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Best iPhone 2021: The latest Apple phones ranked (including the new iPhone 13 models)

There's a huge range of iPhones in all sorts of specs and sizes. Trusted Reviews reveals the right iPhone for your needs and budget

Introduction

Apple recently launched it’s latest batch of smartphones with the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Mini, but that doesn’t mean its older phones have been cast aside. We’ve tested the new iPhones to determine which is the best model available right now.

Of the iPhones released in September, we’ve dished out full reviews for three of them – the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Check back in with Trusted Reviews later to read our verdict on the iPhone 13 Mini.

Along with the new phones, this list also includes older handsets like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 series, along with top mid-range picks like the much more affordable iPhone SE 2.

For some people, an Apple phone is the obvious choice. For others, our guide to the best Android phones will be more helpful. 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 to both operating systems.

How we test

Learn more about how we test mobile phones

Every phone we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, screen accuracy, battery life, performance and camera prowess.

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how much battery it loses per hour streaming video.

We also make sure to use every phone we review as our primary handset for at least 4 days to ensure our review is as accurate as possible. You can see a more detailed breakdown of our testing methodology in our how we test phones guide.

iPhone 13 Pro

The best iPhone
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Pros

  • Great to finally see a 120Hz display on an iPhone
  • Good battery life
  • Seriously impressive camera system

Cons

  • Other phones have better zoom
  • The notch feels dated

The iPhone 13 Pro is the best iPhone available right now, offering Apple’s most complete package yet with a handful of advancements over the iPhone 13.

This includes a faster 120Hz ProMotion display, a telephoto camera, a longer-lasting battery, more storage and a faster CPU. Everything else, including the sizes of the phones, are pretty much the same. With that said, the improvements here are excellent.

This is the first time we’ve seen an iPhone with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, helping Apple keep up with its Android competitors. The handset also has the best battery life we’ve ever seen on the smallest Pro iPhone.

The camera array consists of a 12-megapixel (f/1.5) wide lens, a 12-megapixel (f/1.8) ultra-wide lens and a 12-megapixel (f/2.8) telephoto lens, allowing the phone to take advantage of 6x optical zoom and 15x digital zoom.

There’s also Apple ProRes video support, along with a LiDAR scanner for portraits in Night Mode, faster autofocus in low lighting and advanced AR experiences.

The 13 Pro is powered by Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chipset, which includes a six-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine and a five-core GPU. Finally, there’s up to 1TB of storage for the first time in an iPhone.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 13 Pro review

iPhone 13

The best iPhone if you haven’t upgraded in a few years
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Pros

  • Much improved battery life
  • Bright, vivid OLED display
  • Excellent main camera

Cons

  • No ProMotion
  • No optical zoom

Next up is Apple’s iPhone 13, the best overall iPhone if you’re shopping around for your first upgrade in a number of years. This is because Apple offers a number of updates over previous years without a Pro price.

The iPhone 13 features a vivid 6.1-inch OLED display and a 20% smaller notch over past generations.

The phone is powered by the new A15 Bionic with a six-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine and a four-core GPU, along with up to 512GB of storage. The more efficient A15 also offers significant battery life improvements.

The dual camera is the best you’ll find at this price, with a 12-megapixel (f/1.6) wide lens and a 12-megapixel (f/2.4) ultra-wide lens capable of recording 4K 60fps video with support for Dolby Vision.

The phone doesn’t pack the telephoto lens available on the 13 Pro meaning there’s no optical zoom, but it does feature 5x digital zoom.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 13 review

iPhone 13 Pro Max

The biggest iPhone for 2021
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Pros

  • Huge screen is gorgeous
  • Three very good cameras
  • Really impressive battery life
  • ProMotion finally on an iPhone

Cons

  • Selfie camera needs an upgrade
  • Notch feels tired
  • Other phones have better zoom

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the biggest iPhone in the current generation, making it the best choice if you’re looking for a Pro with a more spacious display. However, it does come at a cost as the only model price at over £1000.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max packs a 6.7-inch OLED display, making it 0.6-inches larger than that of the standard Pro. It also takes advantage of the same 120Hz ProMotion display and the smaller notch found across the iPhone 13 range.

The Pro Max packs the same triple camera array as the Pro, along with the same A15, a five-core GPU and up to 1TB of storage.

Battery life is excellent too, outlasting major releases from Samsung, OnePlus and more mainstream flagship phones this year.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 13 Pro Max review

iPhone 12 Pro

The best iPhone 12 model
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Pros

  • A very welcome redesign
  • Reliable cameras in all situations
  • Accurate HDR display
  • Great size

Cons

  • High refresh rate screen feels sorely missed on the Pro model
  • Pro Max bags the bigger camera upgrades

Before the iPhone 13 event this September, the iPhone 12 Pro was the best phones Apple had to offer.

Improvements over the regular 12 include more RAM, a slightly brighter screen, stainless steel sides, an extra camera on the back alongside LIDAR for faster low-light focusing and 128GB storage as standard. Things like screen resolution, battery life, main camera quality and design are all very much the same.

On the back of the iPhone 12 Pro there are three cameras. All three are 12MP and take strong shots in a load of situations. The zoom is similar to the iPhone 11 Pro and the ultrawide now benefits from the Night Mode. The main sensor has a slightly wider f/1.6 aperture than the previous-gen iPhones which lets more light in, again helping when you’re in tricky situations.

Inside the 12 Pro you’ll find the very fast Apple A14 Bionic chipset, support for 5G network and 6GB RAM. There are some hefty storage options too, up to 512GB but not the 1TB found on the 13 Pro.

The biggest missing feature here was the ProMotion 120Hz display, something you’ll now be able to find on the iPhone 13 Pro and the 13 Pro Max. Having a faster – that’s anything above the standard 60Hz – display makes scrolling smoother and games more responsive.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 12 Pro review

Apple iPhone 12

The best iPhone 12 for most people
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Pros

  • Fantastic new design
  • Very reliable cameras
  • Execptional performance

Cons

  • Screen lacks some of the benefits you’ll find elswhere
  • The notch remains annoying

Last year, we said the iPhone 12 was the model most people should buy as it inherited a lot of features previously exclusive to the Pro line. However, this title has since been succeeded by the iPhone 13.

Improvements on the 12 included a new OLED panel with a higher resolution and HDR support (still at 60Hz, though) which makes for some very colourful Netflix streams, a design reminiscent of the iPhone 5 and an overall lighter, smaller feel.

Inside you’ll find the fast Apple A14 Bionic chipset, support for 5G networks and a base 64GB storage. Pay more and you can get 128GB and 256GB options too. We’ve been impressed with the battery life and you can charge it via the MagSafe charger. You don’t get a charger in the box though (just a cable) so prepare to splurge for one separately.

On the back there are two cameras. Both are 12MP and take great shots. The ultra wide is similar to the iPhone 11, save for the addition of Night Mode, and the main sensor has a slightly wider f/1.6 aperture. Low light photos are better than the iPhone 11 series and you can shoot bright, colourful HDR Dolby Vision video too.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full Review: iPhone 12 review

iPhone 12 Pro Max

For those who want the biggest iPhone 12
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Pros

  • Striking new design
  • Excellent quality screen
  • One of the best phone cameras going
  • Actual multi-day battery life

Cons

  • Flat design doesn’t suit the size as much as the 12 Pro
  • Camera only marginally stronger than other iPhone 12 models
  • Lacks a high refresh-rate screen

The iPhone 12 Pro Max takes all the features of the smaller 12 Pro and adds in a much bigger 6.7-inch display and far improved battery life.

One big difference between this and the other Pro is the camera. Not only do you have a slightly more zoomed-in tele camera, but the main 12MP sensor is far larger and as a result it’s quicker and more successful in lower-light conditions.

We’re not saying the pictures are always noticeably better than the 12 Pro, however in certain cases they are and this should only improve further when Apple’s ProRAW feature arrives before the year is out.

We love the big screen too, even if the lack of a 120Hz mode is felt most here. Still, HDR content looks glorious, it remains very responsive and the notch is easy to forget when the display is so big.

Big display equals big phone and if not you’re comfortable with the larger size you’re going to struggle here. This is a huge phone and even more so when a case is added. 

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full Review: iPhone 12 Pro Max review

Apple iPhone 12 Mini

Best overall iPhone for those longing for a small phone
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Pros

  • Great to see phones this size make a return
  • No feature sacrifices for the smaller display
  • Great camera with excellent video
  • Lovely new design

Cons

  • Battery life is notably worse than other iPhone 12 models
  • Notch seems more irritating on the smaller screen
  • You’ll want to buy a charger separately

Everything that we mentioned above for the iPhone 12 above is valid for the iPhone 12 mini here. This is very much a smaller version of that phone, with the same camera, internal specs and 5G support. It even looks the same, just a lot smaller.

However, it’s since been succeeded by the iPhone 13 Mini.

With the iPhone 12 mini you’ve got a 5.4-inch display (still OLED, HDR etc) which is far smaller than the 6.1-inch 12. It has a smaller battery, and we noticed far less endurance here than with the other models.

Still, if you’ve been after a small phone that doesn’t sacrifice much the iPhone 12 mini is perfect.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 12 mini review

iPhone 11

A great iPhone now even cheaper
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Pros

  • Great camera
  • Strong battery life
  • Nice colour variety
  • Good value

Cons

  • Screen resolution is a bit low
  • Notch remains

The iPhone 11 entered the scene in 2019 as a clear successor to the iPhone XR, bringing the same wide appeal with a well-deserved new title. The phone immediately established itself as the best choice for most users, offering great, flagship specs at a friendlier price than the Pro and Pro Max models. With the release of the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11 has received a price cut and is still a good buy.

The iPhone 11 has two cameras on the back, both packing 12-megapixels, with one taking your standard shots and the other expanding that out into ultrawide shots. The results are good and the 2x telephoto lens is the only real thing missing when you compare this to the pricier Pro model.

Battery life and performance are both excellent, too. You should easily get through the day without reaching for the Lightning cable and there’s wireless charging available too.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 11 review

iPhone 11 Pro

Best if you want a big iPhone right now
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Pros

  • Great camera
  • Long battery life, especially on the Plus model
  • Stunning displays
  • Finally a fast charger in the box

Cons

  • 64GB still the base storage
  • Incredibly pricey

Like the iPhone 11, the Pro and Pro Max time in the sun is setting, with the 12 Pro available now. Still, if you can find the 11 Pro/Max at a discounted price then it’s still a great phone. It’s not sold by Apple anymore, though.

Apple hasn’t played too much with the design formula, instead deciding to focus more on the internals. The A13 Bionic chipset inside remains fast in 2020, while the HDR screen can get incredibly bright.

There’s even an 18w fast charger in the box that’ll juice these phones up a lot quicker than the poor 5w charger previously offered.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone 11 Pro review 
Full review: iPhone 11 Pro Max review

iPhone SE 2

Best for portability
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Pros

  • At $399/£419 this is an excellent buy
  • Flagship performance should keep this speedy for years
  • Great photos in daylight situations
  • Impressive video capabilities
  • Offers a strong proposition for those who don’t want big phones

Cons

  • Battery life is far from excellent
  • A new design would’ve been welcome

If you want a small iPhone with a great camera, top performance and a price tag that’s surprisingly appealing then the new iPhone SE 2 is a great pick.

If you’ve seen the iPhone 8, then you’ve seen the new iPhone SE. It comes in black, white or red; packs those chunky bezels surrounding the 4.7-inch (there’s no Plus version here) display and replaces Face ID from the new iPhones with Touch ID. Thankfully the fingerprint authentication is fast and reliable.

Improvements over the iPhone 8 include a superior 12-megapixel camera with fantastic video recording and even though low-light perform isn’t great the snaps you’ll get in good lighting more than make up for that.

You’ll also find Qi charging at the usual iPhone standard of 7.5w and the ability to fast charge at 18w – that is if you shell out a little bit more for the faster plug. An IP67 rating for water and dust resistance is here too.

Inside the iPhone SE 2 you’ll find the same A13 Bionic as the iPhone 11 Pro and the same iOS 13 software. It feels just as fast, and should get full iOS updates for years to come. 

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone SE 2 review

iPhone XR

Best value iPhone
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Pros

  • Great battery life
  • XS features for less money
  • Fantastic performance
  • Very capable camera

Cons

  • No fast charger included
  • Will be too large for some

The iPhone XR is getting a little long in the tooth, but for now if you want to get an affordable big screen iPhone it’s still an option.

It uses the same potent Apple A12 Bionic processor as the XS, runs the same version of iOS (that’s iOS 13) and sports the same primary 12-megapixel OIS-backed camera. The differences are elsewhere: its 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD isn’t quite as arresting as the HDR-capable OLEDs of the XS line but it’s no slouch either. The size also means it reaches a pleasing middle-ground between the other two iPhones that launched in 2019.

The aluminium-framed, glass-backed design supports wireless charging, IP67-certified dust and water resistance and it comes in a host of colours: black, white, blue, coral, yellow and Product:RED (aka, red).

The extended display means Touch ID has gone completely and as the screen’s notch implies, Face ID is now the soup du jour, offering secure facial recognition for unlocking your device, authenticating transactions and when messing around with Animoji and the new Memoji features.

Reviewer: Max Parker 
Full review: iPhone XR review

FAQs

Which iPhones are 5G?

The iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max all support 5G.

What’s the smallest iPhone? 

While the iPhone SE 2 has the smallest display at 4.7-inches, the iPhone 13 Mini is actually the most compact iPhone with the smallest overall dimensions.

Which is the best iPhone?

The best iPhone available right now is the iPhone 13 Pro.

Comparison Specifications

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours
Bin capacity

Trusted Reviews test data

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 straming (online)
1 hour music streaming (offline)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge

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Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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