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 11 or 11 Pro? Is the new iPhone SE the perfect 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 11 Pro Max 20/09/2019 64GB
256GB
512GB
£1,149/$1,099
£1,299/$1,249
£1,499/$1,449
Apple Store 11 Pro Max details
iPhone 11 Pro 20/09/2019 64GB
256GB
512GB
£1,049/$999
£1,199/$1,149
£1,399/$1,349
Apple Store 11 Pro details
iPhone 11 20/09/2019 64GB
128GB
256GB
£729/$699
£779/$749
£879/$849
Apple Store 11 details
iPhone XR 26/10/2018 64GB
128GB
£629/$599
£679/$649
Apple Store XR details
iPhone SE (2020) 15/04/2020 64GB
128GB
256GB
£419/$399
£469/$449
£569/$549
Apple Store SE details

Is now a good time to buy a new iPhone?

Yes! Apple has just launched the new iPhone SE, and we don't expect any new models until September 2020.

What is the best screen size for iPhone?

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

  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.5in
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8in
  • 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 11 Pro), price and a bulkier handset (11 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 11 Pro Max

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 11 Pro Max

Price: From £1,149/$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 £1,149/$1,099 for the 64GB option, and tops out at an astonishing £1,499/$1,449 for 512GB.

Still, you get what you pay for. In this case that means a glorious 6.5in, 458ppi, True Tone OLED screen, which Apple is branding as Super Retina XDR because the contrast and brightness have been significantly improved from last year's iPhone XS Max.

The A13 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 up by five hours from the XS Max, for an estimated total of 20 hours of wireless video playback.

The real marquee feature, though, is the camera setup. You get a triple-lens camera on the back (telephoto, wide and ultrawide), a brighter flash, Night Mode, 'next-gen' smart HDR, which is supposed to use the A13's power for superior shots in difficult conditions, and a new QuickTake feature where you hold down the shutter button while taking photos and it instantly switches to video.

And, perhaps most importantly for some of the more butter-fingered of our readers, the 11 Pro Max is designed to be very hard to kill. Apple says it's made of the toughest glass in any smartphone, and it's water-resistant to a depth of 4m, up from 2m on the XS Max.

We put all these claims to the test and the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max came through with flying colours - although we debated to what extent they truly justified the 'Pro' designation, given how well the non-Pro 11 model did too. Both the Pro and the Pro Max are covered in our iPhone 11 Pro review.

iPhone 11 Pro Max specs

  • iOS 13
  • 6.5in OLED, 2688x1242, 458ppi
  • A13 Bionic processor
  • 64/256/512GB storage
  • 12Mp/12Mp/12Mp triple-lens camera, f/2.4, f/1.8 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
  • 158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm
  • 226g

iPhone 11 Pro

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 11 Pro

Price: From £1,049/$999
Buy from Apple

Virtually identical to the 11 Pro Max, the 11 Pro suffers only in terms of its screen (5.8in rather than 6.5in) and battery life (up to 18 hours of wireless video playback rather than 20). For those reasons it's cheaper, but these things are relative; it still starts at £1,049/$999, and tops out at £1,399/$1,349 for the 512GB version.

So you still get the super-fast A13 Bionic processor, the new toughened glass exterior and improved water resistance, the triple-lens camera and various other photographic upgrades. And even though the screen is smaller, it shares the 11 Pro Max's improved brightness and contrast.

iPhone 11 Pro specs

  • iOS 13
  • 5.8in OLED, 2436x1125, 458ppi
  • A13 Bionic processor
  • 64/256/512GB storage
  • 12Mp/12Mp/12Mp triple-lens camera, f/2.4, f/1.8 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
  • 144 x 71.4 x 8.1 mm
  • 188g

iPhone 11

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 11

Price: From £729/$699
Buy from Apple

A slight tweak of the branding means the successor to the XR is just called 'iPhone 11' with no R in sight. But don't be fooled: this is the cheaper (although still not cheap) version of the 11-series range, with an LCD screen rather than the nicer OLED of the Pro range, and fewer camera lenses.

The XR, in fact, is still on sale (and has received a handy price cut - see below), which makes it all the more important to be clear about what's changed.

As ever there is a processor upgrade (from A12 to A13), 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 new triple-lens offering on the 11 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 13
  • 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 XR

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone XR

Price: From £629/$599
Buy from Apple
For contracts, visit: Best iPhone XR contracts

The iPhone XR is the only survivor of the 2017/2018 X-series handsets, and got a price cut to celebrate the death of its relatives.

Now, while £629/$599 could never be described as cheap, this price is starting to look distinctly appealing. 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. You also get the still-powerful A12 Bionic chip, which has plenty of life left in it.

Okay, there are some compromises: the XR has an LCD screen rather than the OLED on the 11 Pro (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 13
  • 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 SE (2020)

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone SE (2020)

Price: From £419/$399
See Apple pricing (preorders start 17 April)

Apple's latest iPhone is also, funnily enough, its cheapest. Back by popular demand, the iPhone SE from 2016 adopts a larger form factor for its 2020 encore, now offering a 4.7in display within a chassis that's virtually identical to the iPhone 8, which it replaces in the lineup.

Indeed the similarities with the 8 run deeper than the surface. We've got a detailed comparison elsewhere, but there are really only two differences from that handset that are worth knowing about.

The new 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.

And it's also cheaper, by £60/£50. This might not be the most exciting of Apple's launches, with little new to talk about, but it's a great-value offering with a state-of-the-art processor.

iPhone SE (2020) specs

  • 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
  • 148g
  • 4.7in (1334x750 at 326 ppi) display, 625 nits brightness, 1400:1 contrast, True Tone
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • A13 Bionic processor
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB of storage
  • 12Mp (f/1.8) rear-facing camera with flash, Portrait mode, 4K video
  • 7Mp (f/2.2) front-facing camera, Portrait mode
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging
  • Apple Pay
  • iOS 13
  • No headphone jack (Lightning adapter and Lightning EarPods included)

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.

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 13 (the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system) you'll need an iPhone 6s or later. iPhones reaching back to the iPhone 5s can run the previous version, iOS 12, although some features such as AR won't work properly on older models that don't have powerful enough processors.