Iphone 12 Pro Pacific Blue Iphone 11 Midnight Green BlueSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

Best iPhone iMore 2021

For many of us, the smartphone we choose to carry is pretty much the single most important and most personal device that we depend on every day. That's why when you're looking for your next iPhone, you need it to be fast, reliable, and futureproof for at least a few years. But there are so many different iPhone models being sold by Apple right now, so how are you supposed to pick just one? That's why we're here, and we think the iPhone 12 is the best iPhone for most people. That's because it packs in a ton of amazing new features, especially with iOS 14, and the price is fairly reasonable.

Best overall: iPhone 12 (2020)

Iphone 12 BlueSource: iMore

Apple's latest flagship device, the iPhone 12, comes in six amazing colors and features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display. You'll see a ceramic shield front on the outside, which offers four times the drop performance of older iPhones.

Like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max (see below), the iPhone 12 includes 5G technology for super-fast download speeds and high‑quality streaming. Inside, you'll also find an A14 Bionic chip, which is the fastest smartphone chip to date. The iPhone 12 also supports the best MagSafe accessories and wireless chargers. However, for MagSafe, you'll want to make sure that you have one of the many great MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 cases to make sure that nothing interferes with the magnets.

The key differences between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro lineups largely focus on the camera system and materials used. The iPhone 12 only has a dual 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide and Wide), while the iPhone 12 Pro offers a triple camera system (Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto). The iPhone 12 Pro includes surgical-grade stainless steel versus the aerospace-grade aluminum found on the less expensive model. The iPhone 12 is also without a LiDAR Scanner, which probably means very little to the average iPhone buyer, but it can open up many new AR and accessibility features.

If you don't plan on using MagSafe accessories, then you'll want to make sure to pick up one of the best iPhone 12 cases to protect your investment!

Pros:

  • Dual-camera system
  • Nearly all the same features as the iPhone 12 Pro
  • Compatible with MagSafe
  • 5G-ready
  • Available in green, blue, white, black, PRODUCT(RED), and purple

Cons:

  • No telephoto lens
  • Aluminum body, not stainless steel
  • No LiDAR Scanner

Best overall

Iphone 12 Black Final

iPhone 12 (2020)

Because we aren't all professionals

The iPhone 12, not surprisingly, is Apple's best flagship smartphone to date and includes most of the features found on the 12 Pro for less.

Best for professionals: iPhone 12 Pro (2020)

iPhone 12 Pro reviewSource: Daniel Bader / iMore

Make no mistake, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max are nearly identical inside and out. Whether to select one over the other should come down to screen preference first. However, there are advanced camera features only found on the larger of the two models (see below).

Like the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro (and iPhone 12 Pro Max) feature an A14 Bionic chip, Apple's fastest to date. It's available with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. The Pro models are the first Apple smartphones to include a LiDAR scanner. Once only available on the iPad Pro, the LiDAR scanner is great for AR experiences and can be used for night mode portraits, faster autofocus in low light, and more.

The iPhone 12 Pro lineup is also the only iPhone available in Pacific Blue, a beautiful hue slightly darker than the blue on the iPhone 12. Besides Pacific Blue, the Pro is available in Silver, Sapphire, and Gold. Like the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro also works with the best MagSafe accessories, but you'll want to make sure you have a fantastic MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 Pro case to make sure the magnets can work.

Pros:

  • Pro -lens camera
  • LiDAR scanner
  • A14 Bionic chip

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Just four color options
  • Slightly different camera features than Pro Max

Best for professionals

Iphone 12 Pro Silver

iPhone 12 Pro (2020)

You know you want it

If a 6.7-inch display is too big for you, but you still want a professional experience, this is the iPhone to buy.

Best small iPhone: iPhone 12 mini (2020)

Iphone 12 Mini Purple Back HeroSource: Joe Keller / iMore

The iPhone 12 mini features a relatively tiny 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display. That also means you get a higher PPI (pixels per inch) count. While most people can't tell the difference, a higher pixel density means colors will look brighter and stronger overall.

Beyond the screen size and some minimal differences in weight, this smartphone is the same as the iPhone 12. Inside, you'll find an A14 Bionic chip, and the handset includes support for MagSafe accessories and wireless chargers. Again, you'll want to make sure you have a MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 mini case for best results with MagSafe. It is also available in the new purple color, just like its bigger sibling.

Pros:

  • Same at iPhone 12, except for the display size
  • Display size means higher PPI

Cons:

  • Is it too small for you?

Best small iPhone

Iphone 12 Mini Green Select

iPhone 12 mini (2020)

Isn't it cute?

Apple once again shows some love for those who like smaller phones and packs in the same specs to boot.

Best alternative: iPhone 11 (2019)

iPhone 11 in (Product)REDSource: iMore

Last year's flagship is still a terrific choice for many buyers, and it's now available at a lower price. The iPhone 11 has a 12MP dual-camera system with wide and ultra-wide lenses, an A13 Bionic chip, a Liquid Retina HD LCD, and a 6.1-inch screen size.

It uses Apple's advanced Face ID biometric scanning (which also means the True Depth FaceTime camera), supports Animoji, slo-mo selfies (or "slofies" as Apple has marketed), 4K video recording support, Portrait mode for the front and back-facing cameras (including non-human subjects), Night mode, and a whole lot more. It may not have the latest silicon from Apple, but it's still a fantastic device and will last several more years at least.

Pros:

  • Dual-camera system
  • Six unique colors
  • Really great price

Cons:

  • No telephoto lens
  • LCD screen instead of OLED
  • Slightly dated

Best alternative

iPhone 11

iPhone 11 (2019)

Practically perfect at a lower price.

The iPhone 11 is still a great choice, especially with its awesome set of six colors.

Best on a budget: iPhone SE - 2nd Generation (2020)

Iphone Se 2020 HeroSource: iMore

If your pocketbook is tight, the lowest-priced iPhone is the 4.7-inch iPhone SE (2020). It sports Apple's A13 Bionic chip, a 12MP wide-angle camera with 5x digital zoom, 4K video recording, and plenty of advanced technology. It's not Apple's greatest iPhone ever, but it is Apple's best low-cost iPhone since the original SE, 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.

Pros:

  • Least expensive iPhone
  • Home button
  • Thinnest and lightest

Cons:

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

Best on a budget

iPhone SE 2020 Prouct Red

iPhone SE - 2nd Generation (2020)

The perfect entry-level iPhone

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

Best for photographers: iPhone 12 Pro Max (2020)

Iphone 12 Pro Max Blue HeroSource: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore

The best, most powerful iPhone you can buy in 2021 is the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. Nearly the same as the iPhone 12 Pro, this massive phone is Apple's largest to date, with a screen size 0.2-inches bigger than last year's iPhone 11 Pro Max. For anyone looking for the best of the best, this is the phone for you.

If you're a photographer, the choice is simple since the Max offers camera features not found on any other Apple smartphone, including the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro. This includes a 5x optical zoom range (versus 4x on Pro), telephoto with ƒ/2.2 aperture (ƒ/2.0 aperture), sensor-shift optical image stabilization (dual optical image stabilization), digital zoom up to 12x (10x), digital zoom up to 7x for video (6x), and slo-mo video support for 1080p at 240 fps.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max also offers up to 20 hours of video playback versus 17 for the iPhone 12 Pro. The biggest drawback to the iPhone 12 Pro Max is pretty obvious, though — it's expensive, as well as gigantic. The largest model will set you back $1,399. You'll also want to make sure that you get one of the best MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 Pro Max cases for seamless use of MagSafe accessories.

Pros:

  • Extra camera features
  • Largest iPhone screen to date

Cons:

  • Most expensive iPhone

Best for photographers

Iphone 12 Pro Max Blue Hero

iPhone 12 Pro Max (2020)

Most advanced everything at a premium price

If money is no issue and you really want that triple-camera system, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has it all and then some.

Best for kids: iPhone XR (2018)

iPhone XRSource: iMore

Let's face it; your kids are going to be secretly disappointed (or maybe openly disappointed) if you buy them an iPhone SE. The iPhone XR remains a great phone at a great price. It comes in six bright colors, supports Face ID and Animoji and Memoji, features Portrait mode (though only for humans), and is a great first iPhone for your kids.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Bright colors
  • Face ID

Cons:

  • Two years old

Best for kids

iPhone XR

iPhone XR (2018)

Thanks, mom and dad. You're the best!

The iPhone XR remains hugely popular and comes with some of the best features you can get. Your kids will love it.

The best iPhone: Bottom line

For the vast majority, we definitely recommend the iPhone 12 as the best iPhone for most people. It has a lot of the features that are in the Pro models, but for slightly less. It's also blazingly fast with the A14 chip, has the Ultra Wide 12MP camera, a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, MagSafe, and comes in a slew of gorgeous new colors, including the beautiful purple hue. Plus, if you prefer an even smaller device, the iPhone 12 mini is pretty much the same thing as the iPhone 12, but with a tiny form factor.

However, if you want the most advanced camera system in an iPhone, and arguably in any phone, you're going to want the iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, since these have the Telephoto lens and LiDAR Scanner, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of AR. The Pro models also have more professional colors, including the amazing new Pacific Blue colorway.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author: Christine Romero-Chan

Christine Romero-Chan is a senior writer and editor at iMore. She's been using iPhones since the OG iPhone, and she's had one from every generation since. She knows her way around iPhones like no one's business.

Author: Lory Gil

Lory Gil is the former Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around an iPhone. She's known as the four-inch iPhone fan (RIP).

Author: Bryan

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe

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