Home Science & Technology The best Apple smartphones we’ve tested and reviewed

The best Apple smartphones we’ve tested and reviewed

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Introduction

If you’re an Apple fan but aren’t exactly sure which one of the iPhone models is the best option for you, then this list is made for you.

Our expert iPhone reviewers have put this list together after spending countless hours putting all of Apple’s phones through their paces in our set of real-world and lab tests.

These carefully thought out tests ensure key areas such as camera performance, battery life, display and build quality are all up to scratch. We do this so you can trust our advice. We’ve used all of these phones for an extended period of time so we know what it’s like to actually have one of these phones as your personal handset.

If you’re interested in seeing how the iPhone 14 range compares to the other iPhones out there, be sure to check out our pieces on iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13, iPhone 14 vs iPhone 12, iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Plus, so you have an idea of how these new phones stack up against each other directly.

However, if you’ve had a change of heart, or just want to check out the competition, then our guide on the best Android phones could be of interest you instead. We’ve also published a definitive list of the best mobile phones available right now, so make sure to check that out if you’re open-minded about both major operating systems.

Best iPhone at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test mobile phones

Every iPhone we review, whether it’s the cheapest model or the most expensive, gets put through more than 15 tests. These include synthetic benchmark tests that give a good idea of general performance and in-depth camera comparisons between competing devices.

Like every phone we review, the expert tasked with putting the specific iPhone through its paces will use it as their main phone for the review period, transferring across apps, chats and accounts. We feel this gives us a proper view of the device and helps ensure we’re not just repeating headline features from marketing releases.

iPhone 14 Pro

The best iPhone

Pros

  • Great screen that gets very bright outdoors
  • Versatile camera system for both photography and videography
  • Always-on display and Dynamic Island are both neat tricks
  • Additional safety features are always welcome

Cons

  • Not the quickest to charge
  • Zoom photography isn’t on the level of the competition
  • Only really a day of battery life

Picking the very best iPhone is easy this year, as the iPhone 14 Pro stands comfortably over its more affordable sibling thanks to a raft of innovative additions.

During our in-depth review, we noted the strength of the new 48-megapixel along with the very bright screen, sleek design and raft of safety features including Car Crash Detection.

One of the stars of the show you won’t find on other iPhones on this list is the Dynamic Island. Basically a new name for the pill-shaped notch, the Dynamic Island can be seen as a new interaction area that houses things like the current song playing, timers and so on. It’ll also house alerts from apps that utilise the upcoming Live Activities API.

Another feature here that isn’t available on other models is the always-on display. Working in a similar way to the Apple Watch, the display slows down to 1Hz when it’s locked, showing you a dimmed version that’s glanceable when the phone is sitting on a desk. It’s a neat trick, even if it does use more battery than when the screen is turned off.

The three rear cameras take excellent snaps and videos, with more versatility than ever thanks to the ability to shoot 48MP RAW images.

The rest of the phone will be familiar to those who’ve used previous Pro phones. The iPhone 14 Pro looks great, has an IP68 rating, Ceramic Shield and MagSafe charging. 

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full review: Apple iPhone 14 Pro review

iPhone 14 Pro Max

The best for power users

Pros

  • Stunning display
  • Performance that should stay fast for a long time
  • Reliable cameras in all conditions
  • Long battery life
  • Dynamic island is a great idea

Cons

  • No big zoom camera improvements
  • Uncomfy design without a case

You might be looking for an iPhone that can deliver all the very best that Apple has to offer, along with the biggest screen you can fit your hands around as well. No problem: that’s what the iPhone 14 Pro Max is for.

With an enormous 6.7-inch OLED screen, you will feel truly immersed in games and films when you’re using this behemoth of a handset, in a way that smaller-screened devices simply can’t compete with. But the large screen isn’t the only selling point here, because it also can hit the same heights as the iPhone 14 Pro in other regards too.

The triple rear camera is led by that same impressive 48-megapixel sensor, it boasts the uniquely adaptable Dynamic Island at the top of the screen, and it has power to burn thanks to its incredible A16 Bionic processor. Simply put, if you’re looking to go large and you’ve got the wallet to match, then this iPhone should be your first choice.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone 14 Pro Max review

iPhone 14 Plus

Best for battery life

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Light design works well with the big screen
  • Fast and reliable performance

Cons

  • Some sacrifices for a high price
  • No ProMotion
  • No telephoto camera

The iPhone 14 Plus is a new addition to the iPhone family and it is taking the place, in a matter of speaking, of the iPhone 13 Mini. However this year Apple has gone big, instead of small.

In the simplest of terms, this is a bigger version of the iPhone 14 with a larger battery. Everything else is very much the same, including the camera specs, internals and features.

The battery is key here, and that larger cell leads to the best battery on any iPhone 14 model. Actually, of all the iPhones we’ve listed here, this is the one to choose if you want the best endurance.

We also prefer the 6.7-inch screen to the 6.1-inch iPhone 14. It’s a little roomier for games and movies, and less cramped for typing out emails and browsing the web. Importantly, it’s a much lighter phone than the 14 Pro Max and easier to hold as a result.

These differences aside, this is an iPhone 14. It has the A15 Bionic chipset – the same as the iPhone 13 Pro – which is fast and capable, 5G, up to 512GB storage and a very good set of rear cameras.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone 14 Plus review

iPhone 14

The best iPhone for most people

Pros

  • Clever safety features
  • Very good battery life
  • Reliable camera
  • Fun colours

Cons

  • Stuck on a 60Hz display
  • Minimal differences to the iPhone 13

The iPhone 14 Pro might be the best iPhone, but we’d say the iPhone 14 offers arguably better value for a lot of people. It’s a device that’s just as capable in most areas as its “Pro” siblings, but it does make a few sacrifices to hit its lower price. 

There’s no telephoto camera for improved zooming, for example, and the display is simply a 60Hz panel – so it lacks the smoother scrolling you get with the 120Hz panel. If you’re willing to accept these missing features, then we think this phone will suit you down to the ground.

We were happy with the battery life when we reviewed the phone, though like all smaller phones you’ll likely be charging this one every night. As we said in the previous entry, the Pro Max model is the one to pick if you’re a seriously heavy user.

The iPhone 14 is simply a great phone to use; the design is slick and a lot more modern than the iPhone SE 2022, while the size makes it easy to hold and slip in a pocket or a bag. The duo of rear cameras reliably take excellent photos whatever the conditions and, as it runs iOS, it’ll be supported for years to come with software updates.

Apple also still sells the iPhone 13, which remains a good buy if you want to save a little extra money.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone 14 review

iPhone 13 Mini

The best small iPhone

Pros

  • Great camera
  • Better battery life than the previous Mini
  • The most powerful small phone around

Cons

  • No ProMotion
  • No optical zoom
  • Still can’t compete with the other iPhone 13 models for battery life

The iPhone 13 Mini takes everything you’ll find in the iPhone 13 and then shrinks it down to an even smaller size. It has the same duo of rear cameras, the same screen quality and the same overall design as its larger sibling – and it also runs on the same chipset as all the other iPhone 13 handsets in this list, so it boasts 5G and excellent general performance.

We’d recommend this as easily the best small phone on the market, but that said, its diminutive size does introduce a couple of issues. These aren’t necessarily downsides, depending on your point of view, but they’re still factors that might influence your buying decision.

The 5.4-inch display is a lot smaller than the 6.1-inch screen on the iPhone 13. That means the Mini isn’t as suitable for gaming or media binges as the regular-sized iPhone, and it also means that the battery size had to be reduced, so it’s the iPhone 13 with the worst battery life – at least in our tests. If you’re a heavy user, you might be reaching for the charger even before the end of the day based on our experience with the Mini.

Still, there isn’t really anything else like this on the market, and if you prize pocketability above all else, then it is a great choice.

The iPhone 12 Mini is also still on sale too, but we found that this model’s battery life was even worse. If you can afford to spend extra on the updated model, it’s certainly worth it based on our experience with the two phones.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone 13 Mini review

iPhone SE 2022

The best affordable new iPhone

Pros

  • The fastest phone at this price (by some distance)
  • Takes great daylight pictures
  • IP rating and wireless charging
  • iOS and all the benefits that come with it

Cons

  • Small screen is cramped and restrictive
  • Tired design
  • No night mode in the camera

Apple’s cheapest iPhone is also the most confusing. While we like a lot of stuff about the iPhone SE 2022 and it scored well in our overall review, the tired design and slightly dated screen make it a harder proposition than the other phones on this list.

However, on the inside, there’s no doubting that the iPhone SE 2022 is a winner. The A15 Bionic chipset is the same as you’ll find in the 13 Pro Max, and in benchmark tests, it outstripped the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for sheer performance. Considering the price, that’s an impressive feat and it should support software updates for years and years to come, making it a good investment.

We were impressed with the camera here too. The single 12MP unit takes snaps with lovely colour reproduction and accurate skin tones that aren’t too far off what you’d get on the iPhone 13, although the lack of night mode does make it a little tricky to get a great low-light picture.

Battery life is on par with the iPhone 13 Mini and, like all the phones here, it has an IP rating for dust and water resistance along with 5G and wireless charging. You rarely get this collection of premium features on other phones at this price point.

This phone really isn’t for those who want a phone with a great screen. The 4.7-inch panel is dinky, not nearly as bright or sharp as the 13 series, and comes with chunky black bars on either side to boot. It feels rather old fashioned, although the home button is nice for navigation and quick unlocking.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone SE 2022 review

We also considered…

FAQs

Which iPhones have 5G?

All the iPhones in this list come with some form of 5G. However, the supported bands can vary so it’s best to check with your carrier or network to see which bands and forms of 5G they support.

Do any of these iPhones come with a charger?

No – Apple has removed the charger from the box of all its iPhones. You’ll need to buy it separately or else use an old one.

Which is the smallest iPhone?

While the iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch screen is the smallest, the iPhone 13 Mini is the smallest overall device.

What is the most recent iPhone?

The most recent iPhone is the iPhone 14 series, which were first available to order in September 2022.

All the best iPhone specs

Compare all the most important specs from all the iPhones in our list.

UK RRP

USA RRP

EU RRP

CA RRP

AUD RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

Storage Capacity

Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video Recording

IP rating

Wirless charging

Fast Charging

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

Operating System

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Resolution

HDR

Refresh Rate

Ports

Chipset

RAM

Colours

Stated Power

Trusted Reviews test data

Apple does a great job at keeping performance the same across all phones, so you’re getting strong speeds whether you go for the cheapest iPhone or the priciest.

Geekbench 5 single core

Geekbench 5 multi core

sRGB

Adobe RGB

DCI-P3

Max brightness

1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)

30 minute gaming (intensive)

30 minute gaming (light)

1 hour music streaming (online)

1 hour music streaming (offline)

Time from 0-100% charge

Time from 0-50% charge

3D Mark – Wild Life

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