 12 Pro – The best iPhone on sale: The iPhone 12 Pro is, in our mind, the best iPhone you can buy at the moment. Its smaller size makes it easier to use than the 12 Pro Max, while its triple rear cameras and improved battery life make it a noticeable improvement over the regular iPhone 12 models.
- iPhone 12 – A great option for almost everyone: The iPhone 12 was a big upgrade over the 11 with a new OLED display, 5G connectivity, improved cameras, and that fancy MagSafe tech. Plus, at $799, you're saving a not-inconsiderable amount of money compared to the iPhone 12 Pro. It also comes in loads of fancy colors, which is nice.
- iPhone 12 Pro Max – The one with the big screen: At the risk of sounding reductive, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is only really meant for people who just want more. You get a larger screen and a larger battery, which makes it great for playing games or for people who need to work on their phones. But the $1,099 price tag still seems steep to us.
- iPhone 12 Mini – All the iPhone 12 tech in a smaller package: The iPhone 12 Mini brings the latest A14 Bionic processor, dual 12Mp cameras, and MagSafe compatibility to a phone with a tiny 5.4-inch display. However, unlike the iPhone, that display is edge-to-edge, keeping the overall size smaller as well.
- iPhone SE – The cut-price iPhone: The iPhone SE brings familiar iPhone looks but gives you newer, faster tech. It's powered by the older A13 Bionic processor but still packs good performance and cameras for its low $399 price tag. However, it looks seriously dated compared to new iPhones and similarly priced Android phones.
OLEDs are generally better but LCDs are cheaper.
The higher the numbers, the better — generally.
Measured in milliampere hours. The larger the number, the better.
Measured in gigabytes, more RAM allows phones to handle more tasks at once.
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iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Mini
iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone 12 Pro Review
The iPhone 12 Pro looks like a return to form from Apple, with a completely new design and some features which bring it bang-up-to-date with the latest in mobile tech.
iPhone 12 Pro cameras
The iPhone 12 Pro has three 12 Mp rear cameras with ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses to help you take the best photos in any situation.
The ultra-wide lens has a 120-degree field of view — which puts it slightly wider than the human eye. The telephoto lens, meanwhile, will give you a 2x optical zoom and a 10x digital zoom.
However, iPhones have always been about more than just camera hardware. Apple has added a LiDAR scanner to help make night mode portraits better, as well as dual optical image stabilization on the wide and telephoto lenses to make videos and photos smoother.
Speaking of video recording, the iPhone 12 Pro will let you shoot in HDR — for brighter, more dynamic videos with deeper blacks — at up to 60 fps. In terms of resolution, you can shoot up to 4K video at up to 60 fps, as well as slow-motion video at 1080p resolution with 120 or 240 fps.
Round the front, you get another 12Mp camera which will also record 4K video at up to 60 fps. This generation of iPhones all take great photos but, compared to the videos from Android phones, the Apple devices stand apart.
iPhone 12 Pro performance and processor
One of the least talked-about aspects of the iPhone's prowess is its remarkable processor.
The iPhone 12 Pro gets the latest A14 Bionic processor. It has 40% more transistors than the A13 it replaces which, Apple reckons, brings greater efficiency for battery life. It also allows you to record videos in Dolby Vision as well as giving up to 70% faster image processing through machine learning.
Paired with 6GB of RAM — the most ever in an iPhone — the 12 Pro can easily power through multitasking, high-end photography and videography, and gaming.
iPhone 12 Pro battery life and price
When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 12 Pro starts looking a bit lacklustre compared to the 11 Pro it replaces. It has a smaller battery, for example, at 2815 mAh compared to the 11 Pro's 3046 mAh unit.
Apple claims that users should still see the same 65 hours of audio playback and 11 hours of streamed video playback. However, stored video playback drops to 17 hours from 18 hours.
When it comes to price, the
The 12 Pro and 11 Pro both claim that they can be charged up to 50% in 30 minutes with a 20W and 18W charger, respectively. However, the 11 Pro came with its charger in the box for no extra cost. The 12 Pro, however, requires you to buy the wall plug and charging cable for $19 each!
The 12 Pro, thankfully, costs the same as the 11 Pro when it was released — a modest $999. You do, however, get 128GB of storage as standard — the first time ever for an iPhone.
Verdict: The best iPhone you can buy at the moment.
- Stylish new design
- Massively powerful processor
- Stunning screen
- An improved OLED screen
- Powerful processor
- Brilliant cameras
- Similarly priced Android phones have higher refresh rate screens
- Huge, sharp screen
- A14 Bionic processor is one of the best on the market
- Improved battery life of any new iPhone
- Very expensive
- Too large for some
iPhone 12 Mini
The iPhone 12 Mini is a new addition to the iPhone lineup, bringing the same tech as the more expensive iPhone 12 to a smaller, handier package. It's a nice change from the unceasing phone growth in the last few years.
iPhone 12 Mini screen and size
The iPhone 12 Mini has a 5.4-inch screen — almost 0.7-inches smaller than the regular iPhone 12. Fortunately, the 12 Mini still features a Super Retina XDR OLED display with HDR compatibility.
It has a 1080×2340 resolution, lower than the iPhone 12's 1170×2532. However, thanks to its smaller screen, the iPhone 12 Mini has a higher pixel-per-inch count than its bigger brother — 476 ppi compared to 460 ppi.
Perhaps more interesting is that the iPhone 12 Mini, despite being smaller and lighter than the iPhone SE, the new Mini features a screen that is 0.7-inches larger. If there's one phone which demonstrates the benefits of removing the home button, it's the iPhone 12 Mini.
iPhone 12 Mini battery life
However, one area where the 12 Mini falls down compared to the iPhone 12 is in battery life.
As a result of its smaller size, the iPhone 12 Mini has to make do with a 2227 mAh battery, compared to the iPhone 12's 2815 mAh unit. In practice, it means that while the iPhone 12 can manage up to 17 hours of video playback, the 12 Mini can only manage 15. When it comes to audio playback, the distinction is even starker — the iPhone 12 can manage 65 hours but the iPhone 12 Mini can only stump up 50 hours.
iPhone 12 Mini price
The iPhone 12 Mini costs $699 — $100 less than the regular iPhone 12. However, that's $100 more than the old iPhone 11 and $300 more than the similarly handy iPhone SE.
However, the Mini has an upgraded screen, processor, and cameras compared to both the iPhone 11 and SE.
Verdict: If you want a small iPhone, we'd buy this one. If not, we'd choose the 12 or 12 Pro.
- Small, easily pocketable design
- Smart cameras
- Powerful processor
- Poor battery life
The iPhone SE costs just $399, and gives people a genuinely viable cheap iPhone option. Expect them to sell like hot cakes.
iPhone SE performance
Perhaps the iPhone SE's biggest selling point, aside from it being an iPhone, is its processor.
It uses the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. This means it is more powerful than any other Android phone on sale, and will help you power through tasks.
However, the iPhone SE does lose out when it comes to battery life. That powerful processor can seriously drain the tiny 1,821 mAh battery.
iPhone SE screen
The iPhone SE's biggest drawback is its screen. It has a 4.7-inch LCD display, which is the same as the old iPhone 8. It's a good LCD display, but its not a patch on similarly priced Android phones with OLEDs.
That said, if you've been using iPhones for the past five years or so, you won't notice much difference.
iPhone SE Camera
The iPhone SE has a 12Mp rear camera, and it takes surprisingly good shots. In fact, it's considered to be one of the few sub-$500 phones than can compete with the Google Pixel 3a series.
It also takes by far the best videos of any phone at this price.
- Small and handy
- Impressive camera for the price
- Faster than all other phones in its class
- Small, low-resolution screen
- Small battery
All the new iPhones have exactly the same front camera: A 12Mp depth-sensing lens that will take care of everything from FaceID unlocking to cringe-inducing Snapchat videos on a night out, plus fancy Portrait Mode shots.
Which iPhone has a Dual Camera?
The dual rear camera was introduced to the iPhone lineup in recent years, but not all models have it. Don't forget, though, that the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have three rear cameras.
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Mini
- iPhone 11
- iPhone XR
- iPhone SE
If you want to get the iPhone with the best battery life, you should get the 12 Pro Max. Its battery is significantly larger than any other iPhone on sale, and it consequently has a longer battery life.
The iPhone SE, on the other hand, has a very small battery by 2021 standards. It's cheap, sure, but you're investing in tech that is slightly behind the times in some areas.
- Better value than iPhone 11
- Good screen quality for an LCD
- Premium design
- Range of color options
- Single camera, rather than dual camera of the iPhone 11
- ‘Notch' screen design is divisive
- LCD, rather than OLED display
iPhone XS Review
You can't buy the iPhone XS directly from Apple any longer. However, it is still available at loads of different carriers.
iPhone XS price
The XS is still a very good phone – a year might seem a long time in tech, but the XS hasn't aged poorly at all. It still oozes quality from its hardware, right through to its software and AI smarts. Being two years old, the iPhone XS has seen a $100 price cut, bringing it down to a slightly more reasonable $899.
iPhone XS cameras
Compared to the newer iPhone 11, the iPhone XS has one less rear camera and a lower-resolution front camera. You'll still be able to take some very impressive pictures, however.
iPhone XS performance and battery life
It also has a smaller battery and uses the older A12 Bionic processor. It won't be noticeably slower than the iPhone 11 — iPhones are always pretty speedy — but you'll likely miss the improved battery life.
Verdict – It's still decent but we'd choose the iPhone 11 Pro instead
Find out more – iPhone XS Review
- Great cameras
- Incredibly powerful
- Fantastic screen
- Still expensive
- Might be a touch too big for some
iPhone XS Max Review
The XS Max is essentially the iPhone XS, but bigger. You get a bigger screen, a bigger battery, and a bigger price tag – naturally.
iPhone XS Max design
However, for a lot of people, the XS Max will simply be too big to handle. Reaching to the top corner of the XS is already a struggle at times, and with an extra 0.7 inches of screen real estate, the XS Max is akin to using a small tablet. It doesn't use the extra screen well, either – icons and notifications, for example, are simply bigger, rather than more numerous or more information-rich. It felt like a missed opportunity last year, and it still feels like one today.
iPhone XS Max price
Like the iPhone XS, you can't buy the XS Max directly from Apple any longer, although it is still well-supported by carrier networks. And, like the XS, it has also had a $100 price cut in the wake of the iPhone 11 Pro Max's launch, bringing it down to a $999 – not exactly great value. So, should you buy it? Not in our mind. It's too big, and crucially, too heavy for our tastes.
Verdict: Big, bold, but lacking the subtleties needed to make it a great phone.
Learn more – iPhone XS Max full review
- Huge screen
- Great cameras
- Speedy processor
- The screen might be too big
- Enormously expensive
- Fails to make the most of its big screen
- Decent-sized screen
- Processor is still speedy
- Will continue to be supported with software updates
- Small battery
- LCD screen
- Ageing design
- Small and handy
- Small, low-resolution screen
- Small battery
- Single rear camera
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