Shopping for the best iPhones sounds easy, but when you realise how many Apple smartphones are actually available, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. But we can help with that.
The iPhone family is renowned for being both powerful and user-friendly, as well as a stylish fashion symbol to boot. That makes them quite expensive, especially compared to equivalently-specced Android phones, but you won't get the iPhone experience anywhere else, and that can be worth a lot to users like yourself.
Apple most recently launched the iPhone 14 series, including the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, which have now become our favourite iPhones. Good iPhones aren't just the latest iPhones though. The iPhone 13 series is the best iPhone around, with older models falling in behind them and then the cheapest (but still good) iPhone SE sitting at the bottom if you want the iOS experience for the least money possible.
Take a look at our rankings of all the iPhones currently available to buy new below. And if you get convinced to abandon your current Android phone, be sure to check out our guide on how to transfer contacts and data from Android to iPhone.
The best iPhones you can buy right now
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The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the biggest and best iPhone you can buy today. Its cameras are outstanding, it's more powerful than any Android rival and is one of the longest-lasting phones we've ever tested. It's also finally caught up with some long-time Android features that make it much better rounded than before.
The addition of the Dynamic Island means no more notch, and the upgraded display allows for an always-on display mode for the first time. Also, the main camera's upgrade to a 48MP sensor means even more detail and brightness in your photos.
About the only thing letting down this iPhone is again its charging speed. Apple has some of the slowest charging standards of any mobile device maker around right now at 20W. The other main complaint is that Apple's bumped the price up by £150 since last year, making this one expensive phone. If you can afford it, it's worth it though.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review.
The iPhone 14 Pro is the model to go for if you want almost the same performance as the iPhone 14 Pro Max at the top of the best iPhones list but prefer something slightly cheaper or more compact.
The iPhone 14 Pro features the same 48MP main/ 12MP ultrawide/ 12MP 3x telephoto camera combination as well as the 120Hz display with always-on capabilities and the Dynamic Island that the Pro Max has — all of the best parts of the phone. The only real area you may notice a difference between the Pro models in is battery life, but it shouldn't impact your usage that much since Apple's A16 chip provides great power efficiency as well as computing oomph when needed.
Again, watch out for how slow the battery charges even at the 20W maximum speed. Charging iPhones is still best left for overnight rather than a quick 20-minute top-up. But if you don't mind that, or the £150 extra you have to pay for this over the iPhone 13 Pro, it's likely the best Pro model for most users, and for anyone wanting the most substantial iPhone upgrade for their money.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review.
The basic iPhone 14 hasn't changed that much from last year, but it still offers the cheapest way to get onto the new iPhone ladder, and that's good if you're in dire need of an upgrade but not enough cash to buy a Pro model.
The iPhone 14 steps up from the iPhone 13 before it by improving its cameras, including a brighter main sensor, Action Mode videography and Photonic Engine-enhanced low-light shots. It also uses an improved A15 chipset for slightly better performance, which still beats any Android phone you could name.
However, with a 60Hz display, no telephoto camera and a £70 price jump, there are reasons to avoid this phone. If you want all the latest tech, see if you can stretch to a Pro phone. Otherwise, this remains a well-rounded device that will suit the average user in search of a new iPhone.
As of March 2023, you can now also buy the iPhone 14 in yellow, giving you some extra choice when you make your purchase.
Read our full iPhone 14 review.
If you like your phones small, then the iPhone 13 mini offers you that plus basically everything else that makes the iPhone 13 series great. At 5.4 inches, you'll struggle to find a smaller phone with a better display, chipset or cameras.
In essence, this is a miniaturized version of the base iPhone 13, only with a smaller display and battery. That does mean you won't get a 120Hz display or a telephoto camera, since the iPhone 13 lacks those features, too.
Battery life was the biggest problem with the iPhone 12 mini last year, and the good news is it's better on the iPhone 13 mini, though it's still below average. Even with that caveat, the unique size of the iPhone 13 mini might be enough to convince you it's right for above all the other recent iPhones.
Read our full iPhone 13 mini review.
Although the iPhone 13 has superseded it, the iPhone 12 is on sale at a reduced price and still makes for a great phone. This model introduced 5G compatibility and the current flat-edged design that helps the iPhone stand out from the curvier Android competition.
The 6.1-inch OLED display, combined with the still powerful A14 Bionic chipset makes the iPhone 12 a great phone for enjoying all types of apps and games. Meanwhile on the back, the dual main and ultrawide cameras are capable of high-quality photos, including night mode and portrait mode shots.
There are two issues you should know about when buying this model, though. First off, the basic iPhone 12 comes with a paltry 64GB of storage, likely not enough for all your apps and photos if you don't back them up to a cloud storage service. Also, the display lacks a high refresh rate option, meaning you're stuck with the aging 60Hz standard. But if your priority is a relatively new, well-priced and capable phone, you should still be happy with the iPhone 12.
Read our full iPhone 12 review.
The new iPhone SE 2022 is here, and while it's not changed much from the last generation, it remains the best iPhone deal.
Beneath the old-fashioned frame, you have the same A15 chipset you have in the iPhone 13 series. That means you get, by a huge margin, the best performance of any phone in its price category. Keeping Touch ID and the bezels means you don't get a lot of screen space for a modern phone, but perhaps that's preferable to having Face ID. Plus this is still a tiny phone, making it easily pocketable.
Keep in mind that this phone only has one camera on its back, rather than the usual two or three most phones now have. This single camera can take good photos, but if you want a wider shot, a crisp zoom shot, or a low-light mode, you're out of luck.
Read our full iPhone SE 2022 review.
How we test iPhones
As with any smartphone we test at Tom's Guide, we evaluate iPhones for days in real-world use cases. We also benchmark Apple's phones using a gamut of performance-measuring apps that allow us to compare iPhone performance to what Android devices are capable of. In addition to synthetic benchmarks, we also run real-world tests, including a video transcoding test in Adobe Premiere Rush that compares the iPhone's processing speed with other devices.
In our lab, we use a light meter to ascertain display quality data, like brightness and color accuracy to help us evaluate the display of the best iPhones. Our proprietary battery test determines longevity on a charge by endlessly streaming webpages over 4G and 5G networks; we then recharge the iPhones to see how quickly they charge in 15-minute intervals.
To compare cameras, we take any iPhone we review out and shoot photos in a variety of settings. We also bring along a comparable smartphone to see how the iPhone's photographic output measures up.
We explore Apple's iOS improvements, test gaming performance and evaluate the phone's speakers — and each of these factors play a part in our final verdict.
How to choose the best iPhone for you
The first thing you need to consider when picking one of these iPhones is the size you need. The smallest iPhones are the iPhone SE and the mini models of the iPhone 12/13, although they have different-sized displays (4.7 inches and 5.4 inches respectively).
Next up is the 6.1-inch gang, consisting of the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. Note that the iPhone 11 has curved sides, whereas the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models have flat ones.
Lastly are the two largest 6.7-inch models, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Consider which size is most comfortable for your hands and pockets, but also how they impact display quality and battery size.
All current iPhones with the exception fo the iPhone SE use Face ID to unlock the phone. That has been tricky in an era where we're encouraged to wear masks, but iOS 15.4 and its mask-ready Face ID update should help with that.
The third thing to consider when shopping for the best iPhone is weighing up whether it's better to save money by buying an older iPhone, or get a longer life out of your phone by buying a newer one. While Apple supports the iPhone for longer with software updates than Android companies typically do — often for five years or longer — you're going to hit the end of those full updates sooner if you buy a phone that was first put on sale several years ago. You'll have to take into consideration when you might replace your phone, and then decide if that makes it worth going without a year or two of big iOS updates to save a few hundred pounds.
What is the best iPhone?
If money's no object, we reckon the best iPhone is the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 14 Pro isn't far behind though if you don't like how big Pro Max models are.
Which iPhone is the best value for money?
Arguably the iPhone SE is best value for money since it offers identical power and software to an iPhone 13, but for several hundred pounds less. However we think when you take overall experience into account, the iPhone 12 best balances price and features.
Which is the most recent iPhone?
That would be the iPhone 14 series, consisting of the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, which all launched in autumn of 2022. Before that we had the most recent iPhone SE, and then the iPhone 13, iPhone 12 etc.
Which is the smallest iPhone?
The smallest iPhone depends if you go by screen size or overall size. The smallest screen on an iPhone belongs to the iPhone SE, which measures 4.7 inches. The smallest-bodied iPhone you can currently buy is the iPhone 13 mini, which is shorter and skinnier than the iPhone SE despite fitting a larger 5.4-inch display onto the front.
Which iPhone is worth buying in 2023?
All the iPhones on this list are still good to buy this year, even if they're a couple of years old. Thanks to Apple's generous software update schedule, they'll keep working with all your favorite apps for years, and gain at least some new features every time Apple launches a big software update, such as 2022's iOS 16.