Best iPhone 2021: We looked at all 7 models Apple sells to decide which is best

Steve Jobs launched the unique iPhone again in 2007 with only one mannequin supported by AT&T. When you labored up the braveness to purchase a cellphone from an organization higher recognized for making computer systems, the one choice you had was whether or not to get one with 4GB or 8GB of storage. As coloration choices went, you could possibly get any coloration you wished (so long as it was black and aluminum).

Fourteen years have handed and Apple now presents seven completely different fashions of iPhone, together with 5 launched up to now 12 months alone. There’s a mannequin that works with just about each main cellphone provider on this planet. Storage choices now prime out at 512GB and the iPhone is on the market in an array of colours and finishes.

Apple at present sells seven iPhone fashions, a mixture of telephones and fashions relationship again to 2018:

Present iPhones, in contrast

Mannequin Beginning worth Display dimension No. of rear cameras CPU Launch date
iPhone SE $399 four.7 inches 1 A13 Bionic April 2020
iPhone XR $499 6.1 inches 1 A12 Bionic Oct. 2018
iPhone 11 $599 6.1 inches 2 A13 Bionic Sept. 2019
iPhone 12 Mini $699-$729 5.four inches 2 A14 Bionic Nov. 2020
iPhone 12 $799-$829 6.1 inches 2 A14 Bionic Oct. 2020
iPhone 12 Professional $999 6.1 inches three A14 Bionic Oct. 2020
iPhone 12 Professional Max $1,099 6.7 inches three A14 Bionic Nov. 2020

You would possibly discover that carriers and third-party sellers supply older fashions, just like the iPhone X. To complicate issues, some iPhones have two cameras, others three and nonetheless others 4 (together with the front-facing selfie digicam). Then there’s the truth that almost all present iPhones have Face ID, however one mannequin — the iPhone SE — troopers on with Contact ID. Having lots of choices is not unhealthy, however it could actually really feel overwhelming to pick out a mannequin when buying a brand new iPhone.

That will help you determine which is the very best iPhone for you, we completely reviewed and examined each on this record, from their batteries to digicam efficiency.

However for those who’re searching for different smartphone choices outdoors of Apple’s choices, learn our information to assist discover the greatest cellphone on your wants and try our tips about the right way to purchase a brand new smartphone

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Shopping for information: One of the best iPhone fashions in 2021


Patrick Holland/CNET

With help for 5G being its crown jewel function, the iPhone 12 ($829 unlocked, $799 on most carriers) marks the start of a brand new technology of iPhone. Out of the 4 telephones in Apple’s iPhone 12 collection, the common 12’s spot is a bit overshadowed by its siblings. However for those who look intently, you will notice it is mainly the iPhone 12 Professional with a $170 worth lower. Each have the identical design, the identical show, the identical insanely quick A14 Bionic chip, the identical 5G help, the identical help for MagSafe charging, the identical selfie, huge and ultrawide cameras.

What do you miss for not going Professional? You aren’t getting a devoted telephoto digicam, the power to shoot Apple ProRaw pictures or the stunning matte end again and shiny chrome steel sides. As a substitute you get a shiny end again and matte aluminum sides. If you happen to select to get an iPhone 12 and might afford to pay $50 extra, I like to recommend upgrading from 64GB of storage to 128GB.

Learn our Apple iPhone 12 overview.


Patrick Holland/CNET

If you would like the biggest display screen and longest battery life on any iPhone ever made, the $1,099 iPhone 12 Professional Max is definitely worth the worth. And sure, if you wish to get each final drop of picture high quality out of your pictures and movies, then that is the iPhone to get. The iPhone 12 Professional Max additionally earned a CNET’s Editors’ Alternative distinction.

Apart from being the largest and heaviest iPhone, the 12 Professional Max has photograph and video options not discovered on every other mannequin. The brand new telephoto lens on the 12 Professional Max has a 2.5x optical zoom in comparison with the 2x optical zoom on the 12 Professional. And that further zero.5x goes a good distance. The principle wide-angle digicam on the 12 Professional Max has a bigger sensor which in line with Apple will get an 87% enchancment in low-light functionality. In comparison with the common iPhone 12 Professional, it is onerous to note these enhancements as a result of Apple’s picture processing on its different telephones is so good.

To assist issues additional, the 12 Professional Max has sensor-based optical picture stabilization as a substitute of the lens-based OIS discovered on the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini and 12 Professional. By stabilizing the sensor on these iPhone 12 fashions, you acquire the equal of a cease of sunshine, which once more, on paper is spectacular.

Just like the iPhone 12 Professional, it can also shoot Apple ProRaw pictures. If you happen to can deal with the scale of this cellphone behemoth, it is price each penny of its excessive worth.

Learn our Apple iPhone 12 Professional Max overview.


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If you happen to do not want help for 5G, the iPhone 11 at $599 represents the very best deal for any iPhone. A lot in order that it’s a CNET Editors’ Alternative. You get a lot for that worth like an A13 processor, wonderful cameras, a strong battery life and the selection of six colours. In distinction to the straight-sided 12 collection, the 11 has curved sides which some could desire.

The largest downside is the outdated model display screen which makes use of an LCD panel as a substitute of an OLED one. However do not let that flip you away, the display screen nonetheless appears to be like good in on a regular basis use. Just like the iPhone 12, if in case you have an additional $50 in your price range, I like to recommend getting the 128GB model.

Learn our Apple iPhone 11 overview.


John Kim/CNET

At $399 you would possibly assume the one attraction of the iPhone SE (2020) is its worth. And admittedly it’s the most most cost-effective iPhone on this record and that could be a large deal. On the skin, the iPhone SE has the identical physique as an iPhone eight. It is the one iPhone on this record that has Contact ID, which in pandemic occasions is definitely a plus as face masks make utilizing Face ID a irritating expertise.

On the within, the SE has the identical A13 processor because the iPhone 11 which supplies the 2017 digicam a 2020 injection of Apple’s computational images magic. The SE helps 4G and is the one cellphone on this record that has the traditional iPhone design. However with the power to run the most recent model of iOS, it is simply as related as ever.

Learn our Apple iPhone SE (2020) overview.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Who stated small telephones do not exist in 2021? The iPhone 12 Mini ($729 unlocked, $699 on a provider plan) is good as a result of it has every thing the iPhone 12 has — it is simply smaller. It has the identical flat-sided design, help for 5G and OLED display screen with help for HDR. The display screen is roofed with Apple’s ceramic defend. The physique has an IP68 ranking for mud and water resistance and helps MagSafe wi-fi charging and equipment. It has the identical A14 Bionic processor, runs the identical iOS 14 software program and even has the identical cameras. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are the identical cellphone. However one is small and the opposite is not. It was acknowledged as a CNET Editors Alternative and is at present my every day driver.

That stated, I solely advocate you get the 12 Mini for its dimension. It is $100 cheaper than the iPhone 12 which could be a tempting cause to get the cellphone for an iPhone person attempting to economize. However for those who aren’t okay with a small cellphone you could be annoyed by its dimension or its “barely-gets-through-a-day” battery life. And as with different telephones on this record, for those who can afford it, I like to recommend paying $50 extra and getting the model with 128GB of storage.

Learn our Apple iPhone 12 Mini overview.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The iPhone 12 Professional Max is basically the last word iPhone. However its dimension, weight and price ticket can be a turnoff for a lot of. That is the place the $999 iPhone 12 Professional is available in: It offers you an identical strong construct and premium end. You simply get a smaller display screen, a smaller battery, and 2x telephoto digicam as a substitute of the two.5x telephoto discovered on the Professional Max.

Learn our Apple iPhone 12 Professional overview.


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The $499 iPhone XR is type of just like the middle-child of the iPhone lineup. There’s the iPhone SE that is $100 much less and has a more recent processor. However the iPhone XR presents one thing the SE does not. It’s a part of Apple’s new technology of iPhone design that began with the iPhone X. The XR has Face ID, a big 6.1-inch display screen and is available in six colours as a substitute of the three that the SE is available in.

However then there’s the iPhone 11 that is $100 extra and has a more recent processor and new cameras together with an ultrawide digicam that the XR does not have. However the iPhone XR is cheaper. So for those who’re searching for an inexpensive iPhone that embraces Apple’s extra up to date design and options, the iPhone XR is a superb choice and is a CNET Editors’ Alternative. It is even higher with extra storage for those who can swing an additional $50.

Learn our Apple iPhone XR overview.