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The best iPhones in 2023: which one should you buy?


Apple’s iPhone has been around for well over a decade now, and it’s always a great choice for those who are looking for a smartphone. For years, there was only one iPhone model to choose from, so your only decision was how much capacity to get and whether you wanted it with a darker black/grey or a lighter white/silver finish. Today, the latest iPhone models come in multiple versions, making the choice between them a bit more complicated.

For example, the newest iPhone 14 lineup offers four different models to choose from. Plus, Apple still sells the older iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and even the 2020-era iPhone 12. Lastly, there’s the iPhone SE for folks looking for an affordable, no-frills model, or those who still really like the traditional home button and Touch ID sensor.

With so many choices, which iPhone should you get? Our recommendation is the iPhone 14 Pro, which is also currently at the top of our overall best smartphones list as well. However, if you want to save some money, you can pick up the iPhone 13 or check out the latest iPhone deals, and if you want to see what else is out there, we have a list of best Android phones too.

The Deep Purple color iPhone 14 Pro.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Best iPhone overall


  • Camera improvements mean great photos
  • Always-on display looks fantastic
  • Powerful A16 Bionic processor
  • Vibrant screen and clear speakers
  • Long-term software support


  • One-day battery life
  • Modest charging speed

Why you should buy this: Those who take a lot of photos will want the upgraded 48-megapixel camera with fast performance of the A16 Bionic, and the Dynamic Island is useful.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the best Apple iPhone currently available.

The iPhone 14 Pro is the absolute best iPhone that Apple has made so far, thanks to a lot of big improvements. It’s important to note, though, that the A16 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 14 Pro line is exclusive to the Pro devices this time around, so you won’t find it in the standard iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus. The A16 Bionic is even faster than its predecessor and features a six-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores, and a five-core GPU gives you incredible graphical power in the palm of your hand. And with the 16-core Neural Engine, you have a ton of power for real-time video analysis and image processing.

Speaking of photos and video, the iPhone 14 Pro is an absolute beast for mobile photographers. Apple has upgraded the main camera to a whopping 48 megapixels, which is a huge jump from the 12 megapixels that it has used for the past several years. It also has an ultrawide and telephoto lens camera that can do both 2x and 3x zoom, unlike last year’s iPhone 13 Pro, which was only capable of 3x.

The 48-megapixel camera uses pixel binning by having four sub-pixels make up a single, larger pixel, so regular images shot with an iPhone 14 Pro will still say “12MP” in the metadata. However, you can shoot in full 48MP with Apple’s ProRAW format, giving you even more control over the post-editing process. But be warned! ProRAW images can be around 75MB each, so use them sparingly. Thankfully, the iPhone 14 Pro also goes up to 1TB of storage, so you can shoot in ProRAW to your heart’s content. And all of your photos and video, as well as graphics-intensive games will look stunning on the 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion 120Hz technology. And, yes, you can show off your photos with the new, always-on display.

Apple also got rid of the notch, replacing it with the Dynamic Island, which is a pill and hole-shaped cutout that houses the front-facing camera and Face ID sensors. The Dynamic Island is fluid and changes depending on what you are currently doing on the device. You can also interact with it through taps, and it will integrate with Live Activities in iOS 16 once those become available. It’s a nice new way of multitasking on the iPhone.

Lastly, the iPhone 14 Pro has some new safety features, though these are also available on the standard iPhone 14 models too. Emergency SOS via satellite lets you use satellite connectivity to reach emergency services if you are in an area without Wi-Fi or cellular data, which gives more peace of mind to those who like to hike or camp out in remote areas. There’s also car crash detection, which uses various sensors in the iPhone — like the accelerometer, gyroscope, and microphone — to detect if you’ve been involved in a severe car crash. If you are, the iPhone will automatically contact emergency services after about 10 seconds. Both of these are features you hope you don’t need to use but will be glad to have when you do need them.

The iPhone 14 Pro still has an all-day battery life of around 20-23 hours, and it’s fast-charge capable with a 20W power adapter. Standard Qi wireless charging still caps out at 7.5W, but you can get faster 15W wireless charging with an Apple-certified MagSafe charger.

Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro offers a ton of new features that make it worth the upgrade. Powerful and fast performance, huge camera upgrade (and bumps), always-on display with Dynamic Island, and new safety features — all while still offering all-day battery life. It’s the best iPhone yet.

iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Best iPhone overall

iPhone 14 Pro Max standing against a tree.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Best iPhone with a big screen


  • Exquisitely premium design
  • Beautiful 120Hz display
  • Dynamic Island is a joy
  • Always-on screen is gorgeous
  • Incredible camera system
  • Blistering performance
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Robust iOS 16 software


  • One of the heaviest phones you can buy
  • Expensive

Why you should buy this: It has a bigger screen so you can see more on the display at once.

Who it’s for: Anyone who prefers to have more screen area and an even better battery.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is basically the same as the iPhone 14 Pro, except it has a bigger 6.7-inch display and longer battery life. However, the rest is the same: design, A16, 48-megapixel camera, always-on display, 120Hz ProMotion, and up to 1TB storage.

With that in mind, if having the biggest screen is an important factor to you, and having battery life that lasts a little more than a full day (25 to 29 hours) is a necessity, then consider the iPhone 14 Pro Max. But you also need to keep in mind other factors, like how the larger screen feels — if you’re not already used to it, then it may be too much and uncomfortable to use. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is also significantly heavier, which also affects comfort in the long run. The Max is also more expensive as well. If you’re OK with those things, though, it’s an excellent purchase.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Best iPhone with a big screen

An iPhone 14 standing up on a table. Behind it is a purple water bottle.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone 14

Best mid-range iPhone


  • Comfortable, high-end build
  • OLED screen looks fantastic
  • A15 chip performs great
  • Good camera upgrades
  • Dependable battery life
  • Helpful safety features


  • 60Hz display
  • No telephoto camera
  • eSIM might be a pain for some

Why you should buy this: You want extra safety features for peace of mind, and you’re upgrading from an older iPhone model or buying your first iPhone.

Who it’s for: Those who don’t mind the tried and true design of the iPhone 13, but with slightly improved cameras and extra safety features.

The iPhone 14 may not be a super exciting new upgrade for most techies (that honor goes to the iPhone 14 Pro), but for those who are coming from an older device, it’s still great. If you don’t need a 48-megapixel camera, an always-on display, and don’t care for the possibilities of the Dynamic Island, then the iPhone 14 is for you.

The iPhone 14 is actually still using the A15 Bionic from 2021, which was a slightly unusual move for Apple. However, that chip is still plenty powerful and certainly nothing to scoff at, and it’s also the slightly better version that was used in the iPhone 13 Pro. If you’re coming from anything older than the iPhone 13, the A15 will give you a noticeable bump in performance and speed for your everyday tasks.

The notch is still present on the iPhone 14, and the camera is just a slight improvement over the previous generation. There’s no always-on display, no Dynamic Island, and not even a 120Hz ProMotion display. However, you do get Apple’s newest safety features on the iPhone 14, including Emergency SOS via satellite and crash detection.

So, while the iPhone 14 is not much different from the iPhone 13 before it, if you want the new safety features for some peace of mind, then grab the iPhone 14. Plus, the price is also less than the Pro models, so you can get those features (and still a great camera) without having to cough up more dough for the Pro.

iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14

Best mid-range iPhone

apple iphone 13 review  dan baker 10
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone 13

Best value iPhone


  • Fast and responsive performance
  • Excellent camera and video capabilities
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Supports most premium features


  • Still no USB-C
  • No higher refresh rate or telephoto lens

Why you should buy this: The iPhone 13 still packs in some of the best technology Apple has to offer, all in a package that’s relatively affordable and manageable in one hand.

Who it’s for: Those who want an iPhone but don’t care as much about camera extras or add-ons.

Although it’s technically the base model in its lineup from the previous generation, there’s nothing basic about the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 is still a powerhouse, with the same A15 Bionic chip as the iPhone 14, making it just as powerful. Also, while the iPhone 13 has the same-sized display as the iPhone 14 Pro, it lacks ProMotion technology, so it won’t feel as smooth.

The dual-camera camera system on the iPhone 13 isn’t as sophisticated as the triple-lens of the Pro models, but it still takes phenomenal photos, and you’re unlikely to come away disappointed with the shots it takes.

iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13

Best value iPhone

apple iphone 13 review  dan baker 19
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Best iPhone with a small screen


  • Compact size and small display
  • Same color options as regular iPhone 13
  • Crisper resolution than iPhone 13


  • Small display might not be for everyone

Why you should buy this: It can fit in your pocket, but it’s more powerful than many modern flagship phones.

Who it’s for: Those who want a capable yet small phone that can fit in one hand.

If you’re looking for advanced iPhone technology, but you want a smaller screen size, you might want to look at the iPhone 13 Mini. The 5.4-inch display makes the phone small enough to hold in a single hand, while the screen is still large enough to view from a distance. The Mini version of the iPhone 13 comes in all of the same color options as the regular version, and with a 2340 x 1080 resolution, the Mini actually has a crisper screen than the regular iPhone 13.

The iPhone 13 Mini is a phone for those who want a powerful iPhone but don’t value screen real estate, camera advancements, or feature upgrades so much that they are willing to pay more. Plus, this is really the only option left for those who want a small iPhone.

iPhone 13 Mini

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Best iPhone with a small screen

iphone se 2022 review starlight back in hand
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Best iPhone for tight budgets


  • Compact and light
  • Very powerful
  • Touch ID works really well
  • Wireless charging
  • IP67 water resistance


  • Poor battery life
  • 60Hz screen
  • 64GB won’t be enough

Why you should buy this: If the iPhone 13 and 14 is financially out of reach, the iPhone SE (2022) is the cheapest way to buy a brand new iPhone from Apple.

Who it’s for: You want an iPhone, but you need to save some money.

Apple’s iPhone SE (2022) starts at $429, making it the cheapest brand new iPhone you can buy at the moment. Yes, it has its limitations, but for the money, it’s a great little smartphone. True, the iPhone 8 design is dated and chunky, but you get the same tough glass used on the iPhone 13 (minus Ceramic Shield). It’s also compact enough for one-handed use and a great choice for those who prefer a smaller phone.

Under the hood you get Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, the same found in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14, plus 4GB of RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of onboard storage. There’s also a bigger battery than its predecessor, so you should be good to go all day without recharging.

The 4.7-inch Liquid Retina Display boasts 1334 x 750 resolution (around 326 pixels per inch) and a 60Hz refresh rate, ensuring everything looks crisp, with True Tone technology, haptic touch, and wide color support. Yes, it’s a small screen, but it’s still impressive. You also get a single-lens 12MP camera on the rear and a 7MP selfie camera, both performing well, provided lighting conditions are good, though there’s no Night mode. You also don’t get Face ID, though the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is very reliable.

Finally, the latest iPhone SE packs 5G, making it an excellent future-proof choice. Only sub-6GHz (and C-Band) 5G are supported for now, but this is still a big upgrade over 4G in terms of speed, provided you live in an area where 5G is available.

For those who play a lot of the latest, demanding games or watch a lot of videos, the new iPhone SE (2022) might not be the right choice. It might also not be right for you if you take most of your photos after dark or in poor lighting, due to the lack of Night mode. Otherwise, if you want a powerful processor, plenty of onboard storage, and a stunning display, without breaking the bank, there’s no cheaper way to get these things than with the iPhone SE (2022).

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Best iPhone for tight budgets

Frequently Asked Questions

How much storage should I get?

A dilemma that always pops up when buying a new iPhone is deciding on what storage size to get since the iPhone does not have expandable storage. This all really depends on what you plan on using your iPhone for.

If you mostly stream music and video content, don’t take a ton of photos or videos, don’t download a lot of big files, and don’t plan on playing a lot of graphically intensive games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Diablo Immortal, then you could probably get by with the base storage. All iPhones in this guide start at 128GB of storage, except the iPhone SE, which begins at 64GB. A lot of people use cloud storage solutions to keep their data backed up, so the reliance on local storage on an iPhone is not as big of a deal as it was before.

For most people, though, 64GB, or even 128GB, just isn’t enough. Maybe you plan to use the great iPhone cameras to take a lot of photos and videos of your loved ones, or you just like taking pictures of everything. You may occasionally want to download television shows or movies to watch offline, or perhaps you want to land some headshots in Call of Duty: Mobile while waiting around somewhere. If that’s the case, then opting for 256GB or 512GB is a safe bet, and it gives you more leeway.

And for those who just take photos and videos of everything and never want to delete files off of their device, have a ton of apps and games, and want to download albums or videos for offline viewing, then 1TB is the way to go. However, if you want 1TB of storage so you never have to worry about running out of storage space again, then you’ll have to go for either the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max, as those are the only devices that offer this storage size.

Apple does have its own iCloud service for online storage, but you only get 5GB for free, which is hardly anything these days. You can get more storage, but only if you pay for it. The cheapest option is 50GB for $1 per month, or your can go to 200GB for $3 a month, or 2TB for $10 a month. iCloud storage is also included in Apple One bundles, which also encompass other Apple services like Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, though what you get depends on the tier you choose.

How long will I get updates?

All of the iPhones mentioned here include 5G connectivity, so they’re all going to be pretty future-proof, including the iPhone SE. And as far as software updates go, Apple is pretty good about making sure that you get several years of updates for your iPhone.

iOS 16 currently works on devices going back to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, which came out in 2017. That’s at least five years of updates! So if you buy one of these iPhones right now, you should be guaranteed to get support for a similar amount of time.

What if I’m switching from an Android device, or what if I want to leave the Apple ecosystem later?

If you’re coming to an iPhone from an Android phone, remember some data may not easily transfer over, and you will have to get used to a new software operating system. For example, data saved in some messaging apps (WhatsApp, for example) can be difficult to export or import, so you may start with a clean slate. While iOS is logical and easy to use, it will feel different, so expect a learning curve before it feels like home.

Finally, once you’re inside the Apple ecosystem, it can be difficult to escape. Many accessories are Apple-only, apps you purchase can’t be swapped to Android or vice versa, and if you buy an Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra — which we recommend if you want a smartwatch — then it only works with an iPhone. Provided you understand the commitment you’ll be making for the next two years minimum, an iPhone will serve you so well, that you may not want to switch to another brand at all.

Why should you trust our recommendations?

We have reviewed iPhone models since the very beginning, along with almost every major Android smartphone too. When we try out a phone we live with it every day, mostly as our only smartphone, to see how it performs the tasks we all need it to on a daily basis. This way, we get to see where it excels, and also where it may fail. Then we tell you all about it.

For that reason, we can make educated recommendations on which phones are worth it. Buying one of these is not just a lot of money, it’s committing to one phone for up to two years, should you buy it with a contract through a carrier. You need to make sure the decision is the right one, and being as informed as possible ahead of laying down your money is sensible.

We’re confident buying an iPhone is one of the best decisions you can make in the smartphone market, based on our experience, and the models above are the ones that deserve your attention.

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