Deciding which iPhone to buy has always been tricky. Which screen size is best for you, and how much storage do you need? Should you save money by selecting an older model, or should you splash out on the latest iPhone 12 or 12 Pro - or even the 12 Pro Max? Is the iPhone SE or the 12 mini the best compromise between specs and value for money?

In this article we talk you through each of the phones currently available from Apple, to help you decide which is best for you. We discuss price, specs and features, and you should leave feeling much more confident about your buying decision. Read our iPhone deals roundup for more advice.

Here's your grand overview of Apple's current iPhone range:

Model Release date Storage options Prices View on Apple's website Skip ahead to find out more
iPhone 12 Pro Max 13/11/2020 128GB
256GB
512GB
£1,099/$1,099
£1,199/$1,199
£1,399/$1,399
Apple Store 12 Pro Max details
iPhone 12 Pro 23/10/2020 128GB
256GB
512GB
£999/$999
£1,099/$1,099
£1,299/$1,299
Apple Store 12 Pro details
iPhone 12 23/10/2020 64GB
128GB
256GB
£799/$829
£849/$879
£949/$979
Apple Store 12 details
iPhone 12 mini 13/11/2020 64GB
128GB
256GB
£699/$729
£749/$779
£849/$879
Apple Store 12 mini details
iPhone 11 20/09/2019 64GB
128GB
256GB
£599/$599
£649/$649
£749/$749
Apple Store 11 details
iPhone XR 26/10/2018 64GB
128GB
£499/$499
£549/$549
Apple Store XR details
iPhone SE (2020) 15/04/2020 64GB
128GB
256GB
£399/$399
£449/$449
£549/$549
Apple Store SE details

Is now a good time to buy a new iPhone?

Yes! Apple has just launched the new iPhone 12 handsets, and we don't expect any new models until spring 2021 at the earliest. More in this in our guide to the best time to buy an iPhone.

Not only do you now have access to the four brand-new phones, but the older ones still on the market just got a handy price cut.

What is the best screen size for iPhone?

This is tricky. The seven models of iPhone feature four different screen sizes:

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7in
  • iPhone 12 Pro: 6.1in
  • iPhone 12: 6.1in
  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4in
  • iPhone 11: 6.1in
  • iPhone XR: 6.1in
  • iPhone SE (2020): 4.7in

The size which suits you best is going to come down to personal preference - a larger screen is obviously nice to have, and will make games and videos look much better, but you'll pay for it in terms of price (the 12 Pro), price and a bulkier handset (12 Pro Max) or older tech (the XR). You will probably need to compromise.

There are those, on the other hand, who value portability, and were disappointed when Apple discontinued the 4in iPhone SE from 2016. Those days appear to be gone for good, we're sorry to say, but the new SE for 2020, while a little bigger, is your best bet in this regard. It's great value, too.

If you're really unsure which iPhone size is going to suit you best, we'd highly recommend visiting an Apple Store and trying them out in person. Alternatively, if that's not an option, try mocking up the sizes with cardboard (you can find the dimensions of each phone listed below).

How much storage do I need?

Each iPhone is available in two or three capacity options. It's important to consider how much you need before buying because iPhones don't have a microSD card slot that will allow you to add additional storage at a later date - but these days, with the minimum allocation a very respectable 64GB, this may be less of a worry. It all depends how much stuff you like to put on your device.

To be honest, 64GB will be enough for most people; consider carefully whether you need any more than that before you cough up extra cash. Have a look at your current phone's usage (go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage) and think about how much space you really need. Read How much storage do you need on an iPhone? for detailed advice.

With the preliminaries completed, here's a breakdown of each iPhone model to help you decide which is best for you.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 12 Pro Max

Price: From £1,099/$1,099
Buy from Apple

This is the emperor: the flagship at the top of Apple's phone range. You cannot currently find a better iPhone than this. Or a costlier one: it starts at £1,099/$1,099 for the 128GB option, and tops out at an astonishing £1,399/$1,399 for 512GB. (Most people will be fine with 128GB; Apple has increased the minimum storage from 64GB on the 11 Pro Max.)

Still, you get what you pay for. In this case that means a glorious 6.7in, 458ppi, True Tone OLED screen, the biggest Apple has yet supplied on an iPhone, and a raft of cutting-edge specs.

The A14 Bionic processor is the fastest Apple has made (indeed, the company says it contains the fastest CPU and the fastest GPU in any smartphone yet made by anyone). Battery life is three hours more than the 12 Pro, for an estimated total of 20 hours of wireless video playback.

The camera setup is exceptional. You get a triple-lens camera on the back (telephoto, wide and ultrawide), Night Mode (now including portraits), and Smart HDR 3, an updated version of the processing used in the 11 Pro Max that's designed to use the A14's power for superior shots in difficult conditions. Optical zoom is now up to 5x.

The marquee feature for 2020 is support for 5G, which promises faster internet speeds away from your home Wi-Fi: up to 4Gbps under optimal conditions, although this will vary depending on location and the progress made by carriers in rolling out network coverage.

But, perhaps most importantly for some of the more butter-fingered of our readers, the 12 Pro Max is designed to be very hard to kill. The Ceramic Shield on the front is supposed to offer 4x better drop protection than the previous generation, and the device is water-resistant to a depth of 6m, up from 4m on the 11 Pro Max.

Find the best deals on the 12 Pro Max, and on all of the new handsets, in our article discussing where to buy the iPhone 12.

We've put all of the 12 Pro Max's claims to the test. Find out how it got on in our iPhone 12 Pro Max review.

iPhone 12 Pro Max specs

  • iOS 14
  • 6.7in OLED (2778 x 1284 at 458ppi)
  • A14 Bionic processor
  • 128/256/512GB storage
  • 12Mp/12Mp/12Mp triple-lens camera, f/2.4, f/1.6 and f/2.0, OIS
  • 12Mp front camera, f/2.2
  • 802.11ax dual-band Wi-Fi 6
  • Nano SIM with dual eSIM compatibility
  • Haptic Touch
  • IP68
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
  • 226g

iPhone 12 Pro

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 12 Pro

Price: From £999/$999
Buy from Apple

Virtually identical to the 12 Pro Max, the 12 Pro suffers only in terms of its screen (6.1in rather than 6.7in) and battery life (up to 17 hours of wireless video playback rather than 20). For those reasons it's cheaper, but these things are relative; it starts at £999/$999, and tops out at £1,299/$1,299 for the 512GB version.

So you still get 5G, the super-fast A14 Bionic processor, the new tough Ceramic Shield protecting the screen, the triple-lens camera with its various photographic upgrades. And even though the screen is smaller, it shares the 12 Pro Max's exceptional brightness and contrast.

We've put all of the 12 Pro's claims to the test. Find out how it got on in our iPhone 12 Pro review.

iPhone 12 Pro specs

  • iOS 14
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
  • 6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED display (2532 x 1170 at 460ppi), 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 800/1,200 nits max brightness (typical/HDR), True Tone
  • Triple 12MP rear-facing cameras (f/2.4 Ultra Wide, f/1.6 Wide and f/2.0 Telephoto), flash, 4x optical zoom, OIS, Portrait Mode, Night mode portraits, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW, 4K video recording at 24/30/60fps
  • 12MP front-facing camera (f/2.2), Retina Flash, Portrait Mode, Smart HDR 3
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP68 water- and dust-resistant (6m up to 30 minutes), Ceramic Shield
  • Claimed battery life up to 17 hours of video playback
  • 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm
  • 187g

iPhone 12

iPhone buying guide: iPhone 12

Price: From £799/$829
Buy from Apple

This is the inbetweener of the new generation and therefore quite possibly the best choice.

You get the biggest feature of the late-2020 generation, 5G, so can expect radically improved away-from-home internet speeds where coverage is available. And unlike in previous generations, this slightly cheaper model's screen is just as sharp as those of its costlier siblings, at an impressive 460ppi, although it isn't quite as bright.

The main loss compared to the Pro models is the camera setup, which is twin-lens on the rear rather than triple (you lose the telephoto, which among other things means weaker optical zoom), and misses out in some other areas such as Night Mode portraits (because it hasn't got a LiDAR scanner) and the new Apple ProRAW, a feature theoretically combining the processing finesse of Smart HDR with the creative control of RAW, and due to arrive in an update later this year.

Read our iPhone 12 review.

iPhone 12 specs

  • iOS 14
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB storage
  • 6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED display (2532 x 1170 at 460ppi), 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 625/1,200 nits max brightness (typical/HDR), True Tone
  • Dual 12MP rear-facing cameras (f/2.4 Ultra Wide and f/1.6 Wide), flash, 2x optical zoom, OIS, Portrait Mode, Smart HDR 3, 4K video recording at 24/30/60fps
  • 12MP front-facing camera (f/2.2), Retina Flash, Portrait Mode, Smart HDR 3
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP68 water- and dust-resistant (6m up to 30 minutes), Ceramic Shield
  • Claimed battery life up to 17 hours of video playback
  • 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm
  • 162g

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone buying guide: iPhone 12 mini

Price: From £699/$729
Buy from Apple

The baby of the new generation, the 12 mini arrives with a new screen size (5.4in) and a lower price tag but an impressive feature set that matches the iPhone 12 in almost every respect. You just lose out on the two truly size-dependent characteristics: screen size and battery life, which is claimed to be 15 hours.

It's therefore the cheapest and smallest iPhone to support 5G - indeed Apple claims it's the smallest and lightest 5G-ready smartphone across the industry. If you want 5G and the new A14 processor, this is the most accessibly way of getting them.

Read our iPhone 12 mini review.

iPhone 12 mini specs

  • iOS 14
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB storage
  • 5.4in Super Retina XDR OLED display (2340 x 1080 at 476ppi), 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 625/1,200 nits max brightness (typical/HDR), True Tone
  • Dual 12MP rear-facing cameras (f/2.4 Ultra Wide and f/1.6 Wide), flash, 2x optical zoom, OIS, Portrait Mode, Smart HDR 3, 4K video recording at 24/30/60fps
  • 12MP front-facing camera (f/2.2), Retina Flash, Portrait Mode, Smart HDR 3
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP68 water- and dust-resistant (6m up to 30 minutes), Ceramic Shield
  • Claimed battery life up to 15 hours of video playback
  • 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm
  • 133g

iPhone 11

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 11

Price: From £599/$599
Buy from Apple

A solid price cut makes the iPhone 11 - the only surviving member of its generation - extremely appealing.

This is the cheaper version of the 11-series range, with an LCD screen rather than the nicer OLED of the Pro range, and fewer camera lenses.

It followed on from the XR, which is still on sale, and offers a number of improvements on that handset to justify its higher price. As ever there is a processor upgrade (from A12 to A13 - although now, of course, all eyes are on the even quicker A14 of the 12-series), but mainly it's about the cameras. The XR had a single lens on the back, whereas the 11 gets a pair (in itself impressive, but less so than the triple-lens offering on the 11 Pro and, now, 12 Pro), while the front camera has been bumped from 7Mp to 12Mp. You also get a new Night Mode and 'next-gen' smart HDR. Video is improved from 1080p to 4K.

Moving away from photography, the 11 has better battery life and water resistance than the XR and the colour choices are different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

Read our iPhone 11 review.

iPhone 11 specs

  • iOS 14
  • 6.1in LCD, 1792x828, 326ppi
  • A13 Bionic processor
  • 64/128/256GB storage
  • 12Mp/12Mp twin-lens camera, f/2.4 and f/1.8, OIS
  • 12Mp front camera, f/2.2
  • 802.11ax dual-band Wi-Fi 6
  • Nano SIM with dual eSIM compatibility
  • Haptic Touch
  • IP68
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
  • 194g

iPhone 11 deals

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iPhone XR

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone XR

Price: From £499/$499
Buy from Apple
For contracts, visit: Best iPhone XR contracts

The iPhone XR is a real survivor, remaining in Apple's line-up even as most of the X-series and 11-series have fallen by the wayside. It celebrates this longevity with yet another price cut for late 2020.

That price tag of £499/$499 look more appealing than ever. Remember, this is one of Apple's desirable notched-screen handsets we're talking about, with a big 6.1in display and Face ID facial recognition. The A12 Bionic chip is now two years old, but it won't let you down.

The XR does compromise by including an LCD screen rather than the OLED of the 11 Pro and entire 12-series (and on the now-discontinued XS and XS Max), but you won't notice too much of a difference. There is also only a single camera on the back and a 7Mp lens on the front - the iPhone 11, which is the XR's successor, upgrades to a twin-lens at the rear and 12Mp at the front.

It comes in several cheerful colours which recall the iPhone 5c from 2013. If colour is a big thing for you, check the options carefully, since the iPhone 11's choices are slightly different - it misses out on coral and blue, for instance, which remain XR exclusives, but gains green and a very subtle purple.

Read our iPhone XR review.

iPhone XR specs

  • iOS 14
  • 6.1in LCD, 1792x828, 326ppi
  • A12 Bionic processor
  • 64/128GB storage
  • 12Mp camera, f/1.8, OIS
  • 7Mp front facing camera, f/2.2
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Nano SIM with dual eSIM compatibility
  • Haptic Touch
  • IP67
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
  • 194g

iPhone XR deals

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iPhone SE (2020)

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone SE (2020)

Price: From £399/$399
Buy from Apple

Apple's cheapest iPhone is, funnily enough, relatively new, having been launched in the spring of 2020. The iPhone 11 and XR are both older, yet cost more. We answer the question What is the cheapest iPhones here

The reason for the (by Apple's standards) bargain-basement price tag, which gets a small further cut in the UK and some other countries - but not the US - to celebrate the launch of the 12-series, is the number of compromises it contains. Most obviously, the fact that its chassis is virtually identical to the iPhone 8, which came out in 2017 and looked old-fashioned then.

But the innards are much more modern. The SE has a much better and quicker processor than the 8 (the A13 rather than the A11). This doesn't just improve its ability to run demanding apps and install iOS updates far into the future (although both are true), but thanks to the built-in neural engine it should also yield improvements to photograph quality - including Portrait Mode - and longer battery life. 

Read more in our iPhone SE (2020) review.

iPhone SE (2020) specs

  • iOS 14
  • A13 Bionic processor
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB of storage
  • 4.7in (1334x750 at 326ppi) display, 625 nits brightness, 1400:1 contrast, True Tone
  • 12Mp (f/1.8) rear-facing camera with flash, Portrait mode, 4K video
  • 7Mp (f/2.2) front-facing camera, Portrait mode
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging
  • Apple Pay
  • No headphone jack
  • 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
  • 148g

The SE (2020) is the only model here that we haven't tested ourselves, and that's because it's so new: it isn't even available for preorder yet. We'll post a review as soon as samples become available.

iPhone SE deals

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Buying an iPhone on contract

The two most common ways to buy an iPhone are SIM-free from Apple itself or a third-party reseller (which is where the pricing information throughout this information fits in, because you'll be paying upfront for the phone, you will own it, and you will then need to pay for a SIM-only contract for minutes, texts and data), or buying an iPhone on contract.

A contract usually starts with an upfront payment that will vary depending on the iPhone model you go for and also how much you'll be paying each month. That upfront payment is followed by monthly payments, normally for a total of 24 months, after which you own the phone (in most cases). Those monthly payments also cover data, minutes and texts.

You can find iPhone contracts from the following networks:

You can also find them from the following third-party resellers:

The iPhone Upgrade Programme

Apple offers a scheme called the iPhone Upgrade Programme, where you make an upfront payment of £69 followed by regular monthly payments of between £38 and £64. You can then upgrade to the new iPhone each time one is announced, staying on the same or a very similar plan.

You should be cautious about the value this offers (as the phone is not yours to sell at the end of your contract so you're effectively renting it), but in some circumstances it may be the right approach for you.

It's also important to note that this is for a SIM-free iPhone. You will then need to get a SIM-only contract for your data, minutes and texts.

You do get AppleCare+ included in the Upgrade Programme, though, which is a two year insurance for your iPhone that will cover you for two incidents of accidental damage. You'll still have to pay an excess fee should you need to use it, but it'll be much cheaper than having to cough up the full price of a repair.

You can find out more about the iPhone Upgrade Programme on Apple's website.

Second-hand iPhones

You'll have noticed that buying an iPhone doesn't come cheap. However, if you're strapped for cash you don't have to dismiss the idea of buying an iPhone completely. You may be able to get a good deal on one of the older handsets if someone is looking to sell their current handset. Here's how to buy a second-hand iPhone.

Bear in mind that if you want to run iOS 14 (the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system) you'll need an iPhone 6s or later; the same was true of the previous version, iOS 13. iPhones reaching back to the iPhone 5s can run iOS 12, but that really is quite an old operating system to be running and some features such as AR won't work properly on older models anyway.