Picking the best iPhone got a bit more complicated in late 2018 after Apple launched three new picks in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.
We’ve ranked these three new flagship iPhones, as well as the older handsets, so you can find the best iPhone for you.
Our recommendations round out the top 10 iPhones you can buy (yes, there’s more than 10), because buying the newest might not be your best option if you wanted to save money or don’t want to worry about losing a cutting-edge phone.
For example, 2017’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are still great picks, and you’ll find the iPhone X on sale in certain places for a cheap price – even if you can’t pick one up directly from Apple.
Good news, the top 10 iPhones we recommend run iOS 12, Apple’s latest big operating system update for its devices. It’s therefore a bit different from our prestigious best phones list and the best Android phones list. Apple’s prices vary wildly, but you’ll probably have to treat them as more of an investment than lower-cost Android phones.
Our top iPhone list highlights the different specs, screen sizes, and price points. Each of these handsets has something to offer for every kind of Apple fan – so we’ve boiled down the choices for you in a simple-to-read format.
Best iPhone: which one should you buy today
The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy right now. It’s Apple’s biggest and best iPhone – if you’re hands and wallets and large enough. It has an expansive 6.5-inch OLED screen with HDR10 support to make colors pop. It’s the perfect phone if you want a giant screen.
Behind that huge screen is an improved dual-lens 12MP camera. Apple outfitted it with Smart HDR and increased the sensor size to capture larger pixels. Don’t let that static 12MP number fool you. The iPhone XS Max (like the XS) has new depth-sensing capabilities for adjustable bokeh (background blur) during and after a shot.
The TrueDepth camera returns with faster Face ID recognition, and your 7MP selfies get better depth control and Smart HDR, too. And, of course, Animoji returns with the iOS 12 benefit of having Memoji now.
The iPhone XS Max is more expensive than the iPhone X and iPhone XS that replaces the X, of course. But if you’re paying for it over the course of two years in a contract (or through the Apple Upgrade Program), it’s not that much more month-to-month.
Read our in-depth iPhone XS Max review
Believe it or not, the iPhone XS is Apple’s best ‘small’ phone. It has a 5.8-inch screen, so it’s more one-hand-friendly than the Max, but still a sizable upgrade for some people.
It’s an upgrade over last year’s iPhone X, our previous best iPhone recommendation, though you’ll have to look more closely for the changes – the design isn’t different at all. It has a Smart HDR-capable 12MP camera, enhanced TrueDepth front-facing camera, and a fast A12 Bionic chipset, exactly like the larger iPhone XS Max.
In fact, this all-screen phone is pretty much the iPhone XS Max in last year’s smaller form factor. It does have a smaller battery than the Max and obviously a smaller screen, but you will still capture the same great photos and videos on this device and play the same games. There’s no different there.
Read our in-depth iPhone XS review
The iPhone XR is a great upgrade for the average consumer who doesn’t want to pay for the most expensive iPhone money (a lot of money) can buy. This is Apple’s ‘cheap’ iPhone, at least when it comes to recently launched handsets. It’s also the best iPhone of the new trio for battery life.
It stands out with a variety of iPhone XR colors: Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, Red. This contrasts heavily with the rather muted colors of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Yet it shares the same internal specs: Apple’s fast A12 Bionic chipset and a 12MP dual-lens camera with a single lens on back.
You don’t get the dual-lens camera like you do on a higher-tier iPhone, so you miss out on telephoto shots. But Smart HDR is the real perk to taking great photos, and that’s here.
It’s cheaper, it’s more colorful and it has a big 6.1-inch screen. That’s enough for most people, especially those who aren’t insistent on an impressive OLED screen.
Read our in-depth iPhone XR review
The iPhone X is as impressive as it is expensive, but if you really want the best iPhone today and don’t want to wait for the iPhone XI, this is the one to get today. Millions of Apple fans already have since it launched almost seven months ago. It’s the future of Apple’s smartphone.
It has a large all-screen display, except for a notch cutout at the top that houses a new TrueDepth Camera. This takes selfies to another level and can also map your face to an iPhone X-exclusive Animoji. If you don’t know what that is by now you probably won’t care.
The iPhone X is Apple’s 10th anniversary smartphone and has just about everything iPhone users have been asking for, from a more forward-leaning design to faster specs and new features. You’ll just have to get used to Face ID instead of reaching for that non-existent fingerprint sensor.
Read our in-depth iPhone X review
The iPhone 8 Plus is the best iPhone if you’re not willing to take the plunge into Apple’s proposed smartphone future and need that Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It remains popular due to its screen size, cheaper price and physical home button.
It does have several key features you’ll like, however. It’s among the first iPhones to have both wireless charging and fast charging, and the camera has improved. Its dual-lens camera doesn’t have OIS in the telephoto lens (a feature saved for the X), but it’s still a great way to snap a photo at long distances.
It won’t turn nearly as many heads with its bezel-heavy design, but the iPhone 8 Plus is the iPhone built for big hands and slightly smaller wallets than the new iPhone X.
Read our in-depth iPhone 8 Plus review
This is actually the best-selling iPhone from Apple, and for several good reasons. First, we get it, you refuse to budge from the 4.7-inch iPhone screen size and, frankly, we don’t blame you. Every time we go back to this iPhone with ‘normal’ dimensions, we feel like we just went on a smartphone vacation. Second, its price is way more reasonable for a lot a folks than the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus.
Just because the size is the same as iPhones of old, doesn’t mean the technology behind it is, though. The iPhone 8 features the same A11 Bionic chipset as the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, and it too debuted wireless charging and fast charging on an Apple smartphone.
The camera is still fantastic, even if it doesn’t have the dual-lens capabilities that are exclusive to the X and Plus, and you’ll dig iOS 11 at this size more so than the even smaller iPhone SE.
Read our in-depth iPhone 8 review
Back in 2016 the iPhone 7 Plus was the best phone Apple had ever made, and it remains a winner for its longevity and price. It’s larger than the iPhone X though despite its smaller display, so if you’re after a smaller phone with a bigger screen, this won’t be the best choice for you with its 5.5-inch 1080p display.
The big upgrades over older iPhones are the waterproof design and a new dual-lens camera that allows you to snap with two 12MP lenses at the same time. It allows for better optical zoom as well as a bokeh mode to blur the background of your photos and put the main focus on the foreground.
Battery life on the iPhone 7 Plus is much improved upon the iPhone 6S Plus, and while it’s still a costly option it’s much cheaper than it was at launch, making it one of the best iPhone choices for people looking for a deal.
Read the full iPhone 7 Plus review
Despite the iPhone SE’s small size and relatively modest price tag, it’s still an upper mid-range phone. It has the same boxy yet premium design as the metal-clad iPhone 5S and the same powerful Apple A9 chipset and rear camera as the iPhone 6S.
It lacks the 3D Touch features and higher-resolution front-facing camera of the iPhone 6S and beyond. The screen is also less impressive all round, thanks in large part to a lower contrast ratio. But it compares well to many mid-range handsets.
It’s also the most powerful 4-inch iPhone you can get, so for fans of compact form factors this is an obvious choice. But the best bit is its price, as it’s one of the cheapest iPhones you’ll find on the market and it’s something of a bargain by Apple standards.
Read the iPhone SE review
Don’t fancy the large iPhone 7 Plus above? Why not opt for the iPhone 7, which is a smaller and cheaper alternative.
This was one of the first iPhones to lack a headphone jack, but it does come with a water-resistant design that means your phone is likely to survive the odd dip in the sink rather than just being frazzled right away.
There’s no dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7, but you can still take some absolutely incredible photography with the 12MP sensor.
If you own an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S, you may not see much difference with the this phone but the newer processor and camera tech may be enough to entice you to buy it if you can’t stomach the high price of the iPhone 8.
Read the full iPhone 7 review
The iPhone 6S, as you probably know, is Apple’s flagship from 2015. The Apple A9 chipset and a chunky 2GB of RAM, up from 1GB on the previous model, make it far superior in raw power to 2014’s model and still reasonably speedy by today’s standards, and it’s got some other tricks too.
It has a 12MP rear camera and a tried-and-tested 8MP front-facing camera, which at the time was the best selfie shooter Apple had on a phone.
It does sport largely the same design and screen as the iPhone 6 though and the latter in particular is starting to feel a bit dated in the face of super sharp QHD screens from rivals – and from the newer iPhone X.
This was the first iPhone to sport 3D Touch though, which makes the screen pressure-sensitive and offers new tricks for enhanced emailing and shortcuts around the home screen.
Read the full iPhone 6S review
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