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Consumer Reports: iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best iPhone you can buy

Updated Sep 14th, 2022 3:23PM EDT
Best Smartphones of 2021
Image: Apple Inc.

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Despite launching later than supposed to, and despite the premium prices, the iPhone 12 devices saw tremendous sales so far, fueling in part Apple’s record numbers during the December quarter. The cheapest iPhone 12 mini hasn’t been as successful as anticipated, but the more expensive Pro versions turned out to outperform estimates. Consumer Reports agrees that the iPhone 12 Pro versions are the best iPhones available right now, saying that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones of 2021 and the best iPhone to buy right now.

The iPhone 12 phones have the same high-end design and flagship hardware, being much more similar than the previous generation. All four handsets feature the same new design, and they’re all made of metal. For the first time since the iPhone X, all the phones in the newest series come with the same high-end OLED displays, and all the phones feature 5G connectivity. The Pros deliver the better camera systems, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max featuring a few extra camera tricks compared to the regular model.

With that in mind, the $829 iPhone 12 should be the best possible iPhone for most people this year. But Consumer Reports chose the more expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099, as the best iPhone of 2020 — from the sites “Best Smartphones of 2021” roundup:

While the 12 Pro Max will cost you $100 more than its smaller sibling, the 12 Pro, it packs in several more hours of battery life, a slightly larger display, and a 2.5x zoom camera that gets you just a hair closer to the action than the 12 Pro’s 2x camera.

On the flip side, the Max version is significantly heavier and can be tough to use one-handed, even for people with long fingers. If you’re wary of bulky phones, you might be happier with the 12 Pro.

Smartphone sales estimates for last year showed that the iPhone 11 was the undisputed king of the market, with the iPhone 12 ranking third in the chart. The iPhone 12 Pro Max came in seventh, according to stats from Omdia.

iPhone vs. Galaxy Sales
Omdia’s smartphone sales rankings for 2020 and 2019. Image source: Omdia via WCCFTech

It’s likely the iPhone 12 will be the best-sold iPhone of 2021, following in the footsteps of its predecessors, the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR.

Consumer Reports also produced similar conclusions for Android, choosing an equally expensive flagship as the best Android handset to buy. That’s last year’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, rather than the new Galaxy S21 Ultra that was launched in mid-January.

OnePlus’s mid-range phones took home two different awards from the publication. According to Consumer Reports testing, the $300 OnePlus Nord N10 is the best budget phone, while the cheaper OnePlus Nord N100 is the best phone for all-day battery life.

Consumer Reports’ “Best Smartphones of 2021” ranking is available at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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