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Best iPhone 2021: All the latest Apple phones ranked (including all iPhone 12 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

If you’re on the lookout for a new iPhone then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve reviewed all the latest models in the iPhone 12 lineup to find out which is the definitive best iPhone.

We’re now a few months on from the big 2020 iPhone 12 launch and while there are plenty of iPhone 13 rumours floating about, now is a great to for an upgrade as these currently available phones from Apple are some of the best yet.

We’ve now fully reviewed all four of the new 2020 iPhone 12 models (iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max) and lived with them for the past few months to learn their quirks and discover any hidden issues. You’ll find all these models in the list below.

And if you’re still looking for a phone and have decided the Apple line-up isn’t perhaps right for you, take a look at our broader guide to the best mobile phones. We’ve got you covered if you’re a fan of Google’s software too, with a look at the best Android phones.

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 12 Pro

The best iPhone
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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

Sitting at the top of our best iPhone list is the iPhone 12 Pro and while the iPhone 12 is excellent, you’ll want to go for the Pro if you’re after the best of everything Apple currently has 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.

The biggest missing feature is a ProMotion 120Hz display, something you won’t find on any iPhone in our list but across a wide range of best mid-range phones. 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

Best overall iPhone 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

While it’s not the best iPhone when it comes to specs and features, the iPhone 12 is probably the model most people should buy. It’s slightly pricier than the iPhone 11, but it inherits lots of things previously exclusive to the Pro models.

These include a new OLED panel with a higher resolution and HDR support (still at 60Hz, though) which makes for some very colourful Netflix streams, a new design reminiscent of the iPhone 5 and an overall lighter, smaller feel. As we said in our review, this might be the perfect iPhone.

Inside you’ll find the very 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 new 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

If you want the biggest iPhone, this is the one
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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 Pro and adds in a much bigger 6.7-inch display and far improved battery life. If you love big iPhones and want the best features around, the 12 Pro Max is the one for you.

Another 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.

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 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 12 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 12 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

1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
Time from 0-50% charge
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 5 single core

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