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Best iPhone in 2021: Which Apple iPhone model is right for you?

July 19th, 2021 at 12:19 PM
Best iPhone

The original iPhone completely changed the tech world, and since then, each new release has had a major impact on the industry as a whole. There are plenty of reasons people swear by them — whether it be their tight integration with the Apple ecosystem, their easy-to-use interface, or their own great features. But within the Apple ecosystem, it can still be hard to find the best iPhone for your needs.

These days, there is more than just one model. For starters, Apple released a hefty four devices in the iPhone 12 series — but it also still offers some previous-generation models and some more budget-minded models.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the best iPhone for you.

Best iPhone for most people: iPhone 12

Apple iPhone 12 ReviewImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Awesome new design, excellent performance, great camera, upgraded display

Cons: Base model only has 64GB of storage, no telephoto camera

For the vast majority of users, the iPhone 12 is the phone to buy. It offers 95% of the features on offer by the 12 Pro, but at a lower price.

Perhaps the headline change to the series for the iPhone 12 is its all-new design. The phone looks kind of like a blend of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 5, and it looks great. The flat edges help make it a little more grippable too.

In 2021, Apple brought a number of Pro features down to non-Pro models. The phone now offers an OLED display with the same resolution as the iPhone 12 Pro — so the display experience is pretty much identical, save for the fact that it doesn’t get quite as bright.

The phone is also a serious performer. Like the Pro models, the iPhone 12 has Apple’s new A14 Bionic processor, which should easily be able to handle anything you can throw at it. That’s coupled with options for 64, 128, or 256GB of storage.

Last but not least is an upgrade to the camera. The device still has a dual-camera system, with one 12-megapixel main camera and one 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. You won’t get a telephoto camera, like you would on a Pro model, but the camera quality is still excellent — and easily beats most other devices in this price range. The phone has a slightly wider aperture than the iPhone 11, making for better low-light photos, and more detail in all photos.

Read our full review

Apple iPhone 12 with Carrier Subscription Price:$829.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best iPhone overall: iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro MaxImage source: Apple

Pros: Awesome camera, great battery life, excellent performance, great design

Cons: Super chunky, expensive

Really want all the latest and greatest features and don’t mind a huge phone? The iPhone 12 Pro Max is for you. Sure, it’s expensive, but it has an awesome camera, a solid amount of storage, and a great battery life.

Like the other models, the 12 Pro Max gets a new flat-edged design with Apple’s A14 Bionic processor. Unlike the standard iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, the 12 Pro Max offers a nice glossy stainless steel rail around the edge, and a frosted glass back. It’s a nice look.

There are some other differences to note too. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a larger body, and as a result, Apple was able to fit a larger battery into it. The phone should easily get you through a full day of heavy use, and well into the next day.

The camera on the phone is easily better than any other iPhone ever made. The device is the first to feature Apple’s new sensor-shift technology, which makes for more stable video. It also has a larger sensor than the other models, making for even better night shots and less noise. And, it offers 2.5x zoom, instead of the 2x zoom offered by the iPhone 12 Pro.

So what’s the downside? Well, the price. The device starts at $1,099, which isn’t cheap. Not only that, but if you want the better camera, you’re going to have to deal with a larger phone — and not everyone likes phones this big.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (Renewed) Price:$1,448.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best small iPhone: iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12 miniImage source: Apple Inc.

Pros: Compact body, excellent performance, cheaper than other iPhone 12 models

Cons: Battery life isn’t amazing, base model only has 64GB of storage

Phones have been getting bigger and bigger, but the iPhone 12 series finally marked the return of a compact model with the iPhone 12 mini. The 12 mini is basically an iPhone 12, in a smaller body. That means that you’ll get the same camera quality, the same design, the same processing power, and so on.

Given the smaller body, there are some tweaked features. The display, for example, sits in at 5.4 inches, while the battery is smaller than other models, and thus the battery life is a little lower.

Perhaps even better than the fact that the device is so compact is the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive. The device comes in at $699, which is cheaper than any other model in the series.

Apple iPhone 12 Mini Price:$729.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best cheap iPhone: iPhone SE

iPhone SEImage source: Apple

Pros: Inexpensive, excellent performance, Touch ID is still great

Cons: Aging design, camera is only fine

If you simply want to get Apple’s iOS at the cheapest price possible, then the iPhone SE is the way to go. The iPhone SE is worse than the iPhone 12 in pretty much every way, but it’s by no means a bad phone — and still excellent value.

The phone has the design of the iPhone 8, meaning that it has a larger forehead and chin, and a Touch ID sensor at the bottom of the front. While it does look a little dated, it still has a classic design that many love.

The phone doesn’t offer the latest and greatest performance, but it’s still an excellent-performing phone. You’ll get an Apple A13 Bionic processor, along with either 64, 128, or 256GB of storage. On the back of the phone, there’s a 12-megapixel camera, and it can take relatively good photos, especially for a phone in this price range.

Apple iPhone SE Price:$399.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best last-generation iPhone: iPhone 11

iPhone 11Image source: Apple

Pros: Modern design, excellent performance, good camera

Cons: No 5G, base model only has 64GB of storage

Just because you don’t want to spend $700+, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a relatively modern device. Apple is still selling the iPhone 11, and it comes in at an impressive $600.

The phone offers an edge-to-edge design with a notch for Face ID at the top. The display sits in at 6.1 inches, and while it’s not an OLED display, it still looks great.

Under the hood, the phone features an Apple A13 Bionic processor, which means that it should be powerful enough to handle anything you can throw at it, whether it be mobile gaming, productivity, or anything else.

On the back of the phone, you’ll get a dual-camera system. That includes one 12-megapixel main camera and one 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. It doesn’t have the larger aperture on offer by the newer models, but it still takes excellent photos in almost all situations, including low light. Like the iPhone 12, you won’t get a dedicated telephoto camera here.

There is another major feature missing compared to the iPhone 12, and that’s support for 5G. 5G isn’t exactly game-changing yet, so most won’t care for at least another year or so — but as carriers continue to build out their 5G networks, you may miss it.

Generally speaking though, the iPhone 11 should last you for years to come. It may be a year old, but Apple is known for supporting devices for years, and most won’t notice a huge difference in the experience between the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.

Apple iPhone 11 Price:$599.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

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