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Best iPhone 2022: which Apple phone is for you?

Best iPhones
(Image credit: TechRadar / Apple)

Even if you know you want an iPhone, choosing the best iPhone can be easier said than done, as there are lots of options, at lots of price points, aimed at lots of different types of people.

From the new iPhone SE (2022) to the high-end iPhone 13 Pro Max (which also ranks among the best smartphones), to older and smaller models, there are plenty to choose from.

But that's where this guide comes in, as we've reviewed every single iPhone (and hundreds of other phones besides) and we know what makes them tick, and which ones are best.

So with that in mind - and with a particular focus on key factors such as their screens, power, cameras and battery life - we've created this guide to the best iPhones.

We've ranked our picks below, but we've also included an overview and a specs list for each, so you can quickly see if they'll be a good fit for you or not.

If none of them seem ideal - don't worry. The iPhone 14 range is landing later this year, so you can always check back then and see how those phones rank.

Or if you're not committed to the Apple ecosystem, then check out our guides to the best Android phones, the best camera phones, or the best cheap phones.

Best iPhone: which one should you buy today?

An iPhone 13 Pro Max being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best Apple iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 240g
Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1284 x 2778
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: Up to 28 hours
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Useful camera upgrades
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
120Hz screen is minimal upgrade
-
Cinematic mode is quite basic

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best and most exciting of Apple’s iPhone 13 range, with the battery life being an unexpected highlight. This thing can last and last, and while it’s not quite up there with the very longest-lasting phones, it’s easily got the best battery life of any iPhone.

There’s also a whole lot of power here, with Apple’s A15 Bionic chipset providing significantly better performance not just than previous iPhones, but also than any Android phone. That said, we mostly know this thanks to benchmark scores – in the real world most users will struggle to truly tap into its potential.

The camera has also seen an upgrade, with low light shots particularly impressing, and the new macro mode opening the iPhone range up to a whole new type of photography.

In practice the hyped Cinematic mode and 120Hz screen didn’t impress us as much, and the sooner Apple gets rid of the notch the better, but overall this is a fantastic upgrade for Apple’s Max model, and it's one of the very best iPhones.

Read our in-depth iPhone 13 Pro Max review

An iPhone 13 being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck

Specifications

Weight: 174g
Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: Up to 19 hours
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Strong battery life
+
Powerful internals

Reasons to avoid

-
Minimal design changes
-
No 120Hz screen

The iPhone 13 isn’t the biggest yearly iPhone upgrade we’ve seen, but almost every aspect of it is a little better than the iPhone 12, which makes it a brilliant iPhone overall.

In our review we found that the battery life in particular was improved, with the iPhone 13 making it through every day that we used it without needing a top up before bed.

We were also impressed by the design, which now includes a smaller notch, and by the sheer amount of power this phone has thanks to its A15 Bionic chipset. Apple claims this has a 50% faster CPU than the competition, and while that’s hard to confirm, this is certainly a speedy phone.

The lack of a 120Hz screen which we’ve seen debut on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is a shame, and we’re hoping for some bigger upgrades in the iPhone 14, but for now this is one of the very best iPhones you can buy, as well as being one of the best value ones, since it undercuts most of the iPhone 13 range.

Read our in-depth iPhone 13 review

An iPhone 13 Pro being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best small-screen Pro model

Specifications

Weight: 204g
Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: Up to 22 hours
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Strong battery life
+
Great performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited design changes
-
4K ProRes limited in 128GB

The iPhone 13 Pro has most of the same strengths and weaknesses as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, with its battery life being a highlight in our tests, if not quite as good as the Max model, and its A15 Bionic chipset providing stunning amounts of power.

The camera has also benefitted from some subtle but significant upgrades, including an all-new macro mode, for taking clear photos of tiny subjects. Elsewhere, you also get a 120Hz screen for the first time on an iPhone (though this feature is also found on the iPhone 13 Pro Max), and a slightly refined design – including a smaller notch.

All of which makes this one of the best iPhone choices if you want a relatively compact 6.1-inch display, or don’t want to spend as much as the iPhone 13 Pro Max costs. That said, the iPhone 13 Pro is still expensive, and not hugely better than the iPhone 12 Pro, so if you own that phone it’s probably not worth upgrading.

Read our in-depth iPhone 13 Pro review

An iPhone SE (2022) being held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 144g
Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 4.7-inch
Resolution: 750 x 1334
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 2,018mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful for the cost
+
A 5G iPhone that's still affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Starts at only 64GB storage
-
Screen is cramped

The iPhone SE (2022) is the best cheap iPhone, as well as being the first - and at the time of writing only – mid-range iPhone to support 5G.

That’s a major selling point, and a second big selling point is the presence of the same A15 Bionic chipset as you’ll find in the iPhone 13 range, meaning this has more power than most Android flagships, despite costing far less.

With a slim, lightweight build too and a compact display and design, the iPhone SE (2022) is also a great choice for anyone who wants a smaller iPhone – though it can’t quite match the iPhone 13 mini there.

Its design is at this point very dated though, thanks to big bezels above and below the display, and it’s more expensive than its predecessor despite still being affordable. If not for those issues this might rank even higher.

Read our in-depth iPhone SE (2022) review

An iPhone 13 mini being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best small iPhone out there

Specifications

Weight: 131g
Dimensions: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 5.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/
Battery: 2,438 mAh
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous design
+
Great hardware

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited charging compatibility 
-
Higher price than previous model

The iPhone 13 mini is arguably the best small phone on the market thanks to a gorgeous compact design and some great hardware under the hood, and it's certainly the best small iPhone. 

Its 5.4-inch Super Retina XRDR OLED screen is smaller than many smartphones, but that means the phone fits comfortably in your hand and is easy to use single-handed. It looks great too, being notably brighter than the iPhone 12 mini before it.

The camera is similarly improved with a 12MP f/1.6 wide camera with 1.7µm pixels for better low-light performance, and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera with 120-degree field of view. Low-light performance is remarkably good on this camera too. 

All backed up with Apple's A15 Bionic chipset, the iPhone 13 mini is small yet quite mighty and a great option for small phone lovers. 

Read our in-depth iPhone 13 mini review

An iPhone SE (2020) being held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
The best 4G budget iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 148g
Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
OS: iOS 14
Screen size: 4.7-inch
Resolution: 750 x 1334
CPU: A13 Bionic
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 1,821mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
Cheapest ever iPhone
+
Lightweight frame

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
Old screen technology

Unveiled in April 2020, the 2nd gen iPhone SE may look like an older iPhone but it comes with a lot of benefits over the rest of the range. The chief reason you may want to buy this is that it's one of the cheapest widely available iPhones right now.

It comes with the same design as the iPhone 8, but this has upgraded internals such as an A13 Bionic chipset that is the same we've seen powering the iPhone 11 range.

It also comes with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which is something we haven't seen on recent iPhones. The camera is good on this phone, but won't compete with the very top iPhones, and we found it has an average battery life too.

Overall, if you're looking for a cheaper alternative to the devices you've read about above and are fine with 4G, you'll love the iPhone SE (2020). But if you need 5G then consider the iPhone SE (2022) instead.

Read our in-depth iPhone SE review

An iPhone 12 being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A great iPhone for 5G on a budget

Specifications

Weight: 164g
Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mm
OS: iOS 14
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532
CPU: A14 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
Battery: Unknown
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Colorful OLED display 
+
Future-proofed with 5G  

Reasons to avoid

-
Cameras are similar to last year 
-
Battery life only okay 

More expensive than the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 makes up for that price hike with a wealth of features that should prove useful in the coming months and years. 

That includes future-proofing courtesy of 5G support and the addition of MagSafe connectivity which enables you to attach things to your phone such as a charger or a case. 

We found the camera was a little too similar to the previous year's iPhone and the battery life remains merely okay, but there's no denying that the iPhone 12 is a superior beast than the phones that have come before. 

Design wise, it's returned to some of the stylings of the iPhone 4 or 5 and that's actually a good thing, feeling comfier in your hands. There's also the overdue switch to a colorful OLED display which reminds us again that Apple knows how to create a stylish looking as well as future-proof device.

Read our in-depth iPhone 12 review

An iPhone 12 Pro Max being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best relatively affordable big-screen iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 228g
Dimensions: 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm
OS: iOS 14
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1284 x 2778
CPU: A14 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: Unknown
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Long battery life
+
Powerful rear camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Feels too large
-
Camera not hugely better than the 12 Pro

The iPhone 12 Pro Max was once the best iPhone you could buy, and we loved everything it can do. It takes a lot of what makes the rest of the iPhone 12 range so good and just tweaks a few elements to make it even better.

So why is it so low in our list of the top iPhones? The sheer size of this handset means it won't be for everyone, and it's no longer the latest Pro Max model - though that means it's now a cheaper way to get a big screen iPhone.

If you're happy with something that's not brand new, and you want a phone with a mammoth 6.7-inch screen then you'll be happy with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in your pocket. A lot of what we've said about the iPhone 12 Pro is true here, but there are a few benefits.

We found the battery life is better in the iPhone 12 Pro Max when compared to most of the other iPhones on this list, and you'll also find it has a slightly more powerful rear camera than even the iPhone 12 Pro.

Read our in-depth iPhone 12 Pro Max review

An iPhone 12 mini being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A great mini iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 135g
Dimensions: 131.5mm x 64.2mm x 7.4mm
OS: iOS 14
Screen size: 5.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: A14 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
Battery: Unknown
Rear camera: 12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Smaller design looks great
+
Fantastic display

Reasons to avoid

-
64GB isn't enough storage
-
Battery life only okay 

With the iPhone 12 mini, Apple introduced an iPhone mini for the first time in its history of making handsets, and it's almost exactly the same as the iPhone 12 but it's smaller, making it one of the best compact iPhones.

There are a number of tiny spec differences between this and the standard iPhone 12 - for example, wireless charging is notably slower on the iPhone 12 mini - but otherwise you're getting high-end specs such as the powerful rear camera, 5G support and MagSafe support as well.

We found the design makes this phone easy to hold in a single hand, so if you've been crying out for a smaller iPhone that doesn't lose out on the top-end specs that you get from other Apple devices this may well be for you.

As with the iPhone 12, the display is also fantastic on this handset too. You may not enjoy the battery life as that isn't fantastic on the iPhone 12 mini, but if that's your main focus you'll like some of the other phones on this list.

Read our in-depth iPhone 12 mini review

An iPhone 12 Pro being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A great older Pro

Specifications

Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mm
OS: iOS 14
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532
CPU: A14 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: Unknown
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Varied color choices 
+
Clear and vibrant screen 

Reasons to avoid

-
No charging block in box 
-
Battery could be better

More advanced than the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro is also more expensive and has better specs than the standard model. The internals are better, and there's a superior camera. 

A fourth sensor alongside the standard iPhone 12 fare in the form of a LiDAR scanner makes it easier for the iPhone to work out what it's looking at, and we found it did a great job of detecting faces in low light situations. 

The iPhone 12 Pro also has a RAM boost - up to 6GB from 4GB - and that's sure to help you get the most from whatever you're doing on your phone. If you're looking to edit videos on your phone, the iPhone 12 Pro is ideal for such a purpose. 

Elsewhere, it's business as usual for the iPhone 12 Pro offering much of what the iPhone 12 already has for less, but if you want that extra oomph, it's an impressive upgrade. For a price.

Read our in-depth iPhone 12 Pro review

How to choose the best iPhone for you

A lot of iPhones are quite similar to each other, so choosing which one to buy mostly just means seeing what's different between them and finding the right fit.

All iPhones are powerful, and Apple supports them for a long time, so age and chipset needn't be a big deal, but if you don't want to upgrade for a long time then a newer model with a faster chipset is ideal.

Bigger factors though include the screen size - and bigger isn't always better here. If you want something compact that you can easily slip in a small pocket then consider one of the mini or SE models. But if you plan to do a lot of gaming or video watching then something larger would be better.

Resolution and refresh rate are also worth paying attention to for the optimal visual experience - the higher the better in both cases, so ideal options will have things like a 120Hz refresh rate and a resolution above 1080p.

Camera quality and battery life are important considerations too, and you can't get a full picture of these just from a specs list, so read our full entries above (or click through to our detailed reviews) for insights into how these factors are on each phone.

What is the best iPhone?

The best iPhone is usually one of the latest numbered models, but which one specifically will depend on your needs. If you want a big screen, go for a Pro Max. For top specs in a smaller size, pick a Pro, and if you want to save some money then get a standard model or a mini.

Which iPhone is the best value for money?

The best value for money iPhone is arguably the standard iPhone 13, as this combines high-end specs and a reasonable screen size with a lower price than the Pro models. However, the iPhone SE (2022) is also good value and is worth considering if you're on a tighter budget.

How we tested

We've reviewed every phone on this list, so for each we've passed our expert verdict on them after extensive testing. This testing involved using each phone as our main handset for at least a week, and often longer.

In the process we would explore various use cases, including calls, texts, social media, video streaming, gaming, taking photos and more, with some heavy use days and other lighter ones.

In short, we use it just like you would - be we make sure to test every key feature, as well as running benchmark tests, checking how long it takes to charge, and more.

From that we've then ranked each handset, factoring in price, value, and how they compare to each other, with a particular focus on their screens, designs, battery life, performance, and cameras.

James is Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He's currently most excited about the Samsung Galaxy S22, God of War: Ragnarok and the rumored foldable iPhone.

With contributions from