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Which iPhone should you buy? Every available Apple phone compared

How to pick your perfect Apple handset

Picking the right iPhone used to be easy: you just had to choose the colour and the storage capacity. Alas, things are not so simple in 2022.

From Mini to Pro to Pro Max, Apple’s latest flagship ships in more variants than ever before. And just to muddy the waters further, the mobile maker still sells a few of its former headline handsets from previous generations, as well as the entry-level SE for buyers on a budget.

So there’s an Apple smartphone for everyone. The tricky thing is knowing how to pick it. Not sure where to start? To help you decide, we’ve set out the good, the bad and the things to note about every iPhone model that’s currently available to buy from Apple.

iPhone 13 Pro (2021) – from £949

6) iPhone 13 Pro Max (2021)

To the untrained eye, both the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are identical to their last-gen equivalents. But while the dimensions remain the same, subtle tweaks have taken place: the notch is slightly slimmer and the cameras are arranged diagonally. Not enough to tempt you? Don’t worry, there’s plenty more to play with.

You get deliciously slick 120Hz refresh rates on the 6.1in ProMotion display, outstanding performance from Apple’s A15 processor, plus new telephoto and macro photography skills from the revamped camera array (which also features larger pixels for better low-light results). Battery life is beefier than before, while the display is 25% brighter than on the previous generation.

All of which makes the iPhone 13 Pro the best all-rounder in Apple’s line-up. If you already own an iPhone 12 Pro, the grounds for upgrading are less clear cut. But for anyone else, this is the best smartphone you can buy from Apple right now.

iPhone 13 (2021) – from £779

14) iPhone 13 (2021)

Following the iPhone 12 was always going to be a tough act. And while the iPhone 13 offers several technical improvements over its predecessor, for most people the previous generation (see below) represents better value. And besides a slightly wider notch, it also looks identical.

Still, if you simply have to have the latest model, the 13 is no bad handset: you get top-notch performance from the A15 Bionic chip, along with longer battery life, a brighter screen and twice as much storage as standard. Larger pixels also mean the iPhone 13 can take better photos.

So the changes are all incremental. That doesn’t mean the iPhone 13 isn’t an excellent phone. Far from it: if you’re buying your first Apple handset, you’ll find very little be disappointed about. But there are fewer compelling reasons to make the switch from the iPhone 12 – and if you’re looking to save £100, that’s the way to go.

Read moreApple iPhone 13 review

iPhone 13 Mini (2021) – from £679

10) iPhone 13 Mini (2021)

Outwardly identical (but for a bigger camera bump), the iPhone 13 Mini is the spitting image of its compact predecessor. That means it’s also a more pocketable option for those who want flagship performance that doesn’t dwarf their paws.

At £100 more than the iPhone 12 Mini, the second-gen variant is cleverly priced. It doesn’t revolutionise the form factor. Instead, the extra ton nets you better battery life and improved cameras, including larger pixels and optical image stabilisation from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The most recent Mini also deploys Apple’s A15 processor for boundless power and performance.

Any niggles are simply things that haven’t changed from the previous edition: the notch remains annoying, there’s no Touch ID and it can be a little fiddly to use (which is partly the point). If you’d like a more compact Apple smartphone that’s still a portable powerhouse, there’s nothing else like the iPhone 13 Mini.

iPhone 12 (2020) – from £679

iPhone 12 (2020) (from £679)

When it was new, the iPhone 12 was our pick from among its contemporaries. With the same display, processor and 5G connectivity as the 12 Pro, as well as much of the same camera tech, it was a very easy device to recommend to most people. And that was when it cost £799.

A year later and £120 cheaper, it remains the Apple handset which offers the best blend of value and performance. Its notch may be bigger and its lenses vertically aligned, but the iPhone 12 is otherwise identical to its successor – meaning it’s a slim and beautiful sliver of aluminium. Plus it packs a vibrant OLED display with the same resolution.

Yes, the iPhone 13 takes better photos with its larger pixels. It also lasts a bit longer, shines a bit brighter and runs a bit faster (thanks to Apple’s A15 chip). But while those evolutionary improvements make it technically better, they probably don’t justify the price hike for most people. The 12 is still a very appealing option.

Read moreApple iPhone 12 review

iPhone 12 Mini (2020) – from £579

11) iPhone 12 Mini (2020)

Not everyone wants a smaller smartphone. But for those who do, Apple makes the Mini. This is first version, released in 2020 – and it’s still well worth considering if you want a smaller iPhone 12 that’s every bit as capable as its bigger siblings.

A 5.4in screen makes it feel positively pint-sized beside the palm-filling flagships we’re familiar with. Yet its A14 Bionic processor still delivers excellent performance, plus it gets the same brilliant cameras, natty flat-panel aluminium design and 5G support as its full-size siblings. Battery life is a bit less resilient, mind.

If you want a small, top-of-the line iPhone, you’ll be looking at this. But here’s the real question: should you shell out another £100 to bag yourself the updated iPhone 13 Mini? If you want better cameras and battery life, yes. If not, the 12 Mini is a more affordable – and pretty much just as capable – compact Apple phone.

iPhone SE (2022) – from £419

23) iPhone SE (2020)

A minor upgrade for Apple’s entry-level option, the third-gen SE is still styled like an iPhone 8 – complete with dated 4.7in LCD display, plus chunky bezels above and below. Security continues to be handled by a Touch ID sensor in the Home button and the shell remains an aluminium and glass affair, although the back panel is tougher than before.

Inside is Apple’s A15 Bionic chip – shared with the iPhone 13 – which gives the updated SE plenty of power to zip through apps, games and imaging tasks. Camera kit is still limited to a single 12MP sensor on the rear, but that fresh silicon translates into computational improvements, including support for Smart HDR 4, Live Text content detection and improved low-light video.

Apple has thankfully addressed one of the biggest drawbacks of the second-gen model: battery life. The latest SE is good for up to 15 hours of video playback (matching the iPhone 12 Mini). Also new is support for 5G, which brings the cheapest iPhone’s connectivity bang up to date.

Provided you don’t mind the overfamiliar form factor and mediocre display, the SE offers a lot of iPhone for £419 – especially if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 8.

iPhone 11 (2019) – from £489

18) iPhone 11 (2019)

The iPhone 11 is the oldest model you can still officially buy from Apple. Previous generations are still available from other retailers, as are the Pro and Pro Max models that accompanied the iPhone 11 in its heyday. But how does the 11 itself stack up?

Essentially an enhanced iPhone XR, the 11 is thicker, taller and wider than the iPhone 12 – although that hardly makes it porky. It ships with two very stellar rear snappers, plenty of power from the A13 Bionic chip and decent battery life to boot.

But there are also some clear limitations. Unlike the iPhone 12, the 11 doesn’t feature an OLED screen – and its 6.1in LCD panel feels like a big compromise compared to the latest handsets. That said, its marked-down price tag represents better value than ever. Whether it’s worth £100 more than the SE really depends on whether you want an ultra-wide lens and a frame-filling screen. And – whisper it – you can find refurbished versions of more recent handsets for around the same price.

Read moreApple iPhone 11 review