Best iPhone 2022

iPhone 14 Review
(Image credit: iMore / Stephen Warwick)

Apple's iPhone is a tremendous smartphone option for most people, especially those already plugged into the Apple ecosystem. Yet there are now more iPhone models available than really ever before, meaning that choosing the right one can be a tricky task.

So which model is the best for most people? This time, we aren't recommending Apple's flagship device, the iPhone 14. Instead, it's the iPhone 14 Pro. But, of course, there are other iPhones available (including the iPhone 14), and one of those might be a better choice, depending on your needs. Here are our recommendations. 

Space Black iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
The best: Beautiful design with raw power inside

Reasons to buy

+
Blazing fast performance with A16
+
48 megapixel Main camera with triple lens camera system
+
Dynamic Island is a useful notch replacement
+
Up to 1TB of storage space
+
Finally has an Always-On display

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Deep Purple could have been more...purple

This is the first time we're recommending an iPhone Pro as the best iPhone for most people. The reason we're doing so comes down to two equally important points. First, the iPhone 14 Pro (and its big brother, the iPhone 14 Pro Max) is simply the best iPhone ever created in terms of hardware and software. Second, Apple did its flagship device wrong this year. That device, the iPhone 14, is too similar to last year's flagship, the iPhone 13, which makes us wonder why it was even released. 

In a vacuum, the iPhone 14 is truly a great device. However, for the amount of money Apple expects us to spend on an iPhone, we believe there are better choices for most people, as you can read more about below. 

Now, about the iPhone 14 Pro. Available in some fantastic colors, including gold, silver, Space Black, and Deep Purple, the iPhone 14 Pro is full of unique and amazing new features, starting with Dynamic Island. As mentioned in our iPhone 14 Pro review, Dynamic Island is "just an absolute delight to use." The feature uses hardware and software to offer a new way of interacting with notifications. It's housed where the iPhone notch used to be and fluidly changes depending on what you're doing. The result is something that changes the overall iPhone experience and one that should only get better as third-party developers begin incorporating it with their app designs. 

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is also noted for the advanced A16 chip mentioned above. The chip has a 6-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores, a 5-core GPU for faster graphics performance, and a 16-core Neural Engine. Called the "ultimate smartphone chip" by Apple, the A16 can handle any workload you throw at it smoothly and efficiently, with the 16-core Neural Engine being able to perform 17 trillion operations per second. In addition, with the new Photonic Engine, gamers can expect even better performance with 50% more memory bandwidth than last year's iPhone 13 Pro. 

On the negative side, there's no denying the iPhone 14 Pro is an expensive device and one that gets more cost prohibitive as more storage gets added. And yet, we believe its extras compared to the iPhone 14 are well worth the $200 price difference. And then there's the Deep Purple hue. It's amazing, but perhaps too light a color for most folks. When in doubt, look at one in a store before making a purchase. 

iPhone 14

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)
Best alternative: Still a flagship

Reasons to buy

+
Slightly better battery life
+
Improved cameras
+
Photonic Engine
+
Crash Detection and SOS via Satellite

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited upgrades over iPhone 13
-
Glossy back feels cheap and is a fingerprint magnet
-
Lacking in hardware over Android rivals
-
60Hz display in 2022
-
Overshadowed by iPhone 14 Pro

The iPhone 14 is perhaps the strangest iPhone ever released. The device has everything that made the iPhone 13 (see below) last year's No. 1 iPhone, plus a few new features. Where the problem occurs, however, is when you compare it to the iPhone 14 Pro series, which is where Apple put most of the newest iPhone goodies this time around. 

Let's start with what makes the iPhone 14 a great device, then concentrate on some of our concerns. 

As we first noted in the iPhone 14 review, this year's flagship device offers better battery life, a slightly better camera, and all-new crash detection and SOS tools. The iPhone 14 also includes 6GB of RAM for the first time. In addition, the handset comes in five colors, including the traditional Midnight, Starlight, and purple, plus a newly shaded blue and (PRODUCT)RED. 

If the iPhone 14 were the only iPhone on the market (remember those days?), there would be nothing to criticize. That's not the case, however. For the first time, the chip found in the iPhone and iPhone Pro series isn't the same. While the latter includes an all-new A16 chip, the iPhone 14 (and iPhone 14 Plus) keeps the A15 that first arrived on the iPhone 13 series in 2021. The A15 isn't a bad chip. It's still ahead of its class. And yet, since you can snag an iPhone 13 with the same chip for less, it might be worth your time to forgo to iPhone 14 and save some cash. 

There's also the issue of a 60Hz display. In 2022, this is somewhat unacceptable and keeps it behind some of its Android rivals. The iPhone 14's glossy back also opens the device up for some criticism since it's a fingerprint magnet. 

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Christine Chan / iMore)
Best of the best: When you need the best and biggest iPhone

Reasons to buy

+
The same as the iPhone 14 Pro but bigger
+
Best battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Even more expensive

If you like everything about the iPhone 14 Pro but want something bigger, there's the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Offering a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display, this model is identical to the smaller one except for the display and battery life. 

On the former, it provides a 2796-by-1290-pixel resolution at 460 PPI. You can expect up to 29 hours between charges on the latter versus the 23 hours for the iPhone 14 Pro. 

The bigger screen will cost you, as the Max is $100 more across all storage levels. 

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

iPhone 14 Plus (2022)

Best larger alternative: Bigger, but the same great iPhone 14

Reasons to buy

+
Brand new sized regular iPhone
+
All the great features found on the iPhone 14
+
Much better battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly more expensive

With the iPhone 14 series, Apple has replaced the mini version with something much bigger, the iPhone 14 Plus. Like the iPhone 14 Pro Max with the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone 14 Plus is identical to the iPhone 14 except for the screen size and battery life.

This iPhone offers a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with a 2778-by-1284-pixel resolution at 458 PPI. And instead of the 20 hours of battery life promised on the iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Plus offers up to 26 hours between charges. For this, once again, you'll pay $100 extra.

iPhones on a desk

Iphone 13 Display (Image credit: Future)
Best first iPhone: Still a terrific choice

Reasons to buy

+
Six colors
+
Powerful dual-lens camera system with Sensor-shift OIS
+
Starts at 128GB and goes up to 512GB
+
A15 Bionic
+
Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
No telephoto lens or LiDAR
-
Aluminum body, not stainless steel
-
No ProRes recording or ProMotion display

Apple's previous flagship device, the iPhone 13, comes in several unique colors: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, PRODUCT(RED), Pink, and the mid-cycle refresh color: Green. It also features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, which we praised in our review. In addition, you have a Ceramic Shield on the front screen, which offers four times the drop performance of older iPhones, and a glass back and aluminum design on the rest of the body. Plus, it's designed to work perfectly with the latest operating system.

Similar to the previous iPhone 12 lineup, the iPhone 13  comes with super-fast 5G connectivity, but this time with more band support. This means even faster download speeds and high-quality streaming, as long as your carrier offers it. The iPhone 13 also has the A15 Bionic chip, a 6-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four efficiency cores. You also get a 4-core GPU that gives you 30% faster graphics, and overall, the iPhone 13 is 50% faster than competing devices. It also has a 16-core Neural Engine for machine learning, allowing it to do 15.8 trillion operations per second. Pretty fast, right?

The iPhone 13 can also use the Apple MagSafe charger and the entire MagSafe ecosystem of accessories that debuted with the iPhone 12 last year. This means you can get MagSafe wireless chargers, wallets, and more. First, however, you'll want to ensure that you have one of the best iPhone 13 cases.

iPhone 12 in blue

(Image credit: iMore)

iPhone 12 (2020)

Best for kids: Thanks, Mom and Dad. You're the best!

Reasons to buy

+
Dual-camera system
+
A14 Bionic and 5G connectivity
+
Supports MagSafe
+
Really great price

Reasons to avoid

-
No telephoto lens
-
Not using the latest silicon

If you read our iPhone 12 review, you'll know it is still a terrific choice for many buyers. Now it's available at a lower price. The iPhone 12 has a 12MP dual-camera system with wide and ultra-wide lenses, an A14 Bionic chip, and a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display.

It uses Apple's advanced Face ID biometric scanning (which also means the True Depth FaceTime camera), supports 5G, 4K, and Dolby Vision video recording support, Portrait mode for the front and back-facing cameras, Night mode, is compatible with MagSafe accessories, and a whole lot more. It may not have the latest silicon from Apple, but it's still a fantastic device and will last at least several more years. This is a great pick for someone who wants a good, feature-rich smartphone but doesn't want to spend top dollar.

The iPhone 12 might be an older phone, but it is still a great choice, especially with its awesome set of six colors.

Black iPhone SE 2022 on pink background

iPhone SE 2020 Home Button (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)
Best on a budget: The perfect entry-level iPhone

Reasons to buy

+
Least expensive iPhone
+
Home button
+
Thinnest and lightest

Reasons to avoid

-
No edge-to-edge screen
-
No dual or triple-lens system

If your pocketbook is tight, the lowest-priced iPhone is the 4.7-inch iPhone SE. As pointed out in our iPhone SE review, it's not just a cheap phone, it's just the right phone for certain demographics. It sports Apple's A15 Bionic chip, a 12MP wide-angle camera with 5x digital zoom, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles, 4K video recording, 5G connectivity, and an improved battery over the previous model. It's not Apple's greatest iPhone ever, but it is Apple's best low-cost iPhone, and you can get it for a song. This is the only phone with a Home button in Apple's current lineup too, so if you prefer fingerprint scanning to facial scanning, this is the iPhone for you.

This is also a great pick for seniors. It's most certainly the model I would recommend to my mom. She's used to using a Home button and isn't particularly interested in learning new tech. She doesn't take a ton of photos, nor does she care about having "the latest" tech with all the bells and whistles. She just wants a phone to keep in her purse in case of emergencies, for texting with her grandkids, or to play the occasional game of Solitaire.

Though we've picked a different iPhone model as "best for kids," the iPhone SE is also one to consider for your younger kid's or tween's starter smartphone. The smaller form factor is great for smaller hands. And the lower price point makes it an attractive option for kids who tend to drop or lose things more often than their parents would like.

If you're new to the smartphone game or upgrading from an older model, this is newer tech at an incredibly low price.

The best iPhone is one that fits your needs

Why you can trust iMore Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

For the vast majority, we recommend the iPhone 14 Pro as the best iPhone for most people. It offers the latest A16 chip, an improved camera system, and the Dynamic Island. However, if you find the display on the iPhone 14 Pro too small, consider the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It's the same device ... only bigger. If you don't want to stretch your budget all the way to Apple's current best iPhone, there are still some great options available such as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone SE if you really want to save your cash. 

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

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