Best iPhone 2022: Which Apple model should you buy?

When the first Apple iPhone was unveiled to the world back in 2007, there was just one model on offer. Those times are a thing of the past.

We have tested all of the handsets that make up the most recent series, and in this guide, we break down which ones are worthy of your hard-earned money.

Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone SE (3rd gen) at its spring event today (8th March), so be sure to follow our Apple event live blog for the latest news.

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.

But what other factors should you consider when making the purchase and which of the Apple iPhones are best suited to your own budget and required specs?

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Best Apple iPhones 2022 at a glance

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 13 mini is for anyone who wants a smaller handset, while anyone with the top high-end specs, battery and camera setup will gravitate towards the most expensive 13 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 and iPhone 13 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. 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. All of the most recent iPhone 13 models support video recording up to 4K at 60 fps.

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 A15 Bionic Chip thrashes most of the competition for both speed and power. Older iPhone models are still more than suitable for most users, though.

How much will a new iPhone cost?

One of the big advantages to Apple launching a new series of iPhones every year is that the older models become slightly more affordable. Plus, 2020 saw the release of the iPhone SE (2nd gen), which puts the essentials into an iPhone for a fraction of the price of the flagships, so that’s great for anyone on a budget.

Depending on the model and storage size, you can spend anywhere between £380 and £1,500 on an iPhone that’s come out since 2020. You can go older, but we do generally recommend that you stay in the past three generations if possible.

The most affordable iPhone is still the iPhone SE (2nd gen), which is priced from £389. Although it’s a fantastic package, it doesn’t benefit from the latest Apple iPhone internals, 5G or MagSafe support that comes with the newer models.

Here’s the pricing (RRP) of the 12, 13 and SE series phones:

Consider your highest possible budget then work out a complete iPhone wish list, whether that’s size, camera, chipset, battery life, display resolution, MagSafe or 5G. Doing that will instantly narrow down what models you have as an option.

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


Lightweight and comfortable

Affordable iOS experience

Solid camera setup


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 2019’s 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.

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 13, from £779 (RRP)

Best value iPhone

Apple iPhone 13


Clear and vibrant display

Professional-looking photos

Great battery life


Lacks the power of the Pro range

60Hz refresh rate not for gamers

No telephoto camera lens

The iPhone 13 is, in our opinion, the best “all-rounder” of the current line-up, and it represents Apple’s version of a mid-range handset in the latest series.

It has the same size 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display as the 13 Pro and retains high-end specs such as 5G and the A15 Bionic chip, but costs £170 less.

While sacrifices have been made when compared to the top specs of the 13 Pro and Pro Max, the standard iPhone 13 is intended for anyone who wants a taste of one of the hottest phones of the year without paying full flagship prices.

As we wrote in our iPhone 13 review: “It's a relatively affordable way to get Apple's Cinematic Mode, which is worth a chunk of money on its own if you're into shooting videos. You don't get all the bells and whistles seen on the Pro range… but it's very clear why Apple has continued with its four-way handset release – the iPhone 13 offers the most appeal to the widest group possible.”

Buy the Apple iPhone 13:

Apple iPhone 13 mini, from £679 (RRP)

Best small iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 mini


Takes good photos even in low light

Great battery life for such a small device

Fantastic value for money


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 £100 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 13 Pro, from £949 (RRP)

Best iPhone for most users

Apple iPhone 13 Pro


Incredible camera setup

Sharp, clear display

Excellent battery life


Undoubtedly expensive

Lacks the power of the 13 Pro Max

The iPhone 13 Pro is £170 more expensive than the standard iPhone 13, and most of the upgrades are all about the cameras. Rocking a trio of 12MP cameras, there’s a telephoto lens you won’t find on the iPhone 13 or mini. This means the iPhone 12 Pro is going to take some of the best quality smartphone photography.

That’s not all though. It more than earns its Pro title with a better battery life than the iPhone 13 (22 hours video playback compared to 19) alongside better display brightness and “ProRes” video recording up to 4K at 30 frames per second.

During testing, we were fans of the “sturdy and robust” aluminium frame as well as the ProMotion tech that raises the refresh rate to up to 120Hz.

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 13 Pro:

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, from £1,049 (RRP)

Best iPhone for power users

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max


Unprecedented battery life

Professional camera setup

Sharp display with dynamic refresh rates


Undoubtedly expensive

Large size may not suit everyone

The Apple iPhone 13 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 iPhone 13 Pro Max comes with the latest tech: the A15 Bionic Chip, MagSafe, 5G, and a powerful camera system that can shoot in the ProRAW format, digital zoom up to 15x (5x on the standard 13) and a night portrait mode.

The massive display and high-end specs – such as ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30 fps and refresh rates of up to 120Hz – means the 13 Pro Max is the model for content creators or anyone who consumes or produces a lot of online videos.

Thankfully, the larger iPhone is backed up by a strong battery too, which should mitigate fears of the power-draining before you’ve plugged in again. We were very impressed with the capacity during testing, finding that it easily lasted for two days - providing 29 hours of playback in a looping video test.

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 the13 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 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.


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