Best iPhone iMore 2020
The phone you carry with you every day is your most important and most personal device. It's got to be fast, reliable, and has the most advanced features you need every day. Since Apple changed the landscape of iPhones in 2020, the iPhone 12 is now the best iPhone for most people. Best of all, it's available in two different sizes.
- Best Overall: iPhone 12 (2020)
- Best for Professionals: iPhone 12 Pro (2020)
- Best Small iPhone: iPhone 12 mini (2020)
- Best Alternative: iPhone 11 (2019)
- Best on a Budget: iPhone SE (2020)
- Best for Photographers: iPhone 12 Pro Max (2020)
- Best for Kids: iPhone XR (2018)
Best Overall: iPhone 12 (2020)
Apple's latest flagship device comes in five 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 downloads and high‑quality streaming. Inside, you'll also find an A14 Bionic chip, the fastest smartphone chip to date. The iPhone 12 also supports MagSafe accessories and wireless chargers.
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 Pro 12MP 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.
- Dual-camera system
- Nearly all the same features as the iPhone 12 Pro
- Compatible with MagSafe
- Available in green, blue, white, black, and PRODUCT(RED)
- No telephoto lens
- Aluminum body, not stainless steel
- No LiDAR Scanner
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)
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. Be aware, however, there are advanced camera features that are 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.
- Pro -lens camera
- LiDAR scanner
- A14 Bionic chip
- Just four color options
- Slightly different camera features than Pro Max
Best for Professionals
You know you want it
If a 6.7-inch display is too big for you by you still want a professional experience, this is the iPhone to buy.
Best Small iPhone: iPhone 12 mini (2020)
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.
- Same at iPhone 12, except for the display size
- Display size means higher PPI
- Is it too small for you?
Best Small iPhone
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)
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.
- Dual-camera system
- Six unique colors
- Really great price
- No telephoto lens
- LCD screen instead of OLED
- Slightly dated
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 (2020)
If your pocketbook has you restricted, 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. So if you prefer fingerprint scanning to facial scanning, this is the iPhone for you.
- Least expensive iPhone
- Home button
- Thinnest and lightest
- No edge-to-edge screen
- No dual or triple-lens system
Best on a Budget
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)
The best iPhone you can buy in 2020/21 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. These include an 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 video playback versus 17 for the iPhone 12 Pro.
The biggest drawback to the iPhone 12 Pro Max is pretty obvious, it's expensive. The largest model will set you back $1,399.
- Extra camera features
- Largest iPhone screen to date
- Most expensive iPhone
Best for Photographers
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)
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.
- Great price
- Bright colors
- Face ID
- Two years old
Best for Kids
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 iPhone 12 has most of the features found on the iPhone 12 Pro, but at a fraction of the price of the Pro model. Hands-down, it's the best iPhone for most people and our pick this year.
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. It also has a LiDAR Scanner, which is great for anyone getting involved in AR.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around an iPhone. She's known as the four-inch iPhone fan (RIP).
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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