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The iPhone is the most ubiquitous smartphone — perhaps even a consumer product — in the world, and if you're in the market for a new model, the myriad of options could be overwhelming. It may be easy to default to buying the newest one, but for some people, it may make more sense to buy an older or different model. With Apple's best-in-industry software updates, you can buy an older phone and still get the latest Apple experience.

We at XDA have tested every iPhone, so here's our trusty guide to hopefully help you make a more informed decision. If you're looking for more options, we have recommendations on the best Android phones and a combined recommendation list for the best phones.

Our favorite iPhones

iPhone 14 pro
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Best overall iPhone

The biggest upgrade to iPhone in years

The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new screen design, new cameras, and the most powerful chip in mobile in a package that's the right size for most people.

  • Dynamic Island
  • Always-on display
  • Easier to carry and handle
  • No physical SIM card slot
  • Stainless steel frame is a fingerprint magnet
  • Large rear camera bump

Remember two years ago when the iPhone 12 Pro was missing some features in the 12 Pro Max? Apple has now given full parity to the Pro iPhones. The iPhone 14 Pro is exactly the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max other than its physical size (including battery). This means that if you want the absolute best that Apple has to offer, you don't have to get the gigantic phone.

The iPhone 14 Pro also runs on the A16 Bionic SoC and has the new 48MP main camera and a larger image sensor with the ultrawide camera, plus you also get Dynamic Island. The camera shoots pixel-binned 12MP photos and produces excellent dynamic range day or night. It has all the new features you'll see in the Pro Max, including the new Photonic Engine to help in low-light conditions and the Action Mode for superior video stabilization. Cinematic mode, which is like portrait mode for video, also returns here. And like the Pro Max, it also takes amazing selfies with the TrueDepth camera.

Really the only things that separate the Pro from the Pro Max come down to dimensions, weight, and battery size. The iPhone 14 Pro is smaller in all these areas, but that might work for you if you want all the latest flagship features without a giant phone.

A render of the iPhone 13 in pink on a transparent background.
Source: Apple
Apple iPhone 13
Best for most users

Pretty much a cheaper iPhone 14

$629 $730 Save $101

The iPhone 13 may be over a year old but it's still mighty capable and the best iPhone for most people who don't need all the bells and whistles of a Pro phone.

  • Same processor as base iPhone 14 models
  • Small notch
  • Has a physical SIM card slot
  • No crash detection
  • No satellite connectivity
  • Released in 2021

You may be wondering why we prefer the iPhone 13 over the newer iPhone 14. It's because this isn't necessarily about the absolute most powerful or newest phone that money can buy, but rather the best option for the average consumer, after taking into account features and price. Also, if we're being honest, the iPhone 14 really doesn't bring many useful upgrades over the iPhone 13, particularly since they run on the same chip. You might as well save some money and get almost every modern feature with the iPhone 13.

The phone is still officially on sale at the Apple Store, can be bought now at a discount at retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon, and is usually about $100 cheaper than the iPhone 14. The iPhone 13's Apple A15 Bionic is still extremely powerful today — arguably as powerful as the best chip in Android phones — and the 12MP main and ultrawide cameras remain very capable. With the help of Apple's computational photography, the iPhone 13 cameras excel in day and night and can shoot some of the best videos on smartphones. You also get the impressive Cinematic Mode that creates a semi-convincing artificial bokeh in video.

You'll miss out on a couple of iPhone 14 series features like crash detection, but the iPhone 13 holds up in the areas that matter most.

iPhone 14 pro
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Best for media consumption

The largest, highest-end model

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the biggest and baddest iPhone, giving you a new Dynamic Island, improved cameras, and epic battery life.

  • Dynamic Island
  • Always-on display
  • 48MP main rear sensor
  • Relatively pricey
  • Large and heavy
  • No physical SIM card slot

If you want the absolute latest and biggest from Apple, then the iPhone 14 Pro Max is your de-facto choice. But unlike the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which only brought marginal improvements over the 12 Pro Max, 2022's 14 Pro Max brings some major upgrades. The first thing you'll notice is that the notch is gone, replaced by the Dynamic Island cutout. Apple built UI elements into and around the cutout so that depending on the action, the Dynamic Island will morph into different shapes and sizes.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max runs on Apple's newest all-powerful A16 Bionic SoC, with a new 48MP main camera and a larger image sensor, the ultrawide camera that uses pixel-binning technology to produce brighter, more detailed images, even in low light. There's also a new machine learning algorithm called Photonic Engine that helps improve low-light photos. Old favorites like Cinematic mode, which is like portrait mode for video, also return, and a new action mode helps with video stabilization. Then there's the TrueDepth camera, which can really get an idea of your face and apply realistic portrait lighting and convincing digital bokeh.

Another benefit of getting the largest iPhone is you get the most screen. The 6.7-inch display here is stunning to look at, with superb viewing angles and maximum brightness. Pair that with awesome stereo speakers, and this is a phone you can binge Netflix on without issues. Some of us here at XDA, unfortunately, also find this model a bit hard to use with one hand. But if you have large hands or don't mind using both hands on occasion, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the biggest and the baddest option around.

New Project-10-1
Apple iPhone 12
Best affordable iPhone

A blend of modern and dated

If you want an iPhone that still feels flagship-ish at a good price, look no further than the two year old iPhone 12.

  • Face ID
  • Dual rear camera system
  • Relatively affordable
  • Large notch
  • Released in 2020

If saving a bit of money is your goal, but you don't want to go all in on the ancient iPhone SE, then the iPhone 12 is a good choice. Even at two years old, the iPhone 12 still holds up well today thanks to its still-powerful A14 Bionic chip.

While the two-year-old iPhone 12 camera system loses out on some fun features introduced in the iPhone 13 and 14 series, such as Cinematic or Action modes, you still have a capable dual-camera system that captures great wide and ultrawide images provided you have enough lighting. If you decide to shoot in low light situations, both of these lenses will have to revert to night mode a bit more than most 2022 flagship phones, but it's not a deal breaker for most people.

And because Apple gives the iPhones great software support, you can still run the latest version of iOS even if you buy this older iPhone. Elsewhere, you still have the premium iPhone design language with ceramic shield and aluminum railings, plus a gorgeous OLED panel. Just note that the screen's notch and 60Hz refresh rate feel a bit behind.

iPhone 13
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Best small iPhone

The last Mini for the foreseeable future

The iPhone 13 Mini is perhaps the last in Apple's mini phone experiment, so you might want to buy this now while you can. Don't be fooled by the tiny size — this thing still packs a punch.

  • The latest Mini iPhone
  • Tempting price tag
  • Same processor as base iPhone 14 models
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Released in 2021

The iPhone 13 Mini is not just small — it's downright petite. Most people should be able to palm the entire device and reach all four corners of the screen with their thumb easily. Don't be fooled by its dainty build, however. The iPhone 13 Mini still packs the same punch as the iPhone 13, so you're still getting a 5nm powerful SoC, very good main and ultra-wide cameras, as well as aluminum railings and Ceramic Shield protection for the display glass panel.

The camera system is identical to the iPhone 13, so this means you have a very capable dual-camera setup. Switch seamlessly between wide and ultra-wide cameras mid-filming, or point and shoot anywhere — even against harsh backlight — and get a properly exposed shot.

The battery here is a bit weak, unfortunately. This phone likely won't last you an entire 13-hour day if you have a busy Saturday, but on a typical workday in which you're stationary at a desk, the iPhone 13 Mini's endurance is fine.

If you want your phone this small, you should really consider snapping this up now because Apple has apparently scrapped the Mini line.

New Project-12
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Best budget iPhone

Mighty internals, overused exterior

The iPhone SE (2022) is the absolute cheapest iPhone right now that you can buy brand new.

  • A15 Bionic chip
  • 5G support
  • Affordable
  • Physical Home button
  • Ancient chassis
  • Outdated camera

If you want the absolute cheapest iPhone possible (that's not used or several years old), the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is the only sub-$430 iPhone around. It may lack the flashier all-screen design of the other iPhones listed here, but it comes in a petite size and still has the iconic circular home button for those who still prefer the tactile feeling of pressing a button.

With this model, you're still getting the Apple A15 Bionic, 5G support, IP67 water and dust resistance (rare for a sub-$500 phone), and a good single camera with OIS. As usual, video recording is a strong point. And this is one of the cheapest iPhones that you can officially buy right now that will receive the longest software support.

The 4.7-inch, 750 x 1334 screen isn't going to compete with other iPhones on this list, but it's still a good LCD panel for its price, with Apple's fine-tuning producing excellent colors and acceptable maximum brightness. You also get stereo speakers. The battery life is on the less generous side, so look out for newer options if you want something that lasts confidently through the day. With this phone, it's best to have humble expectations.

Our favorite iPhones: The bottom line

Even though we here at XDA have a soft spot for Android and all the customization the platform brings, we can concede that when it comes to providing software updates in a timely and long-term manner, Apple does a much better job with the iPhone. While we're partial to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13, any of the devices on this list will serve you well. Though, if you're looking for the best value you'll get for your money, then the iPhone 13 is certainly the right pick here. If you're looking for the highest-end model packing the latest technologies and features, then the iPhone 14 Pro is the one to go for. Alternatively, you can wait for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.

iPhone 14 pro
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Best overall iPhone

The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new screen design, new cameras, and the most powerful chip in mobile in a package that's the right size for most people.