Everything you need to know about the five top iPhone models on the market right now
Best iPhone Models of 2022
Apple’s iPhone lineup is looking pretty darn good in 2022. There’s the iPhone 13, the new iPhone SE, and plenty of other older iPhone models and variants to choose from. In fact, there are so many Apple phones that it’s easy to suffer from decision fatigue.
Don’t fret, we’re here to help you pick the best iPhone for you, whether it’s the super affordable (yet still powerful) SE or the turbocharged Pro Max. Read on for all the important details on our top five picks, from the pricing to the camera specs.
- : Best All Around Device
- : Best Performance
- : Best Budget Pick
- : Best Compact Device
- : Best Value
What to look for in an iPhone
If only there were a dating app that would pair you with the perfect cell phone (OkCuphone? iHarmony? Call Me Maybe?). Since there isn’t, you’ll have to stick with this guide. But we have a few tips to help you choose the perfect device. (If you already know exactly what you want then you can skip this section. We won’t be offended.)
- Choose a price range
You can easily end up spending over $1,000 on a new device. That’s great, if you can afford it. But many of us can’t, so be sure you go into your shopping with a price point in mind. Some iPhones on this list go for under $500, and can be even cheaper if you snag a good promo deal.
- Know your phone plan
These days, most smartphones will work with any carrier (you can usually unlock a phone if it isn’t unlocked already). But you should still know what phone plan you're on to be sure you get a compatible phone (not all iPhones work on 5G, for instance).
- Don’t fall for extra features that you’ll never use
There are some very cool features on luxury phones like the iPhone Pro Max, but not everyone will really use them (like the “true depth camera array”). Don’t pay extra for something that you don’t really need!
- Consider the future life span of your device
Apple has been pretty good at keeping old phones serviced with new software and security updates, but eventually every phone will enter the digital graveyard. Newer models will almost certainly be serviced further into the future than older ones, which is one major advantage to opting for, say, an iPhone 13 over an iPhone 11.
- Know your cameras
A lot of words have been written here and elsewhere about iPhone cameras. But what exactly is a megapixel? Is optical zoom important? Figure out what you really want from a phone camera before going in for a pricey three-lens piece of equipment.
- Consider what you use your phone for throughout the day
Overall, the most important thing is to take stock of how you really use your phone. Check your existing phone battery and usage logs to see what you spend the most time doing. If you game a lot, get a phone with a powerful processor and crisp display. If you are on business calls all day, opt for a bigger battery. If you really just text and scroll through Insta every once in a while, consider a budget pick.
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iPhone 13: Best all around device
The iPhone 13 is Apple’s latest flagship model, and it is a powerful, easy-to-use device that will likely be the best choice for most users.
Apple may have made more phone models than there are Fast and Furious movies, but that doesn’t mean it has cut down on quality or ingenuity. The iPhone 13 comes with an impressive array of features. We’ll go over some of our favorite details here, beginning with the display.
iPhone 13 display
Apple’s iPhone 13 rocks a “Super Retina” XDR display that is a full 28% brighter than the iPhone 12’s display. That means you’ll get a clearer, fuller image quality even when you’re using your phone outside under the glaring summer sun.
The phone’s large, high-definition screen is perfect for those who love to game and stream on their phones. With the iPhone 13, your PUBG Mobile game will look (almost) as good as your COD: Modern Warfare game on your PC.
The iPhone 13 is also available in a 256 GB version for $899 and a 512 GB version for $1,099.
iPhone 13 battery and charging
With greater performance comes greater power demands. But the iPhone 13 has risen to the challenge with a huge battery that can (according to Apple) get you a full 19 hours of continuous video playback at a full charge. Apple also claims that the battery lasts 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12’s.
The iPhone 13 is compatible with MagSafe accessories and wireless chargers, so you don’t have to worry so much about those finicky white cords that tend to fray (and disappear just when you need one most!).
iPhone 13 cameras
The iPhone made a name for itself by offering unprecedented phone camera technology. While other companies, like Samsung and Google, have caught up in recent years, Apple phones still pack professional quality camera specs.
The iPhone 13 has two cameras on its back, a wide lens and an ultra-wide lens. The camera has 2x optical zoom range, meaning you can capture detail even at a distance. But beyond the specs, the pictures from the iPhone 13 are just stunning.
Compared to other phone cameras at the same price point, the iPhone 13 tends to deliver crisper, brighter photos. Users say that its night mode is unbeatable. The phone also lets you choose different photo styles, like “vibrant” and “rich contrast.”
You see the iPhone 13’s different photo styles (and learn a lot more about the phone) in this video review from our very own Tshaka Armstrong.
iPhone 13 performance and specs
With the A15 bionic chipset, the iPhone 13 works as smoothly as any phone on the market. You won’t have to worry about having multiple apps open at once or slow-response times when you’re trying to flip through photos.
iPhone 13 price
If you want to buy the iPhone 13 upfront from Apple or another seller, it will cost you $799 (or more). That's a decent price for a top-of-the-line device. It’s about the same as the Samsung Galaxy S22, though it’s pricier than the Google Pixel 6.
But the way to get the best price on the iPhone 13 (besides getting it as a birthday gift from your sweetie) is to buy it from a carrier that’s offering a deal. Verizon, for example, will give you up to $439.99 off the iPhone 13 (plus a bunch of other perks), when you sign up for a new unlimited plan.
The iPhone may be the device that ushered in the era of smartphones, but it’s not the only game in town. The Samsung Galaxy is a fierce competitor, and often takes the top spot for the best phone of the year. If you’re still not sure which kind of phone is right for you, check out this primer from Tshaka Armstrong and read up on some tips for switching from iPhone to Android (or vice versa) if you’re ready to switch.
iPhone 13 Pro Max: Best performance
If you’re the type of gadget-head who likes to grab the newest noise-canceling headphones, 4K TV, or Apple Watch, then the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the phone for you. This machine has the best of the best in nearly every category.
iPhone 13 Pro Max display
This gigantic 6.7-inch “Super Retina” XDR display is basically the IMAX of the phone world. The iPhone 13 Pro Max’s ProMotion gives you a 120 Hz refresh rate, which is twice as fast as the regular iPhone 13, giving you better overall responsiveness when scrolling, streaming, or gaming.
While the ProMotion technology is definitely the biggest upgrade with the Pro Max, you’ll also see better overall brightness and clarity. In short, this is definitely the best iPhone display on the market right now (and perhaps the best phone display of all time). But you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out this video review from Tshaka to see the Pro Max’s display in action.
iPhone 13 Pro Max battery and charging
The Pro Max’s 120Hz refresh rate comes with a cost: battery drain. This is one of the reasons that Apple has equipped the iPhone 13 Pro Max with an enormous battery. It can easily last a full day of consistent use, whether you’re streaming video or scrolling through Insta.
The Pro Max works with wireless charging technology and MagSafe accessories. And, despite its size, the battery charges fast, reaching half-charge after just 30 minutes of charging on a USB-C charger.
iPhone 13 Pro Max camera
It’s hard to know where to start with the Pro Max’s cameras. The phone’s three (wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto) lenses make for truly professional level photography, not to mention the 12 MP front-facing camera that takes perfect selfies.
Every photo comparison we’ve seen shows that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best iPhone for photographers of all varieties. It excels in low-light situations, long-distance shots (with a 3x zoom feature), and on bright days when there can be a lot of glare from the sun. Plus, you’ll get the nifty photo style options that come on the regular iPhone 13.
iPhone 13 Pro Max performance and specs
This phone has 6 GB of RAM, which is more than many modern home computers. It uses the same powerful A15 bionic chip as the regular iPhone 13, but it’s noticeably faster, especially when video editing or using high-demand apps like PeakVisor.
iPhone 13 Pro Max price
Let’s be honest: this phone is not cheap. You’ll be paying at least $1,000 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max, unless you’ve got some killer trade-in deal from a carrier like AT&T.
While shelling out a grand for a new phone might sound outrageous, it’s honestly worth it for those who want high performance. The Pro Max truly excels in every category, making it the best iPhone of all time.
iPhone SE: Best budget pick
Ever since it launched the original iPhone in 2007, Apple’s devices have been some of the most sought after gadgets on the market. They’ve also been some of the priciest. But the company has made an effort to change that in recent years with the iPhone SE.
The SE is basically a stripped down version of Apple’s flagship phones. It has all of the basics: a good camera, a decent battery, and a high-performing processor, without the more expensive features, like additional camera lenses and huge display.
Here’s everything you need to know.
iPhone SE display
The iPhone SE has had three iterations. The most recent one—the iPhone SE (2022)—has a “pocket-friendly” 4.7-inch screen that looks great, though it lacks the fast refresh rate of the iPhone 13 Pro Max and some of the crisp brightness of the regular iPhone 13.
While this display is nothing to write home about, it will do the trick for most casual users (and is definitely good considering the price tag).
iPhone SE battery and charging
The iPhone SE’s biggest flaw is probably its shorter battery life. The first two generations of the phone are known for their inability to hold a charge for the whole day. Many users (this author included) have noted that their iPhone SE would run out of juice around 5:00 p.m.
The new 2022 model is said to have a much larger battery that can easily handle 10 hours of audio playback. While it certainly doesn’t match the battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it's enough for most people.
iPhone SE camera
While the standard iPhone 13 has two camera lenses and the Pro/Pro Max version has three, the SE comes with just a single lens, with no ultra-wide angle or optical zoom. Another notable feature that’s missing is night mode. This is another one of the major trade-offs that comes with the less expensiver price tag.
That said, the iPhone SE (2022) can still take some gorgeous photos and videos that will do the trick for casual TikTok posts, family portraits, and silly cat pics. You can see some of the phone’s pictures for yourself in Tshaka Armstrong’s video review of the iPhone SE.
iPhone SE performance and specs
Despite being hundreds of dollars less, the iPhone SE (2022) comes with the very same A15 processor as the iPhone 13/13 Pro/13 Pro Max. That means it can handle pretty much any app, game, or other software that you throw at it.
The newest version of the iPhone SE is equipped with 5G technology. This is great news for those who want to hop onto T-Mobile or Verizon’s new millimeter-wave networks but don’t want to pay out the nose for a luxury 5G phone.
iPhone SE price
At $430, the iPhone SE is the cheapest iPhone on the market. And it’s also less expensive than the latest Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel devices. It costs about as much as second-tier phones, while still having top-tier components, like the A15 bionic processor. That’s hard to beat.
iPhone 12 mini: Best compact phone
Why, you might ask, are we talking about the iPhone 12 mini when there’s a newer iPhone 13 mini? The simple answer is that we think the iPhone 12 mini is nearly as good as the newer model, while being a good bit cheaper. Sometimes people sleep on the older iPhone models, but we like to remind people that there’s still plenty to love.
iPhone 12 mini display
At 5.4-inches, the iPhone 12 mini is actually a bit bigger than the iPhone SE. But to those who have been lugging around standard sized (or oversized) iPhones for years, this thing will feel tiny. It fits perfectly into the pocket of your jeans or the side pocket of your purse.
As for the display itself, you’ll get a beautiful HDR image that actually packs in a higher resolution than the standard iPhone 12.
iPhone 12 mini battery and charging
The iPhone 12 mini’s battery is smaller than the standard iPhone 12’s, but it should still last a full day (or close to that) for most people. When you do start to run out of juice, you can plug it in for a rapid recharge. The battery will get around 50% of its life back within 30 minutes with a 20W charger.
iPhone 12 mini camera
One thing you won’t miss out on with the iPhone 12 mini is the camera technology. It comes with the same dual 12 megapixel wide and ultra-wide lenses at the standard iPhone 12. You’ll get a 2x optical zoom, a beautiful night-mode, and plenty of other powerful features.
As always, we’ll refer you to our favorite Youtube phone reviewer, Tshaka, for a closer look at the iPhone 12 mini’s camera in action.
iPhone 12 mini performance and specs
The iPhone 12 mini uses the same processor as the standard iPhone 12. It’s the super-fast and efficient A14 bionic. While that’s one number lower than the A15 chip that the iPhone 13 mini has, most people won’t notice any difference at all. You’ll be able to stream, game, scroll, post, and shoot video to your heart’s content without any slowdown or overheating.
iPhone 12 mini price
The mini isn’t just smaller than the normal iPhone 12. It’s also $100 less expensive. You can get this phone for $599 upfront from Apple or from a carrier like Visible Wireless.
iPhone 11: Best value
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I never buy the latest phone model. I wait until the previous models are a few years old, then I buy one. Why? Because I know that I’ll get more bang for my buck with an older model than I will with the fancy, new device.
This is why we’re talking about the iPhone 11, which was released all the way back in 2019, before the pandemic, before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle quit the royal family, and before Tiger King ever aired. It’s a relic of a bygone time, but we’re here to tell you that it still kicks.
iPhone 11 display
This phone has a 6.1-inch LCD display that looks clear and bright, even if it lacks the richness of the newer XDR displays that Apple has put on newer phones. Most casual users probably won’t notice much difference between the display of an iPhone 13 and that of an iPhone 11.
One thing that might perturb some customers is the phone’s overall design. The iPhone 11 came out before Apple went back to the flat-edged body for its iPhones. Your phone may work great, but it will look like every other iPhone from the 2010s.
iPhone 11 battery and charging
We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this section because there isn’t much to say. The iPhone 11 has excellent battery life. It may not last quite as long as the iPhone 13 Pro Max or some of the highest-tier Android devices, but a single overnight charge should keep most users going all day long.
Every once in a while Apple decides to take a leap (rather than an incremental step) with its new iPhone model. Back in 2019 it did this with the iPhone 11. Specifically, the company upped its camera game significantly by introducing a second 12-megapixel sensor.
The iPhone 11 set the standard for “good phone camera” and not much has really changed with the newer models. It takes incredible wide-angle photos, clear low-light pictures, and stellar 4K videos. Tshaka shows off everything it can do in the video below.
Performance and specs
The iPhone 11 is equipped with Apple A13 bionic processor and 4GB of RAM. That’s plenty of horsepower, so to speak, for pretty much every kind of activity, from playing a Candy Crush to editing high-resolution videos.
Some of the heaviest users might notice a bit of lag when they’re using high-demand apps or doing a serious bout of online gaming, but it should be negligible (especially when compared to any other phone that’s three years old).
While the iPhone 11 is the oldest model that Apple still sells directly, you may still find other devices, like the iPhone X, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS Max on sale from other retailers. These devices have their flaws, of course, but they’re still great options for many casual users who want to save some hard earned cash.
Of course, the main reason to go for an iPhone 11 over one of the other phones on this list is the cost. It’s $300 less expensive than a standard iPhone 13, while offering nearly the same experience for casual users.
While it retails for $499, you might be able to score this phone for less (or even for free) if you’re signing up for a new plan, like this one from Verizon Wireless.
Recap: What’s the best iPhone model for you?
There you have it, the five best iPhones in 2022. Now you just have to choose the one that’s perfect for you. Here’s a little recap to help you make up your mind.
- iPhone 13: An elegant mixture of high-performance and affordability, the iPhone 13 packs in a super-fast processor, high-performance dual camera lenses, and tons of powerful features with a starting price under $800.
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: This is, quite simply, the most powerful iPhone ever made. It has best-in-class cameras, an enormous battery, and a seamless, 120 Hz display. It’s not cheap but worth it for the right user.
- iPhone SE: Apple’s budget iPhone gives you the same powerful internal processor that the flagship iPhone 13 uses for a much lower price. It also has a beautiful display, powerful camera, and decent battery life.
- iPhone 12 mini: Pay less for the pocket-friendly version of Apple’s iPhone 12. You really don’t miss out on much with this scaled down phone (besides a slightly smaller battery).
- iPhone 11: This iPhone may be a few years old, but it’s aged like a fine wine. Save hundreds of dollars while still enjoying smooth performance, a crisp display, and stellar photos.
That was one long review. But we’re fading like your old iPhone 7’s battery life, so it’s time to sign off. Thanks for sticking with us!
We always like to give our readers a peek under the hood, so to speak. Here’s a quick rundown of our decision-making process.
We judged the best iPhone models of 2022 by looking at the following criteria (not necessarily in order of importance):
- Battery life
- Charging performance
- Processor speed and reliability
- Display technology
- Display size
- Casing and overall design
- Camera lenses
- Camera software and features
- Wireless technology (4G, LTE, 5G, etc.)
If you think we missed something, feel free to chime in using the comments section below.