Best iPhone 2021: which Apple phone is the top choice for you?
Choosing the best iPhone can be easier said than done, as while Apple doesn’t make as many phones as some companies, all of its handsets are excellent, and thanks to Apple’s policy of supporting phones for a long time, older models also remain viable for quite a while.Of course, most people will be looking at the iPhone 12 range, but even sticking with that there are four different phones, suited to different types of people, from the standard iPhone 12 itself to the premium iPhone 12 Pro, the big iPhone 12 Pro Max (which is an ‘ultra’ phone in all but name), and the tiny iPhone 12 mini.Beyond those, there’s the more affordable iPhone SE (2020), and then a selection of older iPhones – including the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, both of which Apple still sells, and a number of others which have been discontinued but can still be found in third-party stores.
So there are a lot of options, and that’s where this guides comes in, as we’ve ranked every iPhone that’s readily available from Apple or elsewhere. For each, we’ve included a specs list, an overview, and the key good and bad points, so you should be able to quickly work out which models are right for you – but for more in-depth details make sure to read our full reviews.
Now’s a good time to buy a new iPhone too, as the iPhone 13 range won’t land before September, and there may not be an iPhone SE 3 this year. With iOS 14.5 landing now too, the iPhone range also has recently refreshed software.Of course, if you’re not set on an Apple phone specifically then there are loads of other options. Click through to one of our guides below to see some of the best alternatives.
iPhone: which one should you buy today?
The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck
Weight: 164gDimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mmOS: iOS 14Screen size: 6.1-inchResolution: 1170 x 2532CPU: A14 BionicRAM: 4GBStorage: 64GB/128GB/256GBBattery: UnknownRear camera: 12MP+12MPFront camera: 12MP
REASONS TO BUY
+Colorful OLED display
+Future-proofed with 5G
REASONS TO AVOID
-Cameras are similar to last year
-Battery life only okay
More expensive than the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 makes up for that price hike with a wealth of new features that should prove useful in the coming months and years.
That includes future-proofing courtesy of 5G support and the addition of MagSafe connectivity which enables you to attach things to your phone such as a charger or a case. The camera might be a little too similar to last year’s iPhone and the battery life remains merely okay, but there’s no denying that the iPhone 12 is a superior beast than the phones that have come before.
Design wise, it’s returned to some of the stylings of the iPhone 4 or 5 and that’s actually a good thing, feeling comfier in your hands. There’s also the overdue switch to a colorful OLED display which reminds us again that Apple knows how to create a stylish looking as well as future-proof device. iPhone 12 mini
The same as above, but smaller
Weight: 135gDimensions: 131.5mm x 64.2mm x 7.4mmOS: iOS 14Screen size: 5.4-inchResolution: 1080 x 2340CPU: A14 BionicRAM: 4GBStorage: 64GB/128GB/256GBBattery: UnknownRear camera: 12MP+12MPFront camera: 12MPe, wireless charging is notably slower on the iPhone 12 mini – but otherwise you’re getting top-end spec such as the powerful rear camera, 5G support and MagSafe support as well.
The design makes this phone easy to hold in a single hand, so if you’ve been crying out for a smaller iPhone that doesn’t lose out on the top-end specs that you get from other Apple devices this may well be for you.
As with the iPhone 12, the display is also fantastic on this handset too. You may not enjoy the battery life as that isn’t fantastic on the iPhone 12 mini, but if that’s your main focus you’ll like one of the phones coming upiPhone 12 Pro
Our third favorite iPhone
Weight: 189gDimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mmOS: iOS 14Screen size: 6.1-inchResolution: 1170 x 2532CPU: A14 BionicRAM: 6GBStorage: 128GB/256GB/512GBBattery: UnknownRear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MPFront camera: 12MPREASONS TO BUY
+Varied color choices
+Clear and vibrant screen
REASONS TO AVOID
-No charging block in box
-5G still an expensive luxury
More advanced than the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro is also more expensive and has better specs than the standard model. The internals are better, and there’s a superior camera.
A fourth sensor alongside the standard iPhone 12 fare in the form of a LiDAR scanner makes it easier for the iPhone to work out what it’s looking at, doing a great job of detecting faces in low light situations.
The iPhone 12 Pro also has a RAM boost – up to 6GB from 4GB – and that’s sure to help you get the most from whatever you’re doing on your phone. If you’re looking to edit videos on your phone, the iPhone 12 Pro is ideal for such a purpose.
Elsewhere, it’s business as usual for the iPhone 12 Pro offering much of what the iPhone 12 already has for less, but if you want that extra oomph, it’s an impressive upgrade. iPhone 12 Pro Max
The very best iPhone when it comes to spec
Weight: 228gDimensions: 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mmOS: iOS 14Screen size: 6.7-inchResolution: 1284 x 2778CPU: A14 BionicRAM: 6GBStorage: 128GB/256GB/512GBBattery: UnknownRear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MPFront camera: 12MPREASONS TO BUY
+Long battery life
+Powerful rear camera
REASONS TO AVOID
-Feel too large
-Very, very expensive
After the very best iPhone that money can buy? The iPhone 12 Pro Max is exactly that, and we loved everything it can do. It takes a lot of what makes the three phones you can read about above and just tweaks a few elements to make it even better.
So why is it so low in our list of the best iPhones? This is an expensive handset, and the sheer size of this handset means it won’t be for everyone.
If you’re happy to spend money on it, and you want a phone with a mammoth 6.7-inch screen then you’ll be happy with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in your pocket. A lot of what we’ve said about the iPhone 12 Pro is true here, but there are a few benefits.
The battery life is better in the iPhone 12 Pro Max when compared to the other iPhones on this list, and you’ll also find it has a slightly more powerful rear camera than even the iPhone 12 Pro.
If you want the very best, you’ll have to pay for it. If you’re happy to, this is the best iPhone for you right now.iPhone 11
Once the very best iPhone
Weight: 194gDimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mmOS: iOS 13Screen size: 6.1-inchResolution: 828 x 1792CPU: A13 BionicRAM: 4GBStorage: 64/128/256GBBattery: UnknownRear camera: 12MP+12MPFront camera: 12MPREASONS TO BUY
+Fast speeds at a discount
+Ultrawide lens is far better than telephoto
REASONS TO AVOID
-Still an LCD screen
-Glass back attracts fingerprints
The iPhone 11 isn’t the highest-spec Apple phone, but it supersedes the iPhone XR ‘budget flagship’ in better ways to become the standout phone of its generation in terms of sheer value.
Before the introduction of the iPhone 12, this was our favorite iPhone. True, it misses out on a telephoto lens, but like we found with the Samsung Galaxy S10e, a coupling of main and ultrawide lenses serve most photo needs.
While it doesn’t get an OLED display, its LCD screen at least allows the phone to keep its best-in-generation battery life crown. And it even gets a bit more RAM – up to 4GB from its predecessor’s 3GB.
Add in iOS 14 and all the new tweaks coming in the iPhone 11 series and this phone is a lean, mean, photo-taking machine.