You’ve made the decision to buy a new iPhone, but that decision isn’t as simple as it once was: when it used to be a case of deciding on storage capacity and colour, there are multiple models of iPhone available to buy in 2020, each with its pros and cons. So, which is the best
You’ve made the decision to buy a new iPhone, but that decision isn’t as simple as it once was: when it used to be a case of deciding on storage capacity and colour, there are multiple models of iPhone available to buy in 2020, each with its pros and cons. So, which is the best iPhone to buy right now? In truth, it’ll depend a lot on what you want to get out of your smartphone.
iPhones come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of camera options and other unique features that set them apart from the Android competition, and here, we’ve ranked the best iPhones currently available to buy.
Best iPhone 2020
1. Best overall: iPhone 11 Pro
It might not have the largest display, but there’s no doubt this is the best iPhone to date for various reasons.
The matte finish, exclusive to the Pro range, provides more grip than standard glass and helps negate fingerprints and smudges too. The 5.8in OLED screen is stunningly detailed and works perfectly with Dark Mode in iOS 13, the cameras are top-notch, performance is slick and battery life is better than ever so there’s a lot to like.
It is a lot more expensive than the regular iPhone 11, but if you’re serious about your iPhone photography and want the best all-round experience, the iPhone 11 Pro is worth the extra cash.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 Pro review
2. Best value: iPhone 11
The iPhone 11 didn’t need to rewrite the smartphone rule book to be a winner – it simply needed to build on the success of the Xr, and it has done exactly that.
The standard iPhone 11 sports a nice design with a glass rear and comes in various finishes. Face ID is faster than ever and the niche telephoto lens of the iPhone XS range has been swapped for a more useful ultra-wide-angle lens. Unlike the Pro variant, the 6.1in display isn’t OLED, but it still offers a decent experience and, with the same A13 chipset as the Pro range, performance is top-notch here – even when playing demanding games like Oceanhorn 2.
You get all of this for £320/$300 less than the 11 Pro, offering incredible value for money.
Read our full Apple iPhone 11 review
3. Best battery life: iPhone 11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is identical to the 11 Pro in many respects, offering the same great performance powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic, the same choice of high-end cameras, the same matte finish and super-fast Face ID, but there are a few differences.
Due to its larger dimensions and thus larger battery, the 11 Pro Max offers slightly better battery life – a claimed 20 hours, compared to the 11 Pro’s 18 – along with a larger OLED display, measuring in at a whopping 6.5in.
So, why is it not the top pick? While it’s undoubtedly the best iPhone ever made, the problem is the price. Starting at £1,149/$1,099 with only 64GB of storage, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is also the most expensive iPhone ever made. Fitting, really.
4. Big screen on a budget: iPhone Xr
The iPhone Xr is the iPhone 11’s predecessor, and while you might be tempted to go for the updated version with an improved camera setup, the iPhone Xr still offers great value for money – especially when you consider the large 6.1in display on offer.
Admittedly, the camera offering is basic, with a single 12Mp snapper on the rear and an 8Mp selfie camera, and the A12 isn’t quite as snappy as the A13 Bionic you’ll get in the iPhone 11, but it does offer the large display and the convenience of Face ID for little over £200 more than Apple’s budget-friendly iPhone SE, and the battery life is great too.
Read our full Apple iPhone XR review
5. Best small-screen iPhone: iPhone SE
The iPhone SE is a phone devoted to function over form, prioritising raw performance and camera capabilities over design or aesthetics, all in the name of hitting its £419/$399 starting price. With the A13 Bionic and a single 12Mp rear snapper, the iPhone SE looks to offer flagship-level performance for half the price, and largely succeeds.
However, the focus on performance over design makes it a very un-Apple iPhone, and there are a few disappointing elements including the rather budget 720p LCD display and the dated design. The biggest disappointment, however, is battery life – if you do need the small form factor of the iPhone SE, be prepared to carry a battery pack around all day.
Still, if you want a reliable camera, fast performance, and guaranteed iOS updates for years to come without breaking the bank then this is the iPhone for you.
Read our full Apple iPhone SE (2020) review
It’s worth noting that we’ve only listed the iPhones officially to buy from Apple. Older models, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and even the iPhone X are still available from third-party retailers looking to shift leftover stock, and some carriers still offer older iPhones too.
What should I consider when buying an iPhone?
One of the biggest deciding factors when on the market for an iPhone is the screen size you want, or most feel comfortable using – we don’t all have huge hands to use the iPhone 11 Pro Max one-handed, do we?
If you’re suited to smaller displays, your best bet is the 4.7in second-gen iPhone SE (the same form factor as the iPhone 8), although there’s a trade-off in other departments. It then jumps up to the iPhone 11 Pro at 5.8in – interestingly enough, the iPhone 11 and Xr have a larger display than Apple’s headline Pro smartphone at 6.1in. If you want the biggest display possible, you’d be better off with the iPhone 11 Pro Max and its 6.5in display.
Performance is another element to consider when buying an iPhone, as you’ll likely want to get the most out of your device – especially at Apple’s prices. The good news is that, unlike with a rogue iPad featuring the ageing A10 chipset, the entire iPhone range features Apple’s A12 or A13 Bionic chipset, guaranteeing great performance regardless of the model you opt for.
The only device with an A12 is 2018’s iPhone Xr, and while it’ll still provide great performance, it’s not quite as snappy as what’s on offer from the A13 Bionic chipset in the rest of the current iPhone range.
If cameras are important to you, then you’ve got a tough decision to make as it’s one area where the iPhone collection differs greatly. If you want the best possible camera experience, the combination of a main 12Mp sensor, an ultra-wide sensor and 3x telephoto sensor on the rear of the iPhone 11 Pro range may be best for you. If you can live without the telephoto lens, you can opt for the standard iPhone 11, which features the same main sensor and ultra-wide angle camera as the 11 Pro range.
The iPhone Xr has a single 12Mp camera on the rear, meaning it’s quite limited compared to the iPhone 11 range, and it’s the same with the iPhone SE. The single lens will do if you’re not too fussed about photography, but don’t expect the same level of detail on offer from Apple’s high-end options.
Traditionally, battery life has been a bit of a problem when it comes to iPhones, especially when compared to Android counterparts and their huge batteries. But with that said, Apple has come leaps and bounds over the past couple of years when it comes to battery life, with the 11 Pro Max offering all-day battery life with average use – and then some – and it’s a similar story with the iPhone 11 Pro and standard iPhone 11 too.
Battery capacity is somewhat tied to display size, as that’ll dictate how large the battery can be, but battery life is also improved by power-efficient chipsets. On the flip side, if battery is important to you, then you should stay well away from the iPhone SE – in our review, we noted how it’d struggle to provide 5 hours of screen time without needing a top-up. Yikes.
Of course, the biggest factor to consider is your budget: how much do you want to spend on your iPhone? The iPhone 11 Pro is a phenomenal smartphone, but starting at £1049/$999, it should be – and that’s not even the most expensive iPhone available. That award goes to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which starts at £1,149/$1,099 and goes all the way up to £1,499/$1,449.
The iPhone 11’s £729/$699 price tag is much more attractive if you want flagship specs. If not, the iPhone Xr’s £629/$599 price tag offers great value, especially with that large display and Face ID support. The cheapest iPhone is the iPhone SE at £419/$399, and although it does offer the same A13 chipset as the iPhone 11 range, there’s a compromise not only in terms of battery life but other areas too.
But hey, if you want to get into the iOS ecosystem at the cheapest price possible, the iPhone SE could be the one to go for.
Before you take the plunge, we recommend taking a look at our selection of the best smartphones right now to get a better understanding of the wider smartphone market and be sure you’re making the right decision.
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