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?

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 8 Plus 22/09/2017 64GB
128GB
£579/$549
£629/$599
Apple Store 8 Plus details
iPhone 8 22/09/2017 64GB
128GB
£479/$449
£529/$499
Apple Store 8 details

Is now a good time to buy a new iPhone?

Yes! The new iPhone collection is now available to buy, having gone on sale on 20 September 2019. 

What is the best screen size for iPhone?

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

  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.5in
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8in
  • iPhone 11: 6.1in
  • iPhone XR: 6.1in
  • iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5in
  • iPhone 8: 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), older tech (the XR), a bulkier handset (8 Plus) or a combination of the three (11 Pro Max). You will probably need to compromise.

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
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This is the emperor: the new 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 comparatively humble 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 superfast 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 gets a price cut to celebrate the death of its relatives.

Now, while £629/$599 could never be described as cheap, this latest 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 8 Plus

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 8 Plus

Price: From £579/$549
Buy from Apple
For contracts, visit: Best iPhone 8 Plus contracts

Launched at the same time as the iPhone X, the 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus is the direct successor to the 7 Plus, which has now been discontinued. It has a glass design and wireless charging, as well as the A11 Bionic chip - naturally this is a lot slower than the A13 in the iPhone 11 handsets but it should still do the job if your needs are light: email, surfing the web, checking social media, graphically undemanding games.

Blessed with a tasty price cut to celebrate the 2019 launches, the iPhone 8 Plus is now the choice for those who are on a budget but would still like a reasonably large screen. Just bear in mind that for £50/$50 more you can get the iPhone XR, which is a year newer and has a 6.1in screen.

The 8 Plus also misses out on the newer models' edge-to-edge screen designs, and Face ID (although it does get a Home button and Touch ID, which some people are not keen to leave behind).

iPhone 8 Plus specs

  • 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm
  • 202g
  • 5.5in Retina HD display, 1920 x 1080 pixels at 401ppi
  • Splash, water and dust resistant
  • A11 Bionic chip
  • 12Mp wide-angle and telephoto cameras on the rear
  • Optical zoom
  • Digital zoom up to 10x
  • Portrait Mode
  • Portrait Lighting
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash with slow sync
  • Panorama
  • HDR
  • 4K video recording at 30fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30fps or 60fps
  • Slo-mo and time-lapse
  • 7Mp front-facing camera
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging
  • Apple Pay
  • iOS 13
  • No headphone jack (Lightning adapter and Lightning EarPods included)

Read our iPhone 8 Plus review

iPhone 8

Best iPhone buying guide: iPhone 8

Price: From £479/$449
Buy from Apple
For contracts, visit: Best iPhone 8 contracts

The iPhone 8 has a glass design and wireless charging, as well as the A11 processor.

It's available in 64GB and 128GB configurations (the 256GB has been discontinued - if you want that much storage you'll need to buy one of the iPhone 11 models), with the smaller capacity costing £479/$449 and the bigger one costing £529/$499. It's had a nice price cut since the 2019 models were announced.

On the whole we'd probably suggest skipping the iPhone 8 if you've already got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. If you've got an iPhone 6s or older it could be a worthwhile upgrade, particularly if your contract is coming to an end, but you might want to pony up for the newer iPhone XR or (better still) the 11.

The iPhone 8 is certainly worth considering for the 4.7in screen size. It's a desirable form factor if you want a small iPhone, given that the SE is with us no more, and it's now the cheapest phone Apple sells, as well as the smallest.

iPhone 8 specs

  • 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
  • 148g
  • 4.7in Retina HD display, 1334 x 750 pixels at 326ppi
  • Splash, water and dust resistant
  • A11 Bionic chip
  • 12Mp camera on the rear
  • Optical zoom
  • Digital zoom up to 5x
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash with slow sync
  • Panorama
  • HDR
  • 4K video recording at 30fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30fps or 60fps
  • Slo-mo and time-lapse
  • 7Mp front-facing camera
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging
  • Apple Pay
  • iOS 13
  • No headphone jack (Lightning adapter and Lightning EarPods included)

Read our iPhone 8 review.

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.

iPhones reaching back to the iPhone 5s can run iOS 12, although some features such as AR won't work properly on older models that don't have powerful enough processors. If you want to run iOS 13 you'll need an iPhone 6s or later.