New year, new iPhone. If only it were that easy to choose which Apple phone you’d like to spend your hard-earned pound on.
See, while the latest models in Apple’s line of smartphones undoubtedly offer the ultimate performance, they don’t necessarily offer the best value for money for everyone. If you turn the clock back a year or two, you might find a phone that perfectly suits your needs at a price that is easy on your wallet.
With a handful of earlier generation iPhone models still available for purchase from Apple, plus four variants of the new iPhone 13, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Not sure where to start? We’ve listed the good, the bad, and the things to consider about all eight iPhones you can currently buy from Apple.
iPhone 13 Pro (2021) (from 949 €)
To the untrained eye, both the iPhone 13 Pro and the Pro Max are identical to their last-generation equivalents. But while the dimensions remain the same, subtle adjustments have been made: the notch is a bit slimmer and the cameras are arranged diagonally. Not enough to seduce you? Don’t worry, there is a lot more to play with.
You get deliciously smooth 120Hz refresh rates on the 6.1-inch ProMotion display, outstanding performance from Apple’s A15 processor, and new telephoto and macro photography capabilities from the redesigned camera array (which also has bigger pixels for better Results in low light conditions). The battery life is longer than before, while the display is 25% brighter than the iPhone 13 Pro.
All of this makes the iPhone 13 Pro the best all-rounder in Apple’s 2021 product range. If you already own an iPhone 12 Pro, the reasons to upgrade are less clear. But for everyone else, this is the best iPhone you can buy right now.
iPhone 13 (2021) (from 779 €)
Following the iPhone 12 has always been a tough act. And while the iPhone 13 offers several technical improvements over its predecessor, the previous generation (see below) offers better value for most people. And in addition to a slightly wider notch, it also looks the same.
However, if you just need to have the latest iPhone, the 13 isn’t a bad handset: you get top-notch performance from the A15 Bionic chip, along with longer battery life, a brighter screen, and twice as much storage space as standard. Larger pixels also mean the iPhone 13 can take better photos.
So the changes are all incremental. That doesn’t mean the iPhone 13 isn’t an excellent phone. On the contrary: if you buy your first iPhone, you will hardly be disappointed. But there are less compelling reasons to switch from the iPhone 12 – and if you’re looking to save £ 100, this is the way to go.
iPhone 13 Mini (2021) (from € 679)
Externally identical (but for a larger camera bump), the iPhone 13 Mini is the image of its compact predecessor. That means it’s also a more convenient option for those who want flagship performance that doesn’t dwarf their paws.
At £ 100 more than the iPhone 12 Mini, the second-generation variant is priced smart. It doesn’t revolutionize the form factor. Instead, the extra ton brings you better battery life and improved cameras, including bigger pixels and optical image stabilization, from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 Mini also takes over from the A15 for limitless power and performance.
Little things are just things that haven’t changed from the previous edition: the notch stays annoying, there’s no Touch ID, and the controls can be a bit fiddly (which is partly the point). If you want your iPhone to be a more portable powerhouse, nothing beats the iPhone 13 Mini.
iPhone 12 (2020) (from 679 €)
When it was new, the iPhone 12 was our pick among its contemporaries. With the same display, processor, and 5G connectivity as the 12 Pro, plus the same camera technology, it was a very easy-to-recommend device for most people. And that was when it cost £ 799.
A year later and £ 120 cheaper it remains the Apple phone that offers the best mix of value and performance. While its notch is larger and its lenses are vertical, the iPhone 12 is otherwise identical to the iPhone 13 (i.e., it’s a sleek and beautiful sliver of aluminum). It also offers a vibrant OLED display with the same resolution.
Yes, the iPhone 13 takes better photos with its larger pixels. It also lasts a little longer, shines a little brighter and runs a little faster (thanks to Apple’s A15 chip). But while these evolutionary improvements make it technically better, for most people they probably don’t justify the price hike. The iPhone 12 is still a very attractive option in 2021.
iPhone 12 Mini (2020) (from 579 €)
Not everyone wants a smaller iPhone, but for those who do, Apple makes the Mini. This is the first version of it to be released in 2020 – and it’s still worth considering if you want a smaller iPhone 12 that is just as capable as its bigger siblings.
With a 5.4-inch screen, it feels positive next to the palm-filling flagships we’re familiar with. However, the A14 Bionic processor still delivers great performance, and you get the same brilliant cameras, sleek flat-panel aluminum design, and 5G support as the full-fat iPhone 12. The battery life is a little less resilient.
If you want a small, top-notch iPhone, this is what you should check out. But here’s the real question: should you spend an additional £ 100 to get that updated iPhone 13 Mini? If you want better cameras and battery life, yes. If not, the 12 Mini is a cheaper – and pretty much as powerful – compact iPhone.
iPhone SE (2020) (from 389 €)
Essentially an iPhone 8 with newer technology inside, the second generation iPhone SE has the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11. While it can’t compete with the performance of Apple’s newer chips, it’s still good enough to pull it off apps, play games, and multitask.
So how does it compare to any other iPhone that cheap? There are a couple of tradeoffs: you still get those chunky bezels at the top and bottom, there’s no Face ID, and the 4.7-inch display is mediocre alongside the latest Retina panels. Battery life is a bit weak too, while you’ll only find a single lens on the back – though it’s still a standout snap.
But if you don’t mind the overly familiar form factor and you want a solid iPhone for less than £ 400, there is nowhere else to look. Despite its flaws, the SE remains the best (and only) entry-level iPhone to buy in 2021.
iPhone 11 (2019) (from 489 €)
The iPhone 11 is the oldest model that you can still officially buy from Apple. Earlier generations are still available from other retailers, as are the Pro and Pro Max models that accompanied the iPhone 11 in its heyday. But how does 11 fare itself in 2021?
Essentially an upgraded iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 is thicker, taller, and wider than the iPhone 12 – though it barely makes it meaty. It comes with two very stellar tail snaps, lots of power from the A13 Bionic chip, and decent battery life.
But there are also some clear limitations. Unlike the iPhone 12, the 11 doesn’t have an OLED screen – and its 6.1-inch LCD panel feels like a huge compromise compared to the latest handsets. That said, its reduced price is better value than ever before. Whether it’s worth 100 pounds more than the SE really depends on whether you want an ultra-wide-angle lens and a bezel-filling screen. And – whisper it – you can find refurbished versions of newer handsets for roughly the same price.