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Best iPhone 2019: which Apple phone is the best?

Best iPhone 2019
(Image credit: Apple)

Our guide to the very best iPhones has looked very similar for the last 12 months, but everything is set to change soon with the introduction of the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

These three new premium smartphones will likely take our rankings by storm: the Pro devices have the most impressive specs we've seen in an iPhone so far, and the base iPhone 11 has a really competitive price, so we can't count it out just yet.

Currently Apple's 2018 collection of iPhones takes the top few spots of this list, but this'll certainly change soon.

We've got our hands on the new iPhones to test them out briefly, but we're not going to add them to our best iPhone list until we've used them for a while. This lets us decide for sure where the smartphones belong in the list.

When our full in-depth reviews go live, this list will see some shake-ups though, so expect that in the near future. But the entire slate of top iPhones will benefit from the new iOS 13 update, which is live, adding Dark Mode and other quality-of-life upgrades.

The new iPhone range also saw a shake-up in Apple's official iPhone line-up, and now it's got a spectrum of handsets covering all price points – as well as a mounting graveyard of discontinued handsets. You can still pick up the 'discontinued' iPhones at various retailers and carriers, but the 'official' ones will be easy to come by.

The best iPhones aren't necessarily the newest, but Apple consistently provides meaty hardware and software upgrades when it introduces brand-new iPhones, so previously we've found newer means better.

Naming a best iPhone isn't as simple as looking at plain specifications, because value and usability aren't defined so easily – and even those metrics get changed since the best iPhone deals can sway the value of each device.

As such, we've taken the time to use each iPhone extensively in order to compare all the features and functions that new and older iPhones provide. We've snapped with their cameras, played many games, and weighed the value you get for the price.

So without further ado, here is our list of the best iPhones on the market right now, bearing in mind that the clock is ticking before this list gets completely overhauled.

Best iPhone: which one should you buy today

iPhone 11 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

1. iPhone 11

The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck

Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 828 x 1792 | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: Unknown | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Great value
Fast speeds at a discount
Ultrawide lens is far better than telephoto
Still an LCD screen
Glass back attracts fingerprints

The iPhone 11 isn't the highest-spec Apple phone, but it supersedes the iPhone XR 'budget flagship' in better ways to become the standout phone of its generation in terms of sheer value. 

True, it misses out on a telephoto lens, but like we found with the Samsung Galaxy S10e, a coupling of main and ultrawide lenses serve most photo needs. While it doesn't get an OLED display, its LCD screen at least allows the phone to keep its best-in-generation battery life crown. And it even gets a bit more RAM - up to 4GB from its predecessor's 3GB.

Add in iOS 13 and all the new tweaks coming in the iPhone 11 series and this phone is a lean, mean, photo-taking machine - and all for $699, the cheapest an iPhone has debuted since the iPhone 8.

Read our in-depth iPhone 11 review.

(Image credit: Future)

2. iPhone 11 Pro Max

Big phone, best phone, top price

Weight: 226g | Dimensions: 158 x 77.8 x 8.1mm | OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 1242 x 2688 | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: Unknown | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP+12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Three rear cameras
Fastest, best iPhone out there
Even more battery
Expensive
Mostly unchanged

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is not only a confusing shift in naming convention - it's the biggest, fastest, baddest iPhone out there. It's also the most expensive at $1,099 starting price, which only goes up if you expand storage.

Not much has changed from the iPhone XS Max, aside from the upgraded camera suite - but then again, adding an ultrawide lens is a big upgrade. The photo software has been upgraded, too, and switching between zoom levels is far smoother here than in other phones.

The battery level has been improved a staggering 4 hours over the iPhone XS Max, according to Apple. And if you can get beyond the truly weird-looking triple-lens rear camera block, this is truly the most powerful iPhone out there.

Read our in-depth iPhone 11 Pro Max review.

Best iPhone 2019

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3. iPhone 8

The newest 4.7-inch iPhone is a phone lots of people still want

Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Wireless charging is useful
Camera is great at point-and-shoot
Limited upgrade over iPhone 7
Bezel-heavy design looks dated

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

Best iPhone 2019

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4. iPhone 8 Plus

A more affordable, big screen iPhone

Weight: 202g | Dimensions: 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2,691mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Wireless charging
Longer battery life
Dated design
Expensive

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

Best iPhone 2019

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5. iPhone XR

The best iPhone for those looking for great battery life

Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1792 x 828 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128256GB | Battery: 2,942mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Great battery life for an iPhone
Lower price tag and fun colors
Some apps still not fully optimized
Lower-res screen

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

Best iPhone 2019

6. iPhone SE

Compact, relatively affordable and still quite powerful

Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.0-inch | Resolution: 1136 x 640 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64GB | Battery: 1,624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Great power
Lower price
Tired design
Old screen technology

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

Best iPhone 2019

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7. iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is still a big, speedy phone

Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 1242 x 2688 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 3,179mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Great big screen for games and movies
Camera is strong for an iPhone
Price: most expensive iPhone ever
Size can make it tricky to handle

The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy right now. It's Apple's biggest and best iPhone – if your hands and wallets are 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

Best iPhone 2019

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8. iPhone XS

The best iPhone for those looking for something more compact

Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125 x 2436 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 2,659mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Smart HDR helps the camera
Faster operation in one hand vs Max
Battery life not world-beating
Still very expensive

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

Best iPhone 2019

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9. iPhone X

The iPhone that changed the range

Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125 x 2436 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2,716mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Brilliant screen
Powerful innards
Smart TrueDepth camera
Incredibly expensive

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

Best iPhone 2019

10. iPhone 7

The first water-resistant iPhone

Weight: 138g | Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: Apple A10 Fusion | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: 1,960mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Good low light camera
Water resistant
Lacks clear upgrades
Same design for last three years

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

Best iPhone 2019

11. iPhone 7 Plus

2016's best iPhone, for a lower price

Weight: 188g | Dimensions: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: 2,900mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Heaps of power for slick performance
Excellent camera
Very expensive
No headphone jack

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

Best iPhone 2019

12. iPhone 6S

The best iPhone from 2015

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 1,715mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great design
3D Touch impresses
Battery life low
Price high for a low-res screen

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