Best iPhone for 2021: Which of Apple’s 7 phones is right for you?

Replace, September 2021: Apple has launched four new iPhone 13 models, and stopped promoting the iPhone XR, iPhone 12 Professional and iPhone 12 Professional Max. I will be updating this story to summarize my emotions on the brand new fashions as soon as we have totally reviewed them within the close to future. The sooner story, specializing in pre-iPhone 13 fashions, seems under.

Apple presently provides seven completely different fashions of iPhone, together with four launched in just over the past year alone. There’s an iPhone that works with just about each main telephone provider on the planet, and the iPhone-buying journey is an advanced one. That stated, know-how buffs and folks on the lookout for a stable telephone can agree that the iPhone has lots to supply, from a sturdy app ecosystem to highly effective computing and a wealth of digicam options. (Portrait mode for the win!) Even an older iPhone is ready to meet many individuals’s necessities.

Apple’s iPhone line was once easy. When the unique iPhone mannequin was unveiled by Steve Jobs over 14 years in the past, it was only one telephone, and solely out there on AT&T. The tough a part of selecting an iPhone in 2007 was working up the braveness to purchase a telephone from an organization higher recognized for its computer systems and the iPod. Past that hurdle, you solely needed to make two selections: Did you need 4GB or 8GB of storage, and did you need the black or aluminum mannequin?   

In the present day, there’s an iPhone for just about everybody. Should you still buy an iPhone 12? What about an iPhone 11 or an iPhone SE? And the way may the iPhone 13 compare to the iPhone 12? This is easy methods to determine between Apple’s present iPhone choices. 

Present iPhones, in contrast

Mannequin Beginning value Display dimension No. of rear cameras CPU Launch date
iPhone SE $399 4.7 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 5.4 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 3 A14 Bionic Oct. 2020
iPhone 12 Professional Max $1,099 6.7 inches 3 A14 Bionic Nov. 2020

You may 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 practically 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 will possibly really feel overwhelming to pick a mannequin when buying a brand new iPhone.

That will help you work out which is one of the best iPhone for you, we totally reviewed and examined every one on this listing, from their batteries to digicam efficiency. We have included present iPhone costs, although iPhone offers are recognized to occur, so do not assume your solely possibility is paying full value.

However for those who’re on the lookout for an Android telephone or one other smartphone outdoors of Apple’s choices, learn our information to assist discover the best phone to your wants and check out our recommendations on how to buy a new smartphone

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


Patrick Holland/CNET

With help for 5G connectivity being its crown jewel characteristic, 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 sequence, the common 12’s spot is a bit overshadowed by its siblings. However for those who look intently, you may notice it is mainly the iPhone 12 Professional with a $170 value lower. Each have the identical design, the identical show, the identical insanely quick A14 Bionic chip, the identical 5G support, the identical help for MagSafe charging, the identical selfie, extensive and ultrawide cameras.

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

Read our Apple iPhone 12 review.


Patrick Holland/CNET

If you’d like the biggest OLED show and longest battery life on any iPhone ever made, the $1,099 iPhone 12 Professional Max is definitely worth the value. 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.

Except for being the most important and heaviest iPhone, the 12 Professional Max has picture 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 0.5x goes a good distance. The primary wide-angle digicam on the 12 Professional Max has a bigger sensor which in accordance with Apple will get an 87% enchancment in low-light functionality. In comparison with the common iPhone 12 Professional, it is laborious 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 an alternative 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 photos. In the event you can deal with the scale of this telephone behemoth, it is value each penny of its excessive value.

Read our Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review.


Angela Lang/CNET

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

The most important downside is the previous fashion display screen which makes use of an LCD panel as an alternative 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, when you’ve got an additional $50 in your finances, I like to recommend getting the 128GB model.

Read our Apple iPhone 11 review.


John Kim/CNET

At $399 you may assume the one enchantment of the iPhone SE (2020) is its value. And admittedly it’s the least expensive iPhone on this listing, which is a giant deal. On the skin, the iPhone SE has the identical physique as an iPhone 8. It is the one iPhone on this listing that has Contact ID, which in pandemic instances 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 provides the 2017 digicam {hardware} a 2020 injection of Apple’s computational pictures magic. The SE helps 4G and is the one telephone on this listing that has the traditional iPhone design. However with the flexibility to run the most recent model of iOS, it is simply as related as ever.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Who stated small phones do not exist in 2021? The iPhone 12 Mini ($729 unlocked, $699 on a provider plan) is sensible as a result of it has all the things 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 telephone. However one is small and the opposite is not. It was acknowledged as a CNET Editors Alternative and is presently my day by day driver.

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

Read our Apple iPhone 12 Mini review.


Patrick Holland/CNET

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

Read our Apple iPhone 12 Pro review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

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 provides 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 an alternative 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 on the lookout for an inexpensive iPhone that embraces Apple’s extra up to date design and options, the iPhone XR is a superb possibility and is a CNET Editors’ Alternative. It is even higher with extra storage for those who can swing an additional $50.

Read our Apple iPhone XR review. | Finest iPhone for 2021: Which of Apple’s 7 telephones is best for you?


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