You’ve made the decision to buy a new iPhone, but that decision isn’t as simple as it once was: while it was once a case of simply deciding on storage capacity and colour, now there are multiple models of iPhone available, each with its pros and cons.

So, which is the best iPhone to buy right now? In truth, it’ll depend a lot on what you want to get out of your smartphone. 

iPhones come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of camera options and other unique features that set them apart from the Android competition, and here, we’ve ranked the best iPhones currently available to buy. 

Best iPhone 2021

1

iPhone 13 Pro - Best overall

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
  • Pros
    • 120Hz ProMotion display
    • Triple-camera setup on rear
    • Stainless steel & glass design
  • Cons
    • Expensive

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best iPhone for most people right now. It offers key improvements over the iPhone 12 Pro in terms of performance, battery and camera, and unlike last year, there aren't any differences between the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max aside from screen size, meaning you no longer need to spend money on the largest iPhone to get the premium features.

One of the key new features is the 120Hz ProMotion display - something iOS owners have been looking forward to for quite some time, and it's impressive too. The adaptive refresh rate can ramp up to a buttery-smooth 120Hz when scrolling and playing games, and drop down to as little as 10Hz when it can to save on battery life. The display is also brighter than ever, ideal for outdoor use. 

There are also improvements in the triple camera setup on the rear, including a main 12Mp snapper with sensor-shift OIS tech previously exclusive to the 12 Pro Max, along with improved f/1.5 aperture for better low-light photography. There are similar low-light improvements to the wide-angle camera, which doubles up as a macro camera, and a boosted telephoto lens now offering a 3x optical zoom. 

Like the rest of the iPhone 13 range, you'll find the A15 Bionic, paired with a minimum 128GB of base storage, going all the way up to 1TB. Performance is top-notch too, as with the iPhone 13. Really, there's not a lot to like when it comes to the iPhone 13 Pro, aside from the high starting price.

Read our full Apple iPhone 13 Pro review

2

iPhone 13 Pro Max - Best for battery life

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • Pros
    • Longest battery life of any iPhone
    • Gorgeous 120Hz 6.7in display
    • Great camera performance
  • Cons
    • Very expensive
    • Large, bulky form factor

Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro Max, there are differences between it and the iPhone 13 Pro, making it a slightly less tempting option this time if you aren't a fan of the large display it offers.

It's a big 6.7in Super Retina XDR OLED display with the same 120Hz ProMotion tech as the iPhone 13 Pro, able to jump between 10- and 120Hz depending on what you're doing. There's also the same A15 Bionic at its heart, although with a suspected bump in RAM compared to the other models. 

Like the iPhone 13 Pro, it's the camera department where the iPhone 13 Pro Max shines. Sporting a 12Mp main snapper with the same sensor-shift OIS and wider f/1.5 aperture, the 13 Pro Max is capable of taking great photos both during the day and at night. It also benefits from improvements to the ultrawide and telephoto lens, and there's Apple ProRaw video recording available for pro-level videographers too. 

Where the iPhone 13 Pro Max truly shines is in the battery department; it offers an extra 2 hours compared to the already-impressive 12 Pro Max, beating not only every iPhone before it, but keeping up with some of the best Android competition too. 

The downside is that the larger display and battery means the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a bit of a beast to hold one-handed, and it's noticeably heavier too. Pair that with the added starting cost and the fact that there isn't anything unique about this year's Pro Max, it's only for those that really want the large display. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review

3

iPhone 13 - Best for most people

Apple iPhone 13
  • Pros
    • Gorgeous design
    • Great battery life
    • Impressive performance
  • Cons
    • 60Hz display
    • No telephoto lens

The iPhone 13 is the ideal option for most people. It sports the same general form factor as the iPhone 13 Pro, albeit with an aluminium band in place of the more premium stainless steel, boasting a similar level of performance with the same A15 Bionic chipset at its heart.

There's also great camera performance, sporting the Sensor-Shift OIS previously exclusive to the top-end iPhone 12 Pro Max, and there's a 2-hour jump in battery life compared to its predecessor too.

But while the overall experience is improved, there are certain areas where the iPhone 13 is lacking. It's capped at 60Hz, down from 120Hz on the Pro models, and while you'll get an ultrawide camera with macro photography capabilities, you won't find a telephoto lens for close-up portrait shots. There's also a slower maximum charge speed to consider.

However, none of those are complete deal-breakers, and if you're not too fussed about having the very best of everything, the iPhone 13 is still a great flagship smartphone at an attractive price. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 13 review

4

iPhone 13 mini - Best small-screen iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 mini
  • Pros
    • Perfect small-screen experience
    • No compromise on performance
    • Great cameras
  • Cons
    • 60Hz display
    • Small battery gains
    • Slower MagSafe charging

If the 6.1in display of the iPhone 13 is a little too big for your liking, the iPhone 13 mini is the iPhone for you.

It offers the same iPhone experience as the standard model, complete with an A15 Bionic at its heart, Apple's Super Retina XDR display (albeit at a smaller 5.4in) and improved main and ultrawide lenses, sporting sensor-shift OIS like the more premium models, but in a much smaller form factor.

The iPhone 13 mini is the perfect iPhone to use one-handed, but the smaller display also means it's not the best suited to watching YouTube videos and movies on Netflix.

The small dimensions mean that while battery life has improved compared to the 12 Mini, it can't quite compete with the larger models overall. It also still suffers from the same capped 12W MagSafe charging, compared to 15W from the rest of the range. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 13 mini review

5

iPhone 12 - Still a great smartphone

Apple iPhone 12
  • Pros
    • Great performance
    • Super Retina XDR OLED display
    • More affordable than ever
  • Cons
    • No telephoto lens
    • Can't record [email protected] Dolby Vision HDR video
    • Middling battery life

The iPhone 12 is our favourite of the entire iPhone 12 range, and it's even more tempting now that it has been reduced in the wake of the iPhone 13 release.

The iPhone 12 offers a significant upgrade from the iPhone 11, not only sporting a refreshed angular look reminiscent of the iPhone 5, but the same Super Retina XDR OLED display tech as the iPhone 12 Pro range. 

At the heart of the iPhone 12 you'll find Apple's A14 Bionic. It offers significant upgrades on the already capable A13 Bionic, and our benchmark results back that up. Despite being a year old, it's still one of the most powerful smartphones on the market.  

You don't get the triple-lens setup of the Pro models, lacking the 2x telephoto lens, but you do get a 12Mp wide sensor with decent low-light performance, and the ultra-wide remains just as great as it was on the iPhone 11. You even get access to the same Dolby Vision HDR video recording tech as the Pro models, albeit capped at 30fps.

You will get better battery life, faster performance and camera upgrades with the iPhone 13, but with the iPhone 12 dropping in price, the upgrade is easier to justify than ever. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 12 review

6

iPhone 12 mini - A cheaper small-screen iPhone

iPhone 12 mini
  • Pros
    • Compact design
    • Affordable
    • Gorgeous OLED display
  • Cons
    • 12W limit on MagSafe charging
    • Limited battery life

If you're put off by the giant screens of the iPhone 12, it's likely that the iPhone 12 mini will be the model for you. It might not sound too small, sporting a 5.4in display, but thanks to the bezel-less design, it's actually a little smaller than the iPhone SE. Smaller design, more screen real estate - what's not to like?

Size aside, it's near-identical to the iPhone 12, sporting the same Super Retina XDR OLED display tech, A14 Bionic processor, dual-camera setup, 5G connectivity and support for MagSafe accessories, albeit at a slightly reduced wireless charging speed of 12W. 

It's also the cheapest variant of iPhone 12 still available now that the iPhone 13 range is here, sealing the deal for those on the hunt for a small-screen iPhone. 

Read our full iPhone 12 mini review

7

iPhone 11 - A solid performer

Apple iPhone 11
  • Pros
    • Solid performer
    • Similar camera tech to iPhone 12
    • Affordable
  • Cons
    • No OLED display tech
    • Old form factor

The iPhone 11 didn't need to rewrite the smartphone rule book to be a winner - it simply needed to build on the success of the Xr, and it has done exactly that.

The standard iPhone 11 sports a nice design with a glass rear and comes in various finishes. Face ID is faster than ever and the niche telephoto lens of the iPhone XS range has been swapped for a more useful ultra-wide-angle lens.

Unlike the iPhone 12, the 6.1in display isn't OLED, but it still offers a decent experience and, with the same A13 chipset as the 11 Pro range, performance is top-notch here - even when playing demanding games like Oceanhorn 2.

Read our full Apple iPhone 11 review

8

iPhone SE - Best value iPhone

Apple iPhone SE (2020)
  • Pros
    • A13 Bionic chipset
    • Reliable camera performance
    • Touch ID
  • Cons
    • Dated design
    • Surprisingly short battery life
    • 720p LCD display

The iPhone SE is a phone devoted to function over form, prioritising raw performance and camera capabilities over design or aesthetics, all in the name of hitting the budget market. With the A13 Bionic and a single 12Mp rear snapper, the iPhone SE looks to offer flagship-level performance for around half the price, and largely succeeds.

However, the focus on performance over design makes it a very un-Apple iPhone, and there are a few disappointing elements including the rather budget 720p LCD display and the dated design. The biggest disappointment, however, is battery life - if you do need the small form factor of the iPhone SE, be prepared to carry a battery pack around all day. 

Still, if you want a reliable camera, fast performance, and guaranteed iOS updates for years to come without breaking the bank then this is the iPhone for you.

Read our full Apple iPhone SE (2020) review

It’s worth noting that older models, including the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and even the iPhone X are still available from third-party retailers looking to shift leftover stock.

What should I consider when buying an iPhone?

Screen size

One of the biggest deciding factors when on the market for an iPhone is the screen size you want, or most feel comfortable using - we don’t all have huge hands to use the iPhone 13 Pro Max one-handed, do we? 

If you’re suited to smaller displays, your best bet is the iPhone 13 mini with its 5.4in display. The 4.7in iPhone SE does technically have a smaller display, but it's actually slightly bigger than the 13 mini because it has much larger bezels.

It then jumps up to the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, both at 6.1in following a jump from the 11 Pro's 5.8in display. If you want the biggest display possible, you’d be better off with the iPhone 13 Pro Max at 6.7in.

Performance

Performance is another element to consider when buying an iPhone, as you’ll likely want to get the most out of your device - especially at Apple’s prices. The good news is that the entire iPhone range features either Apple’s A13, A14 or A15 Bionic chipset, guaranteeing great performance regardless of the model you opt for.

Cameras

If cameras are important to you, then you’ve got a tough decision to make as it’s one area where the iPhone collection differs greatly. If you want the best possible camera experience, the combination of a main 12Mp sensor, an ultra-wide sensor and telephoto sensor available on the iPhone 13 Pro range may be best for you. If you can live without the telephoto lens, you can opt for the standard iPhone 13, which features similar main and ultra-wide cameras as the Pro models.

The iPhone SE has a single 12Mp camera on the rear, meaning it’s quite limited compared to the more recent iPhones. The single lens will do if you’re not too fussed about photography, but don’t expect the same level of detail on offer from Apple’s high-end options. 

Battery life

Traditionally, battery life has been a bit of a problem when it comes to iPhones, especially when compared to Android counterparts and their huge batteries. But with that said, Apple has come leaps and bounds over the past couple of years when it comes to battery life, with the 13 Pro Max offering all-day battery life with average use - and then some - and it’s a similar story with the rest of the iPhone 13 range.

Battery capacity is somewhat tied to display size, as that’ll dictate how large the battery can be, but battery life is also improved by power-efficient chipsets. On the flip side, if battery is important to you, then you should stay well away from the iPhone SE - in our review, we noted how it’d struggle to provide 5 hours of screen time without needing a top-up. Yikes. 

5G

Apple introduced 5G support with the iPhone 12 range, so if you want the fastest connection speeds you'll have to buy one of the newer iPhones.

5G availability is still limited in many countries and regions, but remember that it is improving, so upgrading to 5G might be seen as futureproofing - so long as you expect to stick with the same iPhone for at least another two years.

Price

Of course, the biggest factor to consider is your budget: how much do you want to spend on your iPhone? The iPhone 13 Pro is a phenomenal smartphone, but starting at £999/$999, it should be - and that’s not even the most expensive iPhone available. That award goes to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which starts at £1,049/$1,099 and goes all the way up to £1,549/$1,599.

The iPhone 13’s £779/$799 price tag is much more attractive if you want flagship specs, and the 13 mini is even better at £679/$699. Meanwhile, the 12 has officially dropped down to £679/$699, and it's a similar story with the 12 mini at just £579/$599. The iPhone 11 has also dropped down to a tempting £489/$499.

The cheapest iPhone is the iPhone SE at £419/$399, and although it does offer the same A13 chipset as the iPhone 11 range, there’s a compromise not only in terms of battery life but other areas too.

But hey, if you want to get into the iOS ecosystem at the cheapest price possible, the iPhone SE could be the one to go for. 

Before you take the plunge, we recommend taking a look at our selection of the best smartphones right now to get a better understanding of the wider smartphone market and be sure you’re making the right decision. 

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