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Which iPhone Should I Get?

October 18, 2019

3:27 am

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 a new 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’s no bad iPhones out there if you go for a model from the past couple of years.

You could buy any of the six iPhones currently on sale, whether that's a brand new $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max or the cheaper iPhone 11, and bag one of the best phones on sale. You could even buy a $549 iPhone 8 Plus 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:

  1. iPhone 11 Pro – The best iPhone on sale: The iPhone 11 Pro is, in our mind, the best iPhone you can buy at the moment. Its smaller size makes it easier to use than the 11 Pro Max and its OLED screen is streets ahead of the regular iPhone 11. Plus, you get some of the best phone cameras on the market.
  2. iPhone 11 – A great option for almost everyone: While it doesn't have an OLED screen and has to make do with 828p LCD display, the iPhone 11 will still be perfect for most people. Plus, at $699 you're saving a not-inconsiderable amount of money compared to the iPhone 11 Pro. It also comes in loads of fancy colors, which is nice.
  3. iPhone 11 Pro Max – The one with the big screen: At the risk of sounding reductive, the iPhone 11 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.
  4. iPhone XS – Still a very impressive option: Previously the best iPhone, the XS might now be stuck in the 11 Pro's shadow, but it's still a very good phone. Plus, with the recent $100 price cut, it is almost a decent value option. Read our full iPhone XS review to learn more.
  5. iPhone XR – Maybe the best value iPhone at the moment: After being replaced by the iPhone 11, last year's XR has dropped in price to $599. We still have reservations about the (relatively) low resolution LCD screen but, for that price you'll struggle to find a faster phone that looks this good. Read our full iPhone XR review to learn more.
  6. iPhone XS Max – Still expensive but still impressive: Like the XS and XR above, the XS Max has had a $100 price cut. It's still a great phone but, for $999, we'd rather have the newer iPhone 11 Pro. Read our full iPhone XS Max review to learn more.
  7. iPhone 8 Plus – It's two years old, but you could do worse: The 8 Plus is starting to show its age. But, with dual rear cameras and a large 5.5-inch display, it's still a decent phone for streaming and gaming.
  8. iPhone 8 – Struggles to justify its price tag these days: It might only cost $449 from Apple, but you can get so much more for your money these days if you look to rival brands. The screen is too small, the battery is tiny by modern standards, and you only get the single rear camera.
iPhone 11 ProiPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone 11
apple iphone 11 proapple iphone 11 pro maxapple iphone 11
Screen size (in)5.86.56.1
Screen typeOLEDOLEDLCD
Screen resolution1125×24361242×2688828×1792
Storage sizes (GB)64, 256, 51264, 256, 51264, 128, 256
ProcessorA13 BionicA13 BionicA13 Bionic
FaceIDYesYesYes
Rear cameraTriple 12MpTriple 12MpDual 12Mp
Front camera12Mp TrueDepth12Mp TrueDepth12Mp TrueDepth
Buy now from VerizonClick hereClick hereClick here

iPhone 11 Pro Review

The iPhone 11 Pro looks like a return to form from Apple, following the iterative upgrade from iPhone X to XS. Early reports suggest that the new triple camera set up, the first of its kind on an iPhone, is a resounding success. This would put the latest iPhone cameras back into the fray with Google, Samsung, and Huawei's top models. The front camera has also seen a resolution bump from 7Mp to 12Mp, something which will no doubt delight selfie enthusiasts.

However, Apple made the biggest changes under the hood. The new A13 Bionic processor keeps the iPhone 11 Pro at the forefront of the smartphone speed skirmish, meaning snappy app switching and multitasking, as well as impressive gaming performance. However, the new processor is smarter, allowing for faster face-unlocking and improved computational photography tricks. The iPhone 11 Pro also gets a larger battery than the old XS, which should hearten iPhone users over-accustomed to reaching for the charging cable.

It's still an expensive phone, of course. Plus, with prices starting at $999, but just 64GB of storage as standard, one feels Apple is being a bit stingy.

Verdict: The best iPhone you can buy at the moment.

Pros

  • Significantly improved cameras
  • Beautiful screen quality
  • Smart and powerful processor
  • High quality design and build

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Paltry storage

Buy the iPhone 11 Pro

From Verizon

From Amazon

iPhone 11 Review

The iPhone 11 is the baby of the new Apple phone lineup, costing $699 from new. For reference, that's $50 cheaper than the iPhone XR that it replaced — who said Apple isn't a consumer friendly company!

Jokes aside, the iPhone 11 would be a great option for almost anyone eyeing a new iPhone — almost anyone. Despite upgrades to the battery, processor, and cameras, the iPhone 11 is still stuck with an LCD display. In fact, the 11's display isn't even a full-HD panel – it has an 828×1792 resolution. If you're looking at the iPhone 11 as a replacement for an old iPhone X or an Android phone with an OLED screen, we'd caution against it.

If you're not particularly bothered about having the absolute best screen quality, though, the iPhone 11 remains a great option. The extra rear camera and improved front camera should give it a more well-rounded set of photography skills, while the new A13 Bionic processor means that it'll be able to keep up with anything that you throw at it.

Verdict: A very good phone, but its LCD screen is a let down.

Pros

  • Improved front and rear cameras
  • Speedy processor
  • Beautiful range of color options
  • Larger battery should make it easier to live with

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Paltry storage

Buy the iPhone 11

From Verizon

From Amazon

iPhone 11 Pro Max Review

From the cheap-ish and cheerful iPhone 11 to the expensive and enormous iPhone 11 Pro Max. The new range-topping Pro Max model starts at $1,099, but can be specced-up to a fairly ridiculous $1,449.

However, you do get a lot of phone for your money. The Pro Max comes with a large 6.5-inch display and weighs a whopping 226 grams. That's 30 grams more than the larger Samsung Note 10 Plus, for example. You also get the largest battery that Apple has ever squeezed into an iPhone, a 3,969 mAh unit. That should be enough to keep it running easily for a day and a half.

You also get the new triple camera set-up and A13 Bionic processor for great photos and speedy performance. All told, we want to like the 11 Pro Max, but it's just a bit too rich, and too large, for our tastes. Think very carefully about whether you truly need this much phone, before reaching for your wallet.

Verdict: The sheer size and price of the 11 Pro Max make us lean towards the 11 Pro.

Pros

  • Large screen is great for watching films and playing games
  • Smart and speedy processor
  • Improved cameras
  • Large battery to keep it running for over a day

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Paltry storage
  • On the large side for us

Buy the iPhone 11 Pro Max 

From Verizon

From Amazon

iPhone XR Review

The iPhone XR was, effectively, replaced by the iPhone 11, although you can still buy it directly from Apple.

It follows the same basic design as the iPhone 11, with a 6.1-inch LCD display, complete with the notch for the front camera and slightly wider bezels than the pricier OLED 11 Pro and Pro Max models.

However, as the XR is now effectively old hat, it's received a price cut. When it debuted, the XR cost $749 — which by our reckoning was slightly too expensive. It now costs a far more reasonable $599.

But for $100 more, you could get the new iPhone 11 with faster processor, larger battery, and an extra rear camera, as well as an improved front snapper. We like saving money here at Tech.co but, if we're honest, we'd choose the newer iPhone 11 over the XR.

Verdict: The price cut makes it enticing but we'd rather have the upgraded iPhone 11 for not that much more.

Find out more: iPhone XR full review

Pros

  • Better value than iPhone 11
  • Good screen quality for an LCD
  • Premium design
  • Range of color options

Cons

  • Single camera, rather than dual camera of the iPhone 11
  • ‘Notch' screen design is divisive
  • LCD, rather than OLED display

Buy the iPhone XR 

From Verizon

From Amazon

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.

It's 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 a year old, the iPhone XS has seen a $100 price cut, bringing it down to a slightly more reasonable $899.

Compared to the newer iPhone 11, the iPhone XS has one fewer rear camera and a lower-resolution front camera. 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 great but for $100 more, we'd still choose the iPhone 11 Pro (notice a theme developing here?)

Find out more – iPhone XS Review

Pros

  • Great cameras
  • Incredibly powerful
  • Fantastic screen

Cons

  • Still expensive
  • Might be a touch too big for some

Buy the iPhone XS

From Verizon

From Amazon

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.

However, for a lot of people, the XS Max will be simply 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.

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

Pros

  • Huge screen
  • Great cameras
  • Speedy processor

Cons

  • The screen might be too big
  • Enormously expensive
  • Fails to make the most of its big screen

Buy the iPhone XS Max

From Verizon

From Amazon


iPhone 8 Plus

The 8 Plus is two years old now, but you can still buy it directly from Apple for a respectable $549. Admittedly, it's hardly cutting-edge tech any longer, with large bezels all round, no FaceID, and an LCD screen rather than a more modern OLED display.

However, despite the ageing looks, the hardware should still stand up to scrutiny. With dual rear cameras, the 8 Plus can still take a perfectly decent picture. Plus, its A11 Bionic processor should still be sprightly enough to handle the latest apps and games. You can also take heart in knowing that you'll be supported with iOS software updates for years to come.

One area you will feel the pinch though, is battery life. The 8 Plus, despite its size, only has a 2,691 mAh battery — tiny by modern standards.

Verdict: Feeling its age, but a decent phone for $549. 

Pros

  • Decent-sized screen
  • Processor is still speedy
  • Will continue to be supported with software updates

Cons

  • Small battery
  • LCD screen
  • Ageing design

Buy the iPhone 8 Plus

From Verizon

iPhone 8

Like the 8 Plus, but smaller and cheaper. A new iPhone 8 will set you back $449 which, if we're honest, is a lot of money for a phone this dated.

By the standards of modern smartphones, the iPhone 8 is tiny. It has a 4.7-inch screen with a lowly 750×1334 resolution. It also only has a single rear camera and an almost comically small 1,821 mAh battery.

If we're honest, we'd look at choosing an Android phone at the same price point over the iPhone 8 — it's seriously fallen behind the times since its launch two years ago.

Verdict: It might only cost $449 but we'd buy the Google Pixel 3a over it in a heartbeat.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Small and handy

Cons

  • Small, low-resolution screen
  • Small battery
  • Single rear camera

Buy the iPhone 8 

From Verizon

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro Max

The two most expensive iPhones going head-to-head. Frankly, if you want the last word in iPhones, the XS Max is the phone for you. Its screen is significantly larger, with a higher resolution but no loss of sharpness. You also get a noticeably bigger battery.

However, both phones feature the same camera tech, the same processor and the same software. So, is the 11 Pro Max's bigger screen and longer battery life worth the extra $100? Well, lets put it this way. You're already spending a grand on a phone – if price is an issue, should you really be looking at the 11 Pro? There are loads of good, cheap phones out there.

There is one more caveat, though. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is significantly larger than the Pro model. The 6.5-inch screen is enormous, sure, but the real issue is the Pro Max's extra weight. At 226 grams or almost eight ounces, it's a hefty piece of kit to have in your pocket or bag at all times. Given that the iPhone 11 Pro doesn't lose out on performance or camera tech, we'd save ourselves $100 and leave the heavy lifting for the gym, and buy the cheaper phone instead.

Verdict: Both phones are fantastic, but we'd find the 11 Pro easier to live with every day.

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 11

The 11 is Apple's new “budget” iPhone, coming in at a reasonably low $699. Given its similarities in appearance to the iPhone 11 Pro, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the regular iPhone 11 was one of the bargain phones of the year.

The 11 gives you a larger, but less sharp screen than the 11 Pro and you have to make do without the 11 Pro's third rear camera — you get an ultra wide and wide angle lens on the 11, while the 11 Pro gets a telephoto lens for better zooming and detail. However, you get the same 12Mp depth-sensing front camera on both phones.

But, you pay $300 less for the iPhone 11 than the iPhone 11 Pro — that's a lot of money. Think of all the lovely things you could take slightly poorer pictures of with that $300…

Verdict: The 11 Pro is a great phone and you'll notice the improved screen quality but that $300 could be enough to make you think twice

Which iPhone Has the Best Camera?

iPhones nearly always have good cameras, so we're pretty confident that whichever iPhone you get will be able to take decent pictures. However, there was a sense that Apple had fallen behind the likes of Google and Huawei in the photo stakes, so can the addition of the a telephoto lens bring the latest iPhones back up to speed?

Rear cameras

Here's the lowdown on the cameras on the latest iPhones.

The 11 Pro and Pro Max have the exactly the same rear cameras: A telephoto lens for better zoom and detail shots, a wide angle lens for run of the mill photography, and an ultra wide lens for capturing broad vistsas or adding an arty fisheye effect to your latest Instagram post.

The iPhone 11, on the other hand, has to make do with the wide and ultra-wide angle lenses.

Front cameras

The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max all have exactly the same front camera: A 12Mp depth-sensing lens which will take care of everything from cringe-inducing Snapchat videos on a night out, to FaceID unlocking, and fancy Portrait Mode shots.

Until now, we hadn't really seen a huge update on iPhone front cameras since Apple introduced the 7Mp depth sensor lens on 2017's iPhone X. So, if you're really into selfies, the iPhone 11 lineup is the way to go.

Which iPhone has a Dual Camera?

The dual rear camera was introduced in recent years to the iPhone line-up, but not all models have it. Don't forget, though, that the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max have three rear cameras.

Treble cameras:

  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max

Dual cameras:

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s Plus

Single cameras:

  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone SE

Which iPhone has the Best Battery Life?

iPhones normally get slandered for their battery life compared to leading Android models. However, Apple decided to increase the size of the batteries on the latest iPhones quite significantly.

So, this is how the current generation (plus the iPhone XS from last year) square up in the battery life stakes.

iPhone 11 ProiPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone 11iPhone XS
Battery size (mAh)3,0463,9693,1102,658
Video playbackUp to 18 hoursUp to 20 hoursUp to 17 hoursUp to 14 hours
Audio playbackUp to 65 hoursUp to 80 hoursUp to 65 hoursUp to 60 hours

Confusing, right?

The iPhone 11 Pro has a smaller battery than the iPhone 11 but manages to squeeze out an extra hour of battery life. How?

It's down to the iPhone 11's screen. At 6.1-inches, it's slightly larger than the 5.8-inch display on the iPhone 11 Pro. Plus, it's an LCD display which are less power efficient than OLED displays.

However, if you want to get the iPhone with the best battery life, you should get the 11 Pro Max. Its battery is significantly larger than any other iPhone on sale and consequently has a much longer battery life.

Which iPhone is the Best Value for Money?

We reckon the best value iPhone you can buy at the moment is the iPhone XR. You'll get a good-looking phone with snappy performance, a decent screen, and strong cameras.

But, for $100, you could get the newer iPhone 11. This is the problem with iPhones, they're all so close in specs and price, you can, without thinking, find yourself heading down a slippery slope to a $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max.

If you want to spend as little as possible and still have an iPhone, though, you'll need to get an iPhone 8 — these now start at just $449. It's not a bad phone but it does feel behind the times nowadays.

In truth, you need to consider what you need from an iPhone. If you just want a new iPhone, we'd recommend the iPhone XR. However, if we were buying an iPhone, we'd probably go for the newer iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro to take advantage of the improved battery life and upgraded cameras.

Verdict: All told, the XR is almost certainly the best value iPhone on sale today. However, with the improved iPhone 11 not costing too much more, it might be the better option.

Is a Refurbished iPhone Worth It?

The only iPhone available on Apple's certified refurbished scheme is the iPhone X. These models are a fair bit cheaper than they were at launch and actually look fairly tempting:

  • iPhone X 64GB – $679
  • iPhone X 256GB – $809

At $679, the iPhone X, is far from a bad deal. However, the newer iPhone 11 costs just $20 more. We'd steer clear of the 256GB model, however, $809 for a refurbished two year-old phone is, frankly, a bit much.

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.