2018 was a big year for Apple, with the introduction of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and more recently, the iPhone XR. With their recent arrival, now is the best time to buy an iPhone but which one is the best for you?
If you’re in the market for a shiny Apple-made smartphone you’ve come to the right place, here we look at every available iPhone out there from the pocketable iPhone SE to the sizeable new XS Max to help you decide which of Apple’s smartphones best fits your needs.
1. iPhone XS & iPhone XS Max
Best iPhone for performance
- 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
Apple’s latest phones, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are currently at the top of the company’s phone lineup. Unlike previous versions of the iPhone that have come in two sizes, the XS and XS Max are virtually the same phone just with different displays.
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.
2. 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
Apple made us wait just a little bit longer for the iPhone XR after launching the XS and XS Max. The ‘affordable’ choice when placed alongside its 2018 brethren, the XR impresses by offering most of that XS experience for a lot less money.
It uses the same potent Apple A12 Bionic processor, runs the same version of iOS and sports the same primary 12-megapixel OIS-backed camera. It’s 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 feature.
3. iPhone X
Best for design
- Amazing display
- Extremely powerful
- Big price jump from previous models
- No fast-charger in the box
A few years ago, we’d have baulked at the idea of someone actually paying £1000 for a smartphone but in 2017/2018 the idea wasn’t so out of the ordinary thanks to the arrival of beautiful handsets like the iPhone X.
The iPhone X was the most costly handset that Apple had ever released, at least until the iPhone XS Max came along a year later. The latter’s arrival also signalled Apple’s decision to stop selling the iPhone X directly but it’s still available for less than its steep initial asking price, provided you look elsewhere.
Featuring a gorgeous, near-bezel-less design and more top-end tech than you can shake a stick at, the iPhone X is still an excellent choice.
Key highlights include a great telephoto camera, impressive battery life and Face ID security that lets you unlock the phone using your face.
4. iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone X features for less
- Great speakers
- Big screen
- Strong battery life
- Very big
- Boring design
The iPhone 8 Plus isn’t as exciting as the iPhone XS or 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.
5. iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus features for less
- Upgradable to iOS 12
- Affordable with a similar design to iPhone 8 Plus
- Still has a good camera
- No headphone jack
The iPhone 7 Plus may now be a few year’s 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.
6. iPhone SE
Best for portability
- Compact size
- Sharp screen
- 64GB storage
- Needs an update internally
The iPhone SE is the smallest and most unique member of the iPhone family. If you want an iPhone that’s the same size as the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S, 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.
There’s no 3D Touch in the display or optical image stabilisation on the camera but you’ll get 2018’s iOS 12 update which should ensure it still feels like a fast, fluid phone. Apple has also recently upped the storage from 16GB to 32GB, which is great news. As with the iPhone X, Apple doesn’t sell this phone directly anymore but it’s available from other retailers.
7. iPhone 6S Plus
Best on a budget
- Same screen resolution of 7 Plus and 8 Plus
- Upgradeable to iOS 12
- Not as durable as iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus
Apple’s larger flagship from 2016 – the iPhone 6S Plus – isn’t sold by Apple, yet it remains a good option for headphone-jack-loving folk who don’t need the dual-camera and want to save some cash.
The major specs remain the same as the 6S. Under the hood is an Apple A9 CPU, 16GB of storage and now, the latest iOS 12. The only big upgrade over the iPhone 6 is OIS on the 12-megapixel rear camera.
As is normal with the Plus models, the battery life far exceeds the smaller model, however, it also takes far longer to charge, since there’s no form of fast-charging available here.
8. iPhone 6S
Best for newbies
- Upgradable to iOS 12
- Nice screen size
- Can be slow on iOS 11
Apple’s 2016 headline device is still available from third-parties for a good price. It remains a good deal for people who want to save a bit of cash and aren’t willing to lose the headphone jack. The iPhone 6S remains a decent phone and looks almost identical to newer models like the iPhone 8. Arguably, it even benefits from better battery life than the iPhone 7, although it lacks the wider aperture and optical image stabilization of the 7’s camera.