The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Which iPhone should I buy? Comparing Apple’s best phones, from the 13 to the SE

With so many launches to choose from, we’ve broken down the details of each model

Anthony Cuthbertson,Sarah Young
Monday 04 October 2021 17:23
<p>Are you a pro max or a mini kind of Apple user? </p>

Are you a pro max or a mini kind of Apple user?

Since the launch of its first iPhone in 2007, Apple has become one of the most popular smartphone manufacturers in the UK alongside the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei.

Each year, the brand launches a new range of phones that feature cutting-edge technologies, spanning high-end to more affordable models – the latest of which are the iPhone 13 (from £779, Carphonewarehouse.com), iPhone 13 mini (from £679, Amazon.co.uk), iPhone 13 pro (from £949, Amazon.co.uk) and iPhone 13 pro max (from £1,049, Amazon.co.uk), which were introduced in September 2021.

That’s not to say older models aren’t worth considering though. Previous years’ iPhones, such as the iPhone 12 (from £729, Very.co.uk), tend to stick around after a new launch and, because Apple keeps its features so up to date, they remain relevant for a long time. Plus, they’re often discounted, making them a great choice for anyone looking to save money.

Despite the allure of having the latest technology, cost is likely to be a big factor when it comes to choosing the right phone for you, so make sure to weigh up exactly what new features you get for the extra money. For example, a newer model might give you an extra camera, but is that really something you need?

Of course, the answer will vary depending on what you’re looking for in a smartphone, so to help you decide which iPhone is worth investing in we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to Apple’s current line-up which, as well as the latest drop, includes the iPhone SE (£389, Very.co.uk), iPhone 11 (£489, Amazon.co.uk), iPhone 12 (£729, Very.co.uk), iPhone 12 mini (£667, Ao.com), iPhone 12 pro (£849, Very.co.uk) and iPhone 12 pro max (from £1,049, Currys.co.uk).

Read more:

iPhone 13 mini: From £679, Amazon.co.uk

Best for: The budget conscious. The iPhone 13 mini is the smallest and most affordable option in the latest lineup, and, with the exception of screen size and battery life, it has the exact same features as the iPhone 13.

Worst for: Phone addicts. If you’re constantly using your phone and don’t have time in your day to keep it charged, this might not be the best option as, while battery life has improved this year, it has the lowest of all the iPhone 13 models, offering up to 17 hours video playback.

Read the full iPhone 13 mini review

Buy now

iPhone 13: From £779, Carphonewarehouse.com

Best for: Battery life. The iPhone 13 has up to 19 hours video playback. This gives you an extra 2.5 hours of use compared to the respective 12 and 12 mini from last year, and can easily run to the end of the day.

Worst for: Clumsy people. Unlike the pros, which have a shiny, stainless-steel antenna band, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini use aluminium, which is matte instead, making them slightly less durable.

Read the full iPhone 13 review

Buy now

iPhone 13 pro: From £949, Amazon.co.uk

Best for: Photography enthusiasts. The iPhone 13 pro and 13 pro max have the most advanced camera technology yet, with a new larger sensor for the wide lens that lets in even more light, a 70mm telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom, and an upgraded ultra-wide lens. Portrait mode comes to video for the first time too, with something called “cinematic mode”.

Worst for: Thrifty shoppers. With only slight advancements on the iPhone 12 pro, some might argue that the latest model isn’t quite worth the additional £100 that Apple is charging.

Read the full iPhone 13 pro review

Buy now

iPhone 13 pro max: From £1,049, Amazon.co.uk

Best for: Commuters. The iPhone 13 pro max has a large 6.7-inch OLED screen, meaning it’s a must-have for anyone that needs the biggest display possible, whether that’s for watching films while you’re on the go or editing photos.

Worst for: Small phone lovers. While a bigger screen might be a boon for some, it’s a drawback for others, particularly those who like to slip their phone into their trouser pocket and get on with their day.

Read the full iPhone 13 pro max review

Buy now

iPhone 12 mini: From £667, Ao.com

Best for: Steve Jobs purists. The co-founder of Apple famously once said that “no one’s going to buy” a big smartphone. Market trends proved him wrong and fans of small handsets have been overlooked for years. Until now. The iPhone 12 mini packs the same big features as the iPhone 12 without the larger size.

Worst for: Screen junkies. People who use their phones to watch shows and films regularly will not appreciate the 5.4in display. Anyone used to larger-screened devices may also find the smaller size fiddly.

Buy now

iPhone 12: rom £729, Very.co.uk

Best for: An all-rounder. If having the latest model isn’t high on your list of priorities, consider the iPhone 12, which is designed to have the broadest appeal. It is a comprehensive package, complete with upgraded specs packed into a familiar form factor.

Worst for: iPhone 11 owners. The upgrade to the iPhone 12 is not worth the extra money that Apple is asking for, with only slight improvements on the internals, and 5G support that has few practical applications at this stage.

Read the full iPhone 12 review

Buy now

iPhone 12 pro: From £849, Very.co.uk

Best for: The professional user. Photographers and filmmakers will want this phone as an everyday shooter. The three-lens array combined with a neural engine and ultra-powerful chip means the iPhone 12 pro is capable of filming, editing and sharing Dolby Vision HDR video.

Worst for: iPhone 11 lovers. The curved edges of the iPhone 11 have been replaced on this newer model with stark, flat sides and, while it’s a pretty minimal change, it could be a deal-breaker for anyone that preferred the look and feel of the softer design. Apple has taken the 12 pro off its official lineup, so you can only currently buy it at third-party retailers.

Read the full iPhone 12 pro review

Buy now

iPhone 12 pro max: From £1,049, Currys.co.uk

Best for: Screen junkies. The 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display is 0.2-inches bigger than the already-enormous iPhone 11 pro max. It packs in nearly 3.5 million pixels and offers what Apple describes as a “remarkable, true-to-life viewing experience."

Worst for: Anyone without £1,049 burning a hole in their pocket. It’s not uncommon for flagship smartphones to stretch above £1,000 these days, but it means top-of-the-range devices are unfortunately beyond the reach of the majority of customers.

Buy now

iPhone 11: From £489, Amazon.co.uk

Best for: Economical iPhone 12 lovers. You wouldn’t have to squint much to mistake the iPhone 12 for the iPhone 11. At a glance they share the same dual-camera setup on the rear and notch on the front screen.

Worst for: Future-proofers. It may be £200 cheaper than the iPhone 12 and look almost identical, but it is missing two key features on the inside: A more powerful chip and 5G support. Both of these may end up saving buyers from having to upgrade earlier.

Buy now

iPhone SE: From £389, Very.co.uk

Best for: The budget pick. At £389, the iPhone SE is the perfect entry-level device for anyone who wants a high-quality Apple handset without the eye-bulging price tag. 

Worst for: Trendsetters. The age of the iPhone SE is beginning to show, especially when displayed alongside its newer counterparts. Its screen may be 0.7-inches smaller than the iPhone 12 mini, but the device itself is actually taller, wider and heavier.

Buy now

iPhone model comparison

Size

Tele photo lens

Wide lens

Ultra-wide lens

120Hz display

PPI

Optical zoom

Battery (in video hrs)

iPhone 13 mini

5.4in

✔️

✔️

476

2x

17 hrs

iPhone 13

6.1in

✔️

✔️

460

2x

19 hrs

iPhone 13 pro

6.1in

✔️

✔️

✔️

✔️

460

6x

22 hrs

iPhone 13 pro max

6.7in

✔️

✔️

✔️

✔️

458

6x

28 hrs

iPhone 12 mini

5.4in

✔️

✔️

476

2x

15 hrs

iPhone 12

6.1in

✔️

✔️

460

2x

17 hrs

iPhone 12 pro

6.1in

✔️

✔️

✔️

460

4x

17 hrs

iPhone 12 pro max

6.7in

✔️

✔️

✔️

458

5x

20 hrs

iPhone 11

6.1in

✔️

✔️

458

2x

17 hrs

iPhone SE

4.7in

326

13 hrs

None of the above

The incremental nature of iPhone upgrades means there’s not too much to pick between different generations. Apple is yet to branch out into the more innovative folding designs that rivals Huawei and Samsung are offering, so customers may want to consider the far more diverse yet similarly spec-matching Android devices.

Notorious leaker Evan Blass, who leaked the entire iPhone 12 range just hours ahead of its launch, received hundreds of likes when he tweeted after the launch: “I haven’t found an iPhone really compelling in years… and that remains true today.”

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on phones and other tech offers, try the links below:

We put the Samsung Galaxy S21 head to head with Apple’s iPhone 12 – here’s what we thought

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in