- Heres a quick look at our top recommendations:
- Here are the best iPhones
- The best iPhone overall
- The best small iPhone
- The best premium iPhone
- The best big premium iPhone
- The best budget iPhone
- The best big budget iPhone
- The best premium iPhone overall for less
- The best small premium iPhone for less
- The best big premium iPhone for less
- The iPhone XS is still a decent purchase, but only at a really good discount.
- Dont bother with the iPhone X/8 series anymore
- The best inexpensive Android alternatives
- Buying advice for current iPhone owners
- Here are some key things to know before you decide which iPhone to buy:
- The iPhone 12 has the right combination of features and affordability for most people.
- The iPhone 12 Pro is worth it if you want the best camera possible on a compact phone.
- But dont forget about the iPhone 11, which is still a great deal at its new lower price.
With seven iPhone models available through Apple, from the new iPhone 12 to the more than two-year-old iPhone XR, there are plenty of options out there for Apple fans. Luckily, the new features in iOS 15 â€“ such as the ability to fine-tune notifications, spatial audio in FaceTime, and live text recognition among many others â€“ will be available on all of the phones in this list.
Like most purchasing decisions, which model is right for you largely depends on your needs when it comes to pricing, size options, and features. Those who care a lot about aesthetics should note that Apple recently announced a purple version of the iPhone 12 , adding to its already colorful lineup.
In addition to helping you choose the right iPhone model, well also tell you which models you should stay away from.
Heres a quick look at our top recommendations:
- For most people, we highly recommend the iPhone 12, which costs a relatively reasonable $799 but still includes the most important new tech on any phone: the latest processor.
- The 2020 iPhone SE is the cheapest iPhone you can buy at $400, and its also one of the smallest.
- Apple still sells the iPhone 11, and its a tempting purchase with its new price tag. It now costs $599, and for that price youre not missing out on much.
- The iPhone XR from 2018 costs $499, making it another budget-friendly option for those who want a much bigger screen, longer battery life, and Face ID.
Why should you listen to us? Weve personally reviewed every iPhone since the iPhone 6 in a professional capacity as tech writers and editors. We also have a team of seasoned tech reporters who have owned or used iPhones since the first model was introduced. Below, find some general iPhone buying tips from those years of experience.
Here are the best iPhones
- Best iPhone overall: iPhone 12
- Best small iPhone: iPhone 12 Mini
- Best premium iPhone: iPhone 12 Pro
- Best big premium iPhone: iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Best budget iPhone: iPhone SE (2020)
- Best big budget iPhone: iPhone XR
- Best premium iPhone overall for less: iPhone 11
- Best small premium iPhone for less: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best big premium iPhone for less: iPhone 11 Pro Max
The best iPhone overall
The iPhone 12 has the best balance of performance, features, and design for the price, and its the model most people should go for.
Pros: New design looks elegant and makes the iPhone 12 easier to hold; Better low-light camera and night mode on all lenses; OLED display on the standard model looks sharp and crisp; 5G will keep the iPhone 12 relevant for years to come
Cons: Widely deployed 5G networks arent much faster than LTE today; No fingerprint sensor; No always-on display; Night mode selfies arent very sharp
The iPhone 12 is the best iPhone for the vast majority of people with its $799 price tag. It poses the best value in relation to specs, features, and design compared to the Pro models.
It also comes in a variety of colors, including the newly announced purple, which is available for preorder on April 23 and launches on April 30. The iPhone 12 otherwise comes in black, blue, green, white, and (Product) Red models.
Fans of the iPhone will notice that the new model costs $100 more than the $699 iPhone 11 did at launch. We consider $700 to be a better price (obviously), but the iPhone 12 includes extra features that the iPhone 11 lacks. These include 5G support, a ceramic shield coating for increased durability, an OLED display with better contrast, and support for Apples new MagSafe connection system for chargers and accessories.
Running on Apples latest A14 Bionic chip, the iPhone 12 has the hardware most people need for daily and extended usage for $300 less than the top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro, and for $400 less than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The iPhone 12 has a range of features in common with the Pro models, including a dual camera system with an ultrawide lens, a metal frame, and IP68 water resistance.
There are few compromises by going with the iPhone 12 over the Pro models. What you dont get with the standard iPhone 12 is the third telephoto zoom lens, the new ProRAW photo mode for advanced photo controls, or the LiDAR scanner for better portrait shots.
Apples $799 cost is a good price for the iPhone 12, and you can make it more affordable by finding the iPhone 12 for a deal.
Originally $799.00Save 15%
The best small iPhone
The iPhone 12 Mini is exactly what it sounds like â€” a smaller version of the standard iPhone 12, and its for iPhone users who like more compact designs and smaller screens.
Pros: Compact design makes it easy to use with one hand; Excellent camera; Elegant revamped design compared to last years iPhones; Sharp and vibrant OLED display; 5G support will keep the iPhone 12 Mini relevant in the future
Cons: Smaller size means you compromise on battery life; No fingerprint sensor; No always-on display; Nationwide 5G networks arent much faster than todays 4G LTE.
The iPhone 12 Mini is a smaller and more affordable version of the iPhone 12 and is available in all of the same colors, including the newly announced purple.
The only difference is that the iPhone 12 Mini has 5.4-inch display compared to the iPhone 12s 6.1-inch screen.
That smaller size also means the iPhone 12 Minis battery life is noticeably shorter than the iPhone 12s. After a full days worth of use (9.5 hours), the iPhone 12 Minis battery was down to 23% during my testing. The larger iPhone 12, by comparison, had 34% of its battery left after about 15 hours of use.
Still, its the best choice for iPhone owners that have been holding onto their older device because theyre reluctant to upgrade to todays large-screened devices.
Apart from screen size and battery life, everything is the same, including the A14 Bionic chip, a dual camera system with an ultrawide lens, a Super Retina XDR OLED display, ceramic shield screen glass, 5G support, wireless charging and MagSafe support, a metal frame, and IP68 water resistance.
However, it remains unclear how big the audience for a smaller-sized iPhone actually is, considering data from Counterpoint Research suggests demand for the iPhone 12 Mini has been weak.
Originally $499.99Save 10%
Originally $699.99Save 29%
The best budget iPhone
The new iPhone SE (2020) is undeniably the best value for an iPhone, as it runs on the same powerful chip as the iPhone 11 series, but youre only getting a single-lens camera.
Pros: Excellent price, excellent performance, budget access to Apples ecosystem
Cons: Battery life could be better, outdated design, single camera system
Theres no doubt about it â€” if you want an iPhone for under $500, the $399.00 iPhone SE is the way to go. It handily takes over the reins from the $599.00 iPhone XR as the best budget iPhone due to the powerful A13 Bionic mobile chip, which also spins the wheels in the iPhone 11 series.
The iPhone SE has an LCD, 4.7-inch, Retina HD screen. Thats to say its not the best in Apples arsenal, but its similar to the excellent screen on the iPhone XR. Its design is almost identical to the iPhone 8, a classic iPhone form factor. It comes in black, white, and red color options.
You get a 12-megapixel single-lens camera with portrait mode, depth control (adjusting background blur after taking a photo), portrait lighting, Smart HDR, and a decent gamut of high-end camera features, especially for an iPhone that costs $399.00.
Unfortunately, you dont get a zoomed lens or an ultra-wide lens, and thats arguably one of the biggest compromises with the iPhone SE. Compared to Apples larger and pricier iPhones, the iPhone SE also has shorter battery life.
Originally $399.99Save 13%
Originally $399.00Save 13%
The best big budget iPhone
The $499 iPhone XR is the best cheapest big-screened iPhone you can get if you can find a good deal for it.
Pros: Big screen, modern iPhone design, fun colors, good cameras, FaceID, wireless charging
Cons: Runs on two-year-old chip, expensive for older specs and features, hard to use one-handed, glass is fragile, no headphone jack or adapter in box
The $499 iPhone XR isnt that much cheaper than the $599 iPhone 11, and you might as well get the latter if youre going to spend over $500.
The iPhone XR runs on 2018s A12 Bionic mobile, the same chip in the iPhone XS series. That means it offers great performance, but its still over two years old. Apple also still supports the XR in its recently announced iOS 15 update, which will bring a bunch of new features to the iPhone when it launches later this year.
Among other upgrades, spending an extra $100 on the iPhone 11 will get you the faster A13 Bionic chip and an ultra-wide angle camera compared to the single-lens camera on the iPhone XR.
If you dont mind its smaller size, get the $399 iPhone SE and save that $100 you were going to spend on the XR for a pair of AirPods. Spending $100 less on the iPhone SE will also get you the faster chip from the iPhone 11 series, although youll be sacrificing Face ID and a larger screen.
The iPhone XS is still a decent purchase, but only at a really good discount.
The iPhone XS still offers decent performance and a great screen, but its aging quickly.
Pros: OLED screen looks crisp, dual camera, modern features like Face ID
Cons: No headphone jack, no longer sold by Apple and not always found with a deal
The iPhone XS isnt necessarily an unwise purchase, but its only worth buying if you can get it at an excellent discount. It offers a large OLED screen, a dual-camera setup with wide and telephoto lenses, and Face ID.
It runs on the A12 Bionic processor that Apple launched in 2018, which is the same chip powering the newest entry-level iPad. That means it should offer smooth performance for now. But since that chip is already two generations old, it might not be the best investment if youre looking for a long-term phone to keep for multiple years.
As such, we only recommend purchasing it if youre able to find it at a very low price, ideally for the same cost or lower than the iPhone XR. Otherwise, youre probably better off considering the iPhone 11 or iPhone SE.
Dont bother with the iPhone X/8 series anymore
With the iPhone SE and iPhone XR offering good value, theres little justification for buying the iPhone X or iPhone 8. You should also avoid buying any iPhone model older than these because the tech inside will soon be obsolete.
If youre looking to pay a lot less for a good iPhone, your best bets are going to be the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR rather than some of the older models like the iPhone X and iPhone 8.
Chances are youll be overspending on those iPhones, even if you can find a deal that looks tempting. Plus, you may not even find these in new condition anymore.
As for even older iPhones like the iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 6 generations, theres a good reason Apple doesnt sell them anymore. These phones are now several years old and have aging tech inside, which will likely result in slow performance.
The processor and RAM are from three-to-four years ago, and are therefore likely unequipped to handle new software and apps. Your battery life is also likely to take a hit because the phone will be working harder to accomplish even simple tasks like connecting to your cell network.
Some of these phones ( iPhone 6S and higher) can still get the latest software update of iOS 15, but theres a chance it could be the last software update some of these phones may ever get. That means youll have an old â€” and therefore much less secure â€” version of iOS.
The best inexpensive Android alternatives
Instead of getting an older iPhone, consider a cheaper Android phone.
Our top picks for affordable Android phones are the $350 Google Pixel 4a and $500 Pixel 4a 5G. They have high-quality cameras that are capable of capturing impressive images rivaling those of the new iPhone 12 â€” especially in low-light conditions.
They run a simple and easy-to-navigate version of Android and get regular software updates. Check out our full review of the Pixel 4a here.
Other great choices include the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, OnePlus 7T and Motorola G Power.
- Samsungs $500 Galaxy A52 5G has the look and feel of a premium Galaxy phone for significantly less. It comes with a vivid 6.5-inch Super AMOLED screen with a high refresh rate, 5G support, a quad-lens camera system and a 32-megapixel selfie camera, and long battery life. The Galaxy A52 5G doesnt have the fastest processor, but it still brings a lot of value for a $500 phone.
- The $349 OnePlus 7T was the best premium high-end smartphone running on the latest and most powerful specs in 2019. At its current price, its an incredible deal if youre looking for something with a more premium design and faster performance than the Pixel 3a series. The major caveat is that its only fully compatible with T-Mobiles network.
- The Motorola G Power costs $250 and offers a lot of value for the price, with a large 6.4-inch screen and massive 5,000mAh battery that can easily give you more than two-days worth of use. Check out the Moto G Power review here.
Buying advice for current iPhone owners
Heres who should (and shouldnt) upgrade, and which iPhone we recommend for you:
- If you have an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max: Theres no reason to upgrade unless you specifically like to have the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer. If so, consider whether you can afford it after buying your iPhone 11 within the last year. If you have Apples iPhone upgrade plan, go ahead. By the way, 5G isnt a good reason to upgrade yet, so dont let that be the sole reason to upgrade.
- If you have an iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR: Performance is likely still fine for most peoples needs. If battery life is an issue, you could get your battery replaced for less than the cost of a new iPhone. If youre a conservative spender, youre not missing out on anything that will dramatically improve the core experience of using an iPhone. If youre looking for better photography, the iPhone 12 would be a worthy upgrade.
- If you have an iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus: If youre conservative with your spending, you could hang on to your iPhone for another year without much issue. If battery life is a concern, you can replace it for less than the cost of a new iPhone. That said, an upgrade to the iPhone 12 is completely reasonable if youve noticed that performance is slower than your liking. iPhone 8 owners will also benefit from a big jump in camera quality,, the newer designs with better screen-to-body ratios for bigger screens in similarly sized phones, and Face ID.
- If you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, or older: Its time. These phones are likely stuttering and wont last much longer. Youll get a massive upgrade in every aspect by going with the iPhone 12 series.
How should you buy your new iPhone?
- Tech enthusiast? Join the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. Youll basically rent your phone with monthly payments, and you can upgrade to a new one after 12 payments. If you do that, you end up paying half price for the phone and you get a new one every year without hemming and hawing over the cost. T-Mobile has a similar offer, in which you can upgrade as soon as youve paid off half of the phones entire balance.
- Tech-savvy traveler? Buy your iPhone unlocked so you can pop in local SIM cards when you travel abroad. To do this, buy from Apple, preferably through the iPhone Upgrade Program. Alternatively, you can buy from T-Mobile or Sprint because they have free international service in 100+ countries.
- Budget hunter?Budget hunter? Check out all the carrier promotions and maybe wait a few months to buy your new iPhone. The cheapest new iPhone is the iPhone 12 Mini for $699. You can also get the iPhone 11 for $599, or the iPhone SE for $399. You could also jump ahead to our Android alternatives section in this buying guide for more cheaper smartphone options.
Is now a good time to buy?
Yes. The iPhone 12 lineup is still relatively new. Older iPhones that are still relevant, like the iPhone 11 series, also have lower price tags. You can get good deals on the 2019 iPhone 11 lineup at many carriers â€” especially if you can get a trade-in rebate.
But if you hold out much longer, its best to wait for the next-generation iPhone. The late summer is the worst time to buy a new iPhone because Apple is usually on the cusp of debuting the newest model in the fall. Even if you dont care about having the newest iPhone, you can usually find better deals on the current generation iPhone once the updated version launches.
Here are some key things to know before you decide which iPhone to buy:
- Processor and RAM: The processor and memory (RAM) are the two most important parts of any phone. They determine how smoothly it runs and works through intense tasks like gaming or multitasking. The newer your iPhone, the better the processing power and RAM. Thats why we recommend you buy the most recent iPhone models and we dont recommend any iPhones from more than three years ago.
- Storage space: Storage is also incredibly important because the amount of storage you have determines how many photos, songs, videos, and apps you can have downloaded on your phone. Apples recent iPhones come with at least 64GB at the base level, which should be plenty of space for most users that take a moderate amount of photos and videos. The newest phones start at 64GB, which is a respectable amount of space.
- Screen size: iPhones have come in several screen sizes over the years: 4.7 inches (iPhone 8/2020 iPhone SE), 5.5 inches (iPhone 8 Plus), 5.8 inches (iPhone 11 Pro and XS), 6.1 inches (iPhone 11 and XR), and 6.2 inches (iPhone 11 Pro Max and XS Max). Phones with small screen sizes have smaller physical bodies, which are easier to hold. Phones in Apples Max and Plus line are the largest,, although Max devices have a much bigger screen compared to phones like the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to their bezel-less design.
- Battery life: Most iPhones â€” and smartphones in general â€” dont have great battery life. In general, the smaller the iPhone, the worse the battery life. So if you dont mind having a larger-sized phone that comes at a higher price, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the iPhone to get if battery life is your top priority. However, Apples medium-sized phones like the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and iPhone 11 still offer battery life thats typically capable of getting you through a full day without searching for a charger.
- Ports (or lack thereof): All iPhones have a Lightning port for charging, but all iPhones since the iPhone 7 lack the 3.5mm headphone jack. That means you cant plug in your wired headphones or other accessories unless you buy the adapter or use the Lightning earbuds that once came with your new iPhone (Apple recently stopped including earbuds and power adapters in its packaging). We recommend you get a nice pair of wireless headphones.
- Software: Apple provides updates to its iPhones for about four years or more after their release, so theoretically, you can have your iPhone up to date for years before you should buy a new one. Always update your software to get important security patches and new features. You may experience slowdown on older devices, but iPhones typically hold up well.
- Price: Consider your purchase an investment. Your smartphone is more than a communication device â€” its your camera, your computer, your photo album, your music player, and your gaming console, too. A good smartphone can last you for years, but a cheap one with poor specs will be outdated more quickly, and youll end up spending more in the long run. That $1,000 price tag on the iPhone 12 Pro looks less scary when you consider that it could last you for four to five years.
- How to buy: You can get an iPhone from your carrier by paying full price or paying in monthly installments. You can also buy one at stores like Target and Best Buy or directly from Apple. We recommend you buy it from Apple unlocked so you can switch carriers any time you choose. The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program lets you get a new iPhone every year so long as youve made 12 monthly payments on your current phone. Its basically like renting your smartphone so you can upgrade all the time. Some carriers, like T-Mobile, offer a similar program.
Senior Tech Reporter
Antonio is a senior tech reporter for Insiders Reviews team, where he helps lead coverage, reviews, and guides of smartphones, tablets, accessories, wearables, smart home products, as well as audio devices from Apple, Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and other major tech companies. Before joining Business Insider, Antonio was a consumer-electronics analyst at PCMag. He graduated from Colgate University in 2009 with a bachelors degree in history. You can contact Antonio with tips and cool tech via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Learn more about how we test tech and electronics.
Lead Training Coordinator
Malarie Gokey is the lead training coordinator on the managing editor team at Insider. She works with the director of editorial training to develop trainings, workshops, panels, and other educational resources for the newsroom. In 2017, she joined Insider to create a brand-newÂ buying guides section for the Reviews team with all the best products you can buy online. As guides editor, Malarie edited and published more than 1,500 buying guides. She also served as the Reviews teams first deputy editor, overseeing multiple teams, leading strategy, and managing freelance operations. Learn more about how the Reviews team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Previously, Malarie was the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends. She led tech coverage for DT at major tech conferences, including CES, IFA, and MWC. She spoke on panels at CES and Digg South, and she has also appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, Good Morning America, and Cheddar to discuss trends in technology. Apple CEO Tim Cook once quoted a line about the Apple Watch from her guide to the best smartwatches during a keynote presentation. Malarie is also an artist and speaks three languages (so far).Â Drop her a line atÂ email@example.comÂ or on Twitter @MalarieGokey. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.
Senior Tech Correspondent
Lisa is a senior tech correspondent for Business Insiders Reviews team, where she helps lead our coverage of the latest tech products from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other major tech companies. She previously served as Time magazines tech columnist and got her start as a reporter for Business Insiders tech section in 2014. Before that, she was staff writer for Laptop Mag and Toms Guide in 2013. She has appeared on the BBC, CNBC, and CBS New York radio to discuss the latest tech news. See below for some of her work.
- Ive been reviewing fitness gadgets for 8 years. Amazons Halo made me confront my body in a way I wasnt ready for.
- Inside Apples ambitious next decade, where it could redefine consumer tech with a VR headset, foldable iPhone, and even an Apple Car
- How Apples push to rule the smartphone industry has made Apple Store employees feel like robots
- Apples next big thing could one day be an all-recylced iPhone. Environmental boss Lisa Jackson tells us about the ambitious plan to get there.
- The most exciting new tech gadgets of 2020 are designed for the future, not today
- How Boston Dynamics robots went from YouTube stars to actual tools for helping doctors treat coronavirus patients and enforcing social distancing
- Amazon paid $97 million to acquire Eero in a fire-sale deal that left some shareholders with practically nothing, according to leaked documents