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Best iPhone 2022: Which Apple model should you buy?

With the arrival of the iPhone 14, Apple's phone line-up has developed even further. So which handset is right for you?

iPhone 14 Pro
Published: Monday, 12th September 2022 at 5:55 pm

The iPhone 14 is here. Following Apple's unveiling of the latest series of iPhones at the recent online event entitled 'Far Out', we're taking a look at how the new phones compare to their predecessors and which iPhone is the best one for you.

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The newest member of the iPhone family is the iPhone 14 Plus. This takes the place of the iPhone 13 mini, with the 'mini' size being axed in favour of the larger 'Plus' which offers a 6.7-inch display. This display size is very much in vogue at the minute, but fans of small phones will no-doubt be sad about the mini's demise.

So which of these new phones, or the older alternatives, might suit you?

There’s a lot to consider so it’s worth doing your research, especially if the device will be a constant companion used for work, social media, watching videos, daily alarm clocks, photography, gaming, catching up on the news and more.

One major aspect to consider when it comes to newer models is MagSafe – Apple’s magnet-based technology for wireless charging and accessories. If you want this, be aware that only the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 families support it.

Shopping for add-ons? Here’s our guides to the best iPhone accessories you can buy in 2022, the best smartphone tripods and the best portable chargers.

Obsessed with Apple tech and shopping for a new tablet? Don’t miss our in-depth breakdown of the best iPad you can buy in 2022, based on hands-on testing.

But what other factors should you consider when making a purchase, and which of the Apple iPhones are best suited to your own budget and required specs? Read on to find out.

Jump to:

Best Apple iPhones 2022 at a glance

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Best Apple iPhones you can buy in 2022

Apple iPhone SE (2nd generation), £389 (RRP)

Best budget iPhone

Apple iPhone SE (2nd gen) Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket/ Getty Images

Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Affordable iOS experience
  • Solid camera setup

Cons:

  • Battery drains quickly
  • Small display
  • No face ID

The iPhone SE (2nd gen) is Apple’s most affordable modern iPhone. It’s a seriously good option for anyone on a budget. For sub £500, you get the A13 Bionic Chip, a functional design, a decent screen, and a very good 12MP camera that handles bright daylight shots with vibrancy and accurate colour reproduction.

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The camera is by no means class-leading and it's now well behind the newer iPhone models. With only one 12MP main camera and a 7MP front-facing camera capable of bokeh portraits it's enough for most, but don’t expect incredible selfies.

Despite this, the main camera is excellent in good light. Sure, the screen is only an LCD (retina HD), as opposed to OLED like some of the more premium iPhones on offer, but having a class-leading display isn’t the be-all and end-all for many.

Read our full iPhone SE (2nd gen) review.

Buy the Apple iPhone SE (2nd gen):

Apple iPhone 14, from £849 (RRP)

Best value iPhone

iPhone 14 colours

Pros:

  • Improved safety features
  • Clear and vibrant display
  • Professional-looking photos
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Same chip as iPhone 13
  • Lacks the power of the Pro range
  • 60Hz refresh rate not for gamers

Apple's version of a mid-range phone is pretty expensive to take that title, but here it is. If you're an Apple fan who's keen to stay within the Apple ecosystem, this is probably the best value iPhone for you.

It's £849 for the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 14 or £949 for the iPhone 14 Plus.

While sacrifices have been made when compared to the top specs of the 14 Pro and Pro Max, the standard iPhone 14 is intended for anyone who wants a taste of one of the hottest phones of the year without paying full flagship prices.

Buy the Apple iPhone 14:

Apple iPhone 13 mini, from £679 (RRP)

Best small iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Pros:

  • Takes good photos even in low light
  • Great battery life for such a small device
  • Fantastic value for money

Cons:

  • 5.4-inch display not suited to gaming
  • Feels cheaper than the price would suggest

If you don’t want a huge iPhone that you struggle to use without both hands – then the iPhone 13 mini (much like the 12 mini last year) is the model for you.

It shares a surprising amount of specs with the iPhone 13 despite costing less – including 5G, a dual 12MP camera setup, A15 chip, water resistance to a depth of six metres, MagSafe compatibility and three storage options: 128GB 256GB and 512GB. But the 13 Mini’s main selling point is that tiny 5.4-inch display size.

It clearly won’t be for everyone – especially anyone who wants to use the phone for Netflix or heavy gaming sessions – but fans of small phones will love it.

As we wrote in our iPhone 13 mini review: “The iPhone 13 mini has many of the hallmarks of an entry-level device – namely its lower price and small size – yet offers a whole host of hardware and software features to make it feel more flagship. It’s powerful, it lasts almost all day, the quality of the photos and videos you can take on it are far and above what we’d expect for an entry-level handset, and it looks great.”

Buy the Apple iPhone 13 mini:

Apple iPhone 14 Pro, from £1,099 (RRP)

Best iPhone for most users

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Pros:

  • New A16 processor
  • Incredible camera setup
  • Sharp, clear display

Cons:

  • Undoubtedly expensive
  • Lacks the power of the 14 Pro Max

The much-anticipated iPhone 14 Pro packs the new Apple silicon that's missing in the mainline iPhone 14. That new A16 chip sounds pretty impressive and we can't wait to test it for ourselves soon.

The Pro is packed with features, including the all-new 'dynamic island' which offers notifications and alerts to you without interfering with apps you're already using. It's an interesting new tool and a design choice that sees Apple lean into the much-debated 'notch' styling point.

It's the follow up to an amazingly impressive phone in the iPhone 13 Pro. As we wrote in our full iPhone 13 Pro review, if you can afford it, the handset is the top option of the entire iPhone 13 range as "it combines next level hardware with optimised software all within a form factor that will suit most people."

Buy the Apple iPhone 14 Pro:

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, from £1,049 (RRP)

Best iPhone for power users

iPhone 14 Pro

Pros:

  • Unprecedented battery life
  • Professional camera setup
  • Sharp display with dynamic refresh rates

Cons:

  • Undoubtedly expensive
  • Large size may not suit everyone

Just as with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, the 14 Pro Max is for those with deep pockets, in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Yes, it’s Apple's priciest iPhone, but it’s also its heftiest and largest with an enormous 6.7-inch OLED screen. This is for the power users.

The real USP of the Pro and Pro Max phones in the new iPhone 14 series is that they get that new processor — the A16 — which the standard phone and the iPhone 14 Plus miss out on. That means faster, smoother, more powerful performance, plus better image processing and much more.

There's a new camera too and a great display, as ever. It gets the 120Hz refresh rate that the standard phone misses out on as well.

This latest power user-friendly offering from Apple follows a hugely impressive phone in the iPhone 13 Pro Max. As we noted in the full iPhone 13 Pro Max review: "Few of us can warrant spending more than £1,000 for a phone, but… for those who can, this is the best phone money can buy. Its huge screen is clear, vibrant and perfect for both streaming and working where needed. Its high price means the 13 Pro Max comes with a wide and varied range of hardware and software features that outdo the competition."

Buy the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max:

How we tested the best Apple iPhones

When there are so many iPhones deserving of our attention we look at a series of criteria and take cost into account. We weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each model and explore the overall impact of any shortcomings.

Design and set-up are really important. For an iPhone to score highly, it must be enjoyable to use and comfortable in hand, built from high-quality materials.

Cameras are one of the focal points of assessing iPhones as they’re a defining quality of smartphone technology. We analyse image quality in all scenarios to find out how the lenses perform in the real world, pixel-peeping to see where there’s a lack of detail and how the iPhone fares in trickier lighting scenarios.

Performance is another key metric for testing. We run Geekbench tests and stack up all the competitors to show where the A16, A15 and other Bionic Chips stand. More than that, though, we test these phones with heavy gaming, video editing, and multitasking to see how they cope when the going gets tough.

Finally, what good is any of this if the battery life ends up being rubbish? That’s why we take detailed notes on the handset’s battery life specs and take this into consideration when working out which iPhone deserves a spot in the list.

How to choose the best iPhone in 2022

Apple has four iPhones as of this year. In theory, each will serve a different type of user. For example, the iPhone 14 Plus is for those who want a bigger display without paying the Pro price, while anyone with the top high-end specs, battery and camera setup will gravitate towards the most expensive 14 Pro Max, which is the most powerful option.

Broadly, we can break down the buying process into five criteria: design, camera, battery, performance and MagSafe. Here’s what you need to consider:

Design: The iPhone 12, 13 and iPhone 14 smartphones look similar in terms of aesthetics, but it’s worth considering which will be the most comfortable to use on a daily basis. For instance, if you’ve got small hands an iPhone 13 Pro Max will be unwieldy and it might be worth looking at the older iPhone 13 mini. Each iPhone is available in different colours too.

MagSafe: One major aspect to consider when it comes to newer iPhone models is MagSafe – Apple’s magnet-based tech for wireless charging and accessories. If you want this, be aware that only the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 will support it.

Camera: All recent iPhones have high-end cameras, but only the Pro and Pro Max models have an additional Telephoto lens. So if taking images of subjects in the distance, you will definitely need the Pro or Max models.

Battery life: Apple iPhones will vary in battery life. That’s down to two factors: the literal size of the battery cell – larger iPhones tend to have larger batteries – and the processor, which is responsible for power consumption and cleverly preserving as much energy as possible when the phone isn’t in use.

Performance: Apple has made leaps in its processors in recent years and the latest A16 Bionic Chip thrashes most of the competition for both speed and power. Older iPhone models are still more than suitable for most users, though, and the iPhone 14 carrying the A15 chip still performs very, very well.

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