There is no actual “best” iPhone available. Everyone’s needs and financial situation are unique. Apple now offers eight different iPhone models that date back to 2020 with the arrival of the iPhone 14 series and the retirement of the iPhone 11, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max.
Prices for the 2022 iPhone SE start at $429 and go as high as $1,599 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a massive 1TB of storage. The different models are listed below, along with their release date, number of rear cameras, processor, and current list price. Some phones also have an activation fee of $30, but this fee is waived if you activate your iPhone with a carrier at the time of purchase.
Current iPhones, compared
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You truly have a ton of options when it comes to picking your ideal phone, whether it be the diminutive iPhone 13 Mini with its 5.4-inch screen or the 2020 iPhone 12. It can be confusing to navigate Apple’s iPhone lineup, whether you’re looking at colors (the iPhone 13 comes in six different shades) or features like the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro, which extends and contracts to display system notifications.
The cameras come next. Generally speaking, the iPhone offers some of the greatest phone cameras available. The iPhone SE, however, just has one on the rear. Every model of the 12, 13, 13 Mini, 14, and 14 Plus has two back cameras. The 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max also have three cameras and include features like the ability to capture ProRaw images and record ProRes videos.
The fact that discontinued models like the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are still being sold by service providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon as well as independent retailers like Best Buy and Amazon only serves to complicate matters further. The prices are another factor. The beginning price listed by Apple for each model may not be what you end up paying. With a combination of trade-ins and/or service commitments with the majority of US wireless carriers, almost all of the phones on this list can be purchased for significantly less money.
It’s a lot, I realize. Fortunately, I have tested and reviewed each of the eight iPhone models, so I can guide you through the confusion.
When I reviewed the iPhone 14, I said it was essentially the iPhone 13 Pro’s processor and main camera inside the body of an iPhone 13. No doubt, some will be disappointed that the iPhone 14 isn’t radically different from previous models. But that’s part of its charm. Familiarity has been one of the keys to Apple’s success with the iPhone. And as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The iPhone 14’s best features are ones you may never see or use — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That includes Crash Detection, which can notify emergency services when you’re in an automobile accident. Starting in November, you’ll get Emergency SOS via Satellite that lets you use a satellite to message emergency dispatchers in places without cell coverage.
The inside of the iPhone 14 has been significantly overhauled, despite having a flat, nearly identical exterior as the iPhone 12 and 13 that includes a ceramic barrier coating and a water-resistant body. Since it is no longer connected to internals, the back glass of the 14 is simpler and more reasonably priced to repair.
Every phone in the iPhone 14 series features a new selfie camera that, for the first time ever, has autofocus and only accepts eSIMs in the US. The Action mode, an updated Cinematic mode that can record 4K video at 24 frames per second, and iOS 16 make this phone even better. Apple reduces the cost to $799 if you activate it on a carrier. View our iPhone 14 now.
The best luxury iPhone is the 14 Pro.
Back view of the $999 The 14 Pro iPhone resembles the 13 Pro from the previous year. But don’t be fooled by that similarity. The screen of the 14 Pro is where something unique and great is happening. The pill-shaped screen cutout that replaces the display notch that characterized earlier Face ID iPhone models can display system notifications and background activities like when you receive a call or are listening to music. Apple refers to this feature as the Dynamic Island. Although it may not be the finest name, this is unquestionably one of the nicest features.
A new, larger 48-megapixel sensor is added to the primary camera. Apple separates the pixels into groups of four and combines them into one larger pixel, even though having more megapixels doesn’t always equate to better images. A 12-megapixel photo that is brighter, has less image noise, and has higher detail as a result.
One of the best smartphones produced this year, whether by Apple or any other manufacturer, is the iPhone 14 Pro. View our review of the iPhone 14 Pro.
Best Iphone value
The iPhone 13 is still a great phone at $729. In fact, if you want to save money and are tempted by the iPhone 14 instead of the 13, choose the 13. They share a largely same body, screen, and A15 Bionic processor. The iPhone 14’s processor does, in fact, include one additional GPU core.
The square-sided design of the iPhone 13, like that of the iPhone 12 before it, defines it. It has cameras on par with the top-tier iPhone 12 Pro Max from 2020, supports 5G, and MagSafe charging.
The iPhone 13’s larger battery, however, which in our tests lasted almost 3 hours longer than the new iPhone 14 and 4.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 on a single charge, is its best feature.
Additionally, the 13 includes iOS 16 and Cinematic mode, which together make for a great phone. Cinematic mode is essentially a video version of Portrait mode. CNET’s Editors’ Choice Award for 2021 went to the iPhone 13. Apple reduces the price to $699 if you activate it on a specific carrier at the time of purchase. Check out our review of the iPhone 13.
iPhone Plus 14
cheapest large iPhone
Depending on your point of view, the $929 iPhone 14 Plus is either a large iPhone 14 or a smaller iPhone 14 Pro Max. There has only ever been one option for those who enjoy large screens since the iPhone XS Max was introduced in 2018: shell out top dollar and purchase a Max model with extra features you may not actually need. The only way to get an iPhone in the size they wanted was to spend at least $1,100 on an iPhone 12 Pro Max or 13 Pro Max, according to many CNET readers, friends, and coworkers I know. But that is different now.
The 14 Plus offers all the capabilities of the iPhone 14 and, like the 14 Pro Max, has a 6.7-inch display that gives you a bigger screen on which to view videos, play games, and take pictures. The iPhone 14 Plus can either display what the iPhone 14 does but considerably larger, or it can fit more on the screen. Although a magnified vision may seem like a simple feature, as my eyes grow older, I absolutely appreciate it.
When choosing between the iPhone 14 Plus and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, I advise choosing the 14 Plus to save $200 if you don’t want a telephoto lens, a high-refresh-rate screen, or more weight. Apple reduces the cost to $899 if you activate it on a carrier.
The best little iPhone is the iPhone 13 Mini
Who said there wouldn’t be little phones in 2022? Because it contains every feature of the iPhone 13 but is smaller, the $629 iPhone 13 Mini is great. It features the same square-edged appearance, 5G support, and cameras. The 5.4-inch OLED screen of the 13 Mini, which supports Dolby HDR, is its distinguishing feature. Consider Plus variants, like the iPhone 8 Plus, which had a 5.5-inch screen inside of a much larger chassis if that sounds too little. The big forehead and chin bezels that characterized the iPhone for its first ten years are absent from the 13 Mini, which is its secret.
The body, like almost all of the phones on this list, has an IP68 classification for dust and water resistance, and the screen is protected by Apple’s ceramic shield. The performance of the 13 Mini is comparable to that of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus thanks to its A15 Bionic CPU.
The iPhone 13 Mini costs the same as the iPhone 12, however the smaller iPhone 13 Mini lasts longer on a single charge. You should only buy the 13 Mini for its size, in my opinion. If a little phone bothers you, you can feel dissatisfied or annoyed. Additionally, Apple reduces the price to $599 if you activate it on a carrier.
Longest lasting iPhone 14 Pro Max battery
Simply put, the $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max is the iPhone 14 Pro in a larger size. The A16 Bionic processor, cameras, and features are all the same. However, it does have two significant differences from the 14 Pro: a larger 6.7-inch high-refresh rate screen and a larger battery. The iPhone 14 Pro Max really had the best battery life of any phone on our list in our tests.
In every regard, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is exceptional. However, due to its weight, I only advise purchasing it if you desire a larger Pro model iPhone. It weighs 37 and 34 grams more than the iPhone 14 Plus and the iPhone 14 Pro, respectively. The stainless steel body of the 14 Pro Max contributes the majority of that weight.
cheapest iPhone under $600
The launch of the current generation of Apple phones was marked by the $629 iPhone 12 and its flat-sided construction. It’s the oldest item on the list, but it’s also one of the least expensive, especially if you want to get an iPhone with a modern design and Face ID.
The iPhone 12 features a 5G-capable, still-extremely-fast A14 Bionic chip, a 6.1-inch display protected by Apple’s ceramic shield for durability, and MagSafe charging.
The 2020 CNET Editors’ Choice Award went to the iPhone 12. I strongly advise upgrading from 64GB to 128GB of storage if you decide to purchase an iPhone 12 and have the extra $50 to spare. Apple reduces the price of the iPhone 12 to $599 once you activate it with a carrier from its starting price of $629.
An eSIM holds all of the vital details about your phone account in software rather than on a physical SIM card, including your account number, wireless provider, and subscription.
Apple abandoned the conventional SIM card tray in favor of internal SIM cards with the iPhone 14 release. This implies that you are unable to simply remove your SIM card from your existing phone and insert it into a new one. However, as many smaller operators and all of the US’s main carriers support eSIM, this shouldn’t have an impact on your experience.
Since the release of the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR in 2018, Apple has enabled eSIM. The new iPhone 14 will walk you through adding your current service provider when you first set it up. On Apple’s website, you can find a list of wireless networks that are supported.
The most recent version of Apple’s iPhone software is iOS 16. It comes pre-installed on the iPhone 14 and is also a free update for iPhone models 8 and later. Customizable lock screens, an update to the Messages app that enables editing and unsending of iMessages, and new photo editing tools are just a few of the new features in iOS 16.
how we evaluate phones
Each iPhone model is assessed based on its general quality, features, design, functionality, cameras, battery life, and price. We evaluate phones in the real world by making calls, playing video games, taking pictures, and browsing social media sites on them as our primary device. We record our findings in an initial evaluation, which we subsequently update with new testing and comparisons to new smartphones from other manufacturers like Samsung, Google, and OnePlus.
We take images and movies of many subjects in a range of settings and lighting conditions, with photography frequently serving as a key focus. Any new camera features, like the Action mode that debuted with the iPhone 14 range, are tested by us.
The phone’s battery is tested both by measuring how long it lasts during an average day of use and by observing how it functions during more intensive video calls, media streaming, and gaming sessions. As running a video playback test can take an entire day, it isn’t always included in the initial versions of the review by us.
In addition to our personal anecdotal experiences using the phone for our evaluation, we use benchmarking tools to gauge the performance. We’ll also contrast the phone’s appearance, feel, and performance with those of previous iPhone models, such as the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus and the correspondingly sized iPhone 14 Pro Max.
We assess whether a newer version has sufficient features to warrant upgrading from earlier models.