Technology

What is the best iPhone to buy? Every current model ranked

W

ith new iPhones arriving every year, it can be tricky to decide if you should upgrade.

Of course, Apple’s latest and greatest is an easy sell, especially for loyalists, but it typically comes with a chunky price tag at launch.

If you’re looking to save some cash, you may be better off settling for an older model as long as it suits your needs.

To help you choose your next iPhone, we’ve ranked every handset Apple currently offers, along with some extra models that have been discontinued but are still widely available. The lineup ranges from the 2020 iPhone 12 to the new iPhone 15, with pros and cons for each handset.

Will these past iPhone models support iOS 17?

In case you’re wondering, all of these models will be able to run iOS 17, the newest version of Apple’s mobile-operating system.

They are also 5G compatible, which is more widely available than ever and may even work with your existing SIM.

How much can you expect to spend?

Prices for these iPhones range from £449 to £1,139 at the time of writing, but they’re likely to shed some pounds in the coming days with the release of the iPhone 15.

The standard iPhone usually loses 22 per cent of its average value when the new model launches, and the Pro and Pro Max models lose 33 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively. That’s according to the latest analysis by price-comparison service PriceSpy.

What is the best iPhone model?

The best all-rounder

1. iPhone 13 (2021)

/ Apple

The iPhone 13 is the most-crowd pleasing of Apple’s smartphones thanks to its dazzling, 6.1-inch OLED screen, snappy processor, and camera improvements. Even after the iPhone 15 lands, it will only be two generations old, making it a solid option for those looking to upgrade from past models.

The handset packs the same processor as last year’s iPhone 14, which tests suggest is noticeably fast. Apple’s A15 chip has also improved the handset’s battery life compared to the iPhone 12. Plus, you get a great camera that can snap better photos at night, reduce blur, and shoot in Dolby Vision HDR.

Pros: Vivid screen, incredibly bright, snappy processor

Cons: No Plus size, lack of design updates

Buy now from £699 at John Lewis

The best iPhone to buy in 2023

2. iPhone 15 Pro Max (2023)

/ Apple

To justify its status as the most expensive iPhone ever, Apple has crammed the iPhone 15 Pro Max full of new features. Firstly, there’s the titanium design, making it lighter but just as strong as its predecessor. It also has the longest optical zoom on an iPhone thanks to its new 5x telephoto camera – for when you want to snap faraway subjects.

For its part, Apple is hyping the A17 Pro chip as the fastest smartphone processor on the market. But we’ll have to wait to test drive it before we can offer our opinion. Even the phone’s minor improvements could pay off, like the action button that replaces the mute switch and offers quick access to apps and tools. Of course, most of those improvements are also available on the iPhone 15 Pro, but the Max’s camera gives it the edge.

Pros: Probably the best iPhone camera, genuine design changes

Cons: Pricey

Pre-order now from £1,199 at Amazon

3. iPhone 15 Pro (2023)

Apple

On paper, the iPhone 15 Pro slightly lags the Pro Max due to the latter’s enhanced camera. But, if that’s not worth the extra £200 in your book, then the Pro is still an outstanding alternative. It should offer the same performance thanks to the A17 Pro chip. The smaller 6.1-inch display means it sits better in the hand than the bulky, 6.7-inch Pro Max. And, it has a virtually identical OLED screen and action button. The only other difference is the battery power. Apple says the Pro Max can handle a staggering 29 hours of video playback, while the Pro can manage a respectable 23 hours.

Pros: Upgraded performance, new camera, significantly cheaper than the Pro Max

Cons: Inferior telephoto camera and lower battery life compared to Pro Max

Pre-order now from £999 at Currys

4. iPhone 14 Pro (2022)

/ Apple

Apple’s high-end smartphones pack the real upgrades, and the iPhone 14 Pro is no different. In fact, most of its features have found their way into the iPhone 15. They include a detail-packed screen that offers 460 pixels-per-inch, an insane peak brightness of 2,000 nits, and a blazingly fast A16 chip. Despite those powerful upgrades, the battery is still said to last an entire day or more.

Elsewhere, the camera has a new 3x Telephoto zoom that lets you get closer to subjects than ever before. It can also shoot high-quality 4K video at up to 60 frames per second, with additional smoothing software for shaky clips.

Pros: Cutting-edge features, best iPhone for video, exceptional brightness

Cons: Expensive

Buy now from £1,039 at John Lewis

The best small iPhone

5. iPhone 13 Mini (2021)

Apple iPhone 13 Mini (pictured far right)

/ Apple

The iPhone 13 Mini is largely identical to the regular model, so you’re really only choosing between a 5.4-inch or 6.1-inch screen. If you like your phones more compact, this is the iPhone for you. In fact, the iPhone 13 Mini still holds its own against newer miniatures like it. But, with the same A15 chip crammed into its smaller frame, be prepared for a dip in battery life. If that’s a deal breaker, we’d recommend sticking with the standard iPhone 13.

Pros: Great build, reliable performance

Cons: Weaker battery life than the iPhone 13

Buy now from £604 at John Lewis

The best-value iPhone

6. iPhone SE 3 (2022)

/ Apple

The iPhone SE 3 offers remarkable value for money. Under the hood, it comes equipped with the same chip as the iPhone 13, meaning it should be just as fast.

Yes, you can get better image quality on most Android phones at this price, but that’s a moot point if you’re devoted to Apple. An even bigger caveat is the design: The iPhone SE looks a lot like the iPhone 8, right down to the thick borders and home button that houses the fingerprint sensor (no Face ID here, folks). What’s the point of upgrading if others don’t even notice the difference?

Durability also takes a hit as there’s no ceramic shield to guard against scratches. Still, at least it’s dust- and water-resistant. If it wasn’t for its dated looks, the iPhone SE 3 would definitely be higher on the list.

Pros: The cheapest current iPhone, solid chip

Cons: Old-school design, pared-back features

Buy now from £449 at Currys

7. iPhone 14 Pro Max (2022)

Apple

For £100 more than the 6.1-inch Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro Max gets you an enormous 6.7-inch screen with a slightly better resolution. Oh, and you also get a few more hours of battery life to boot. Otherwise, it shares most of the same characteristics as the Pro, including the same OLED display, the Dynamic Island, the A16 chip, and the beefier camera setup. It’s still the best Apple has to offer, but only ideal for those seeking a larger display.

Pros: Massive size, awesome screen, top-notch camera

Cons: Apple’s most expensive iPhone

Buy now from £1,139 at Currys

8. iPhone 15(2023)

Apple

The iPhone 15 offers four main upgrades over the iPhone 14: a USB-C port, an interactive screen cutout instead of a plain notch, and the same chip and 48MP camera as last year’s iPhone 14 Pro. All told, we can safely say that the new smartphone probably doesn’t deliver a massive leap over its predecessor (even if the screen and resolution are almost identical). The processing power will be marginally better and the USB-C port, while useful, doesn’t offer any added functionality over a lightning port. If you take a lot of photos, on the other hand, the improved camera will be worthwhile. As usual, Apple is promising even better-zoomed shots, low-light snaps, and stablisation across video and stills.

Pros: Better camera and processor

Cons: Overshadowed by the Pro models

Pre-order from £799 at Very

9. iPhone 14 (2022)

iPhone 14 and 14 Plus

/ Apple

The iPhone 14 doesn’t mess with its predecessor’s winning formula. It packs the same, impressive chip, the same peak brightness, and the same tried-and-tested design. Ultimately, that makes it harder to recommend over the iPhone 13.

As for actual upgrades, you get a newer camera that can pull off better video stabilisation for moving shots. But, if it’s great photos you’re after, we’d recommend forking out more for the iPhone 14 Pro and its optical zoom perks. Speaking of which, the Pro’s life-saving features are also available here, including emergency satellite communications and crash detection, but hopefully, you never have to use them.

Pros: Fast performance, shoots smooth videos

Cons: Incremental updates over the iPhone 13

Buy now from £764 at Currys

10. iPhone 12 (2020)

Apple

Buying an iPhone 12 in 2023 is a test for Apple’s famously long phone support. This one was released in 2020. Some manufacturers would be winding down update support by now. But Apple? We expect at least three more years.

However, thanks to its Apple A14 Bionic processor, it will stop getting updates before the iPhone 13. This phone also has a weaker main camera than the newer iPhone. It can still take brilliant photos, including at night, but video quality takes a hit in certain situations.

Thanks to the older hardware, battery life is slightly shorter than the iPhone 13’s, and the screen is less bright. Most of the time, the iPhone 12 will feel just like an iPhone 13 or iPhone 14, just not 24/7. But there’s enough change to justify the jump to a newer model for most.

Pros: Same design as newer versions, similar camera stills quality

Cons: Will lose support before newer models

Buy now from £599 at Very

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