Best iPhone 2019: which Apple phone is right for you?
There’s no doubt that with the recent launch of the iPhone 11 the range of Apple phones is the strongest it has ever been. Which just makes it harder for iPhone upgraders to to decide which one to get.
Luckily we’ve done all the hard work so you don’t have to. We’ve looked at all the iPhones currently available on the market, and based on our thorough, independent testing, ranked them all according to who and what they are best suited to.
This plethora of iPhone models ranges across a number of price points and sizes (complicated by the recent price cut to the recent iPhone XR) and includes the pocketable iPhone SE and of course the sizeable new iPhone 11. So choosing the right model is a more complicated business.
Below, we’ve summarised the best options for you in a handy list, but if you scroll down further down the page, you’ll find a longer overview, plus a link to the full, comprehensive reviews.
- Best iPhone for most people: iPhone 11
- Best iPhone for performance: iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
- Best value iPhone: iPhone XR
- Still a powerful performer: iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
- Best for iPhone X features on a budget: iPhone 8 Plus
- Best iPhone for compactness: iPhone SE
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1. iPhone 11
Best overall iPhone for most people
- Great camera
- Really strong battery life
- Nice colour options
- Surprisingly great value
- A screen resolution bump would have been nice
- No fast charger in the box
The new ‘default’ iPhone is the iPhone 11 and thankfully it’s an excellent choice. This is basically the iPhone XR 2, but Apple has clearly realised there’s no point in trying to make it appear like a lesser phone anymore.
There are plenty of similarities between the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR. The 11 retains the look of the XR, with that glass back and plenty of colourways available, however it’s now more water-resistant than before. The screen is nice and bright, though a bump in resolution would have been appreciated.
A big upgrade for the iPhone 11 is the new camera. There are two 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 stunning 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.
- Read our iPhone 11 review
2. iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Best iPhones for performance
- Great camera
- Long battery life, especially on the Plus model
- Stunning displays
- Finally a fast charger in the box
- 64GB still the base storage
- Incredibly pricey
Sitting atop the iPhone 11 range, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are the phones to choose if you want the best of what Apple has to offer. These two phones have ace screens, three rear cameras and the Max model has the best battery life we’ve seen on an iPhone in years.
Apple hasn’t played too much with the design formula this year, instead deciding to focus more on the internals. The new A13 Bionic chipset inside the phone is an absolute powerhouse, 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 you’d get last year.
Not all is rosy, though. The price is very high and it can even higher when you realise 64GB just isn’t enough storage.
3. iPhone XS & iPhone XS Max
Still a powerful performer
- Fantastic screen
- Strong performance
- Face ID remains the best at facial recognition
- iOS doesn’t make the most of the Max’s bigger display
- Fast charger not included
2018’s flagship iPhone duo, the iPhone XS and XS Max are no longer sold by Apple. However you’ll still find them on carriers shelves and remain good picks if they’re on discount.
Both sport sharp, colourful Dolby Vision-capable OLED Super Retina screens plus the powerful A12 Bionic chipset and 4GB RAM powering everything on the inside. There’s also a TrueDepth sensor for both fast Face ID unlocking and Animoji. In terms of camera, there’s a superb dual 12-megapixel camera with dual OIS on the back.
The iPhone XS is for those who want the best specs with the same form factor as the iPhone X, while the larger iPhone XS Max swaps out a 5.8-inch display for a huge 6.5-inch panel that’s ideal for enjoying media and gaming on the go.
4. iPhone XR
Best value iPhone
- Great battery life
- XS features for less money
- Fantastic performance
- Very capable camera
- No fast charger included
- Will be too large for some
With the launch of the iPhone 11, the iPhone XR has seen its price cut. If you want to get a more affordable iPhone that is still a strong buy with all the performance of the XS then this remains a great choice.
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 this year.
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.
- Read our iPhone XR review
5. iPhone 8 Plus
Now even cheaper
- Great speakers
- Big screen
- Strong battery life
- Very big
- Boring design
The iPhone 8 Plus isn’t as exciting as the iPhone 11 or even the iPhone XR but it’s still a good pick if you want something familiar.
The A11 Bionic CPU makes this device one of the fastest phones out there, and its 12-megapixel camera takes more saturated and colourful shots than the previous Plus.
The glass rear allows for Qi wireless charging, although a pad doesn’t come in the box. Plus, the display benefits from Apple’s TrueTone tech – adjusting the colour temperature depending on the surrounding lighting. Still worthwhile.
- Read our iPhone 8 Plus review
6. iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus features for less
- Upgradable to iOS 13
- Affordable with similar design to iPhone 8 Plus
- Still has a good camera
- No headphone jack
The iPhone 7 Plus may now be a few years old but it remains a decent phone, especially when you consider the discounted price.
It was the first iPhone to have two camera sensors on the back, with the second acting as a telephoto lens. The main 12-megapixel sensor still takes better shots, because it has a wider f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilisation. The secondary sensor works with the phone’s Portrait Mode to give a nice bokeh (background blur) effect around your subject.
The iPhone 7 Plus also benefits from an improved 1080p display (compared to the 6 Plus) that sits at 5.5-inches. This isn’t huge when compared to the competition but it still makes the 7 Plus a big phone.
The rest of the specs are similar to the smaller iPhone 7: the A10 Fusion CPU, 32GB of base storage and upgradable to iOS 12.
- Read our iPhone 7 Plus review
7. iPhone SE
Best for portability
- Compact size
- Sharp screen
- 64GB storage
- Needs an update internally
The iPhone SE is the smallest and is a unique member of the iPhone family. If you want an iPhone that’s the same size as the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S – ie nice and pocket friendly – this is the one to pick.
The iPhone SE is affordable, fast and has the same ace camera as the iPhone 6S. Its battery can easily make it through two days, and its diminutive size makes it perfect for one-handed use.
However, there are rumours we might see an updated iPhone SE 2 in early 2020 so it might be worth holding out until the situation becomes clearer.
- Read our iPhone SE review
How we test each phone
In order to ensure our phone verdicts are authoritative, we make sure every phone we review goes through a rigorous process of testing to help us make a fully informed recommendation. We use a mix of real world and benchmark-led testing, using a number of industry standard tools.
This means that we test everything, from battery life and processor performance during the full range of everyday tasks, right up to call quality and screen calibration.
Most important of all, because phones are more than just a collection of performance specs, we take these phones out and use them as our own over an extended period, living with them to learn their quirks and discover any hidden issues. Find out more about how we test phones.
And if you’re still looking for a phone and have decided the Apple line-up isn’t perhaps right for you, take look at our broader guide to the best mobile phones or our guides to the following: