How to Pick the Best iPhone for You

Figuring out which is the best iPhone for you can be complicated.

Buying a new iPhone means choosing from seven models (iPhone XS and XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, 7 and 7 Plus), multiple storage capacities, different features, and very different prices. You need to know if you want to use Face ID or whether all you care about is Animojis. Maybe the most important thing to you getting the biggest screen possible or the best camera. There's a lot to figure out!

Person choosing from several Apple iPhone versions
Lifewire / Emilie Dunphy

If you're planning to buy a new iPhone, you need to figure out what matters to you and what doesn't. Here is some information about each model that makes picking the best iPhone for you a little easier.

Not sure which phone company is best for you? Check our article on Which Phone Company Is Best for iPhone.

iPhone XS and XS Max

iPhone XS and XS Max
The iPhone XS Max offers the largest screen ever on an iPhone. Apple Inc.

Why They Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • The bleeding edge: If having the coolest, most cutting-edge technology matters to you, the iPhone XS series is your only choice. It's the only current iPhone that offers an edge-to-edge OLED screen, an HDR screen, IP68 waterproofing, and a top-of-the-line camera.
  • The biggest and the best: The iPhone XS is the top of the line model. It's got the largest screen — 5.8 inches on the XS, 6.5 inches on the XS Max — which makes for terrific gaming and multimedia. 
  • The best screen: Only the iPhone XS has an edge-to-edge screen that covers the full face of the phone, uses superior OLED technology, and delivers highly detailed, vibrantly colorful HDR images. The iPhone XR's screen is edge-to-edge, but doesn't offer the other features.
  • Terrific camera: The user-facing camera on the XS series and the XR may be the same, but the back cameras are pretty different. While both models offer 12-megapixel resolution, only the XS and XS Max sport both wide-angle and telephoto lenses, optical zoom and optical image stabilization, and up to 10x digital zoom. They also have two Portrait Lighting options that the XR doesn't.
  • Face ID: The iPhone XS and XR replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner for unlocking the iPhone and confirming Apple Pay transactions with the Face ID facial recognition system.
  • Wireless Charging: Along with both iPhone 8 models and the XR, the XS series sports wireless charging using the Qi standard. Forget plugging in your iPhone; just place it on a charging mat to power the battery.
  • Most storage: Only the iPhone XS and XS Max offer up to 512 GB of storage. The most any other model offers is 256 GB.
  • 3D Touch screen: The screen on the XS series detects how hard you're pushing on it and respond in different ways to different kinds of touch. This enables eye-catching features like Live Photos, among other things. The XR lacks 3D Touch.
  • NFC & Apple Pay: The XS series includes support for NFC (Near-Field Communication), the wireless standard that is used for transactions with Apple Pay.
  • Newer processors: The latest, fastest chips show up in the iPhone XS. The A12 Bionic chip offers notably faster performance than the chip in the previous-generation iPhone X.
  • Apple Watch and AirPods compatible: Every phone on this list works with all generations of the Apple Watch and Apple's wireless AirPods earbuds.
  • Size: Despite having a screen that's more than an inch bigger than the screen on the iPhone 8, the iPhone XS is only 0.2 inches taller and 0.14 inches wider.

Cons

  • Premium price: All these amazing features don't come cheap. The iPhone XS series are the most expensive iPhones ever, starting at US$999 for the 64 GB iPhone XS and topping out at $1,449 for the 512 GB iPhone XS Max.

 

iPhone XR

The iPhone XR
The iPhone XR offers compelling features at a lower price than the XS. Apple Inc.

Why It Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • Big, bright screen: While the iPhone XR doesn't have the XS's True Tone, OLED screen, its screen is still terrific. The XR's 6.1-inch, edge-to-edge LCD is plenty big and looks great.
  • Battery life: The battery on the XR outperforms the XS's battery by a few hours. Some users even get better performance out of it than the XS Max. If you want an iPhone that can run for a long time without a charge, the XR is it.
  • Attractive price: The XR offers the majority of the XS's features for a much cheaper price. You can get an XR that's nearly as good as the XS starting at just $749. 
  • Great cameras: The only major differences between the cameras on the XR and XS are the telephoto and wide angle lenses and image stabilization and zoom. These features are really only necessary for serious photographers. For the average person, the XR's camera will be the best camera of any kind they've ever owned.
  • Most key iPhone XS features: In many ways, the XR is very similar to the XS. It sports the same processor, the same Face ID, the same wireless charging options, and other features. Unless you absolutely need the very top of the line features, the XR delivers most of what makes the XS great, but at a lower price.

Cons

  • LCD screen: The LCD screen used on the XR isn't quite as good as the OLED on the XS series. The technology used in this screen has a lower color range and accuracy, and isn't quite as bright. The average user may not really notice the difference, though. 
  • Lower maximum storage: The XR's storage maxes out at 256 GB, while the XS goes up to 512 GB. So, if you need a tremendous amount of storage on your phone, you may encounter some limits with the XR.
  • Heavier: The body of the XR is made from different materials than the XS, so it's a bit heavier. The XR weighs 6.84 ounces, while the XS tilts the scales at 6.24 ounces. The larger XS Max is even heavier, at 7.34 ounces.
  • Lesser waterproofing: The waterproofing features of the XR are slightly less effective than on the XS. While the XS can survive 30 minutes in water up to 2 meters deep, the XR can only last 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. 

 

iPhone 8 Plus

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
image credit: Apple Inc.

Why It Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • Pretty close to the iPhone XR: The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone XR are similar in many important ways. Many things in the list above applies to both the XR and the 8 Plus. See the cons section below for the few things that don't.
  • Touch ID: Apple's 2nd generation fingerprint scanning technology is built into the 8 series, so entering passwords and making purchases is as simple as pressing your phone's Home button.
  • Less expensive: Buying an iPhone 8 Plus is easier on your wallet. The introductory 64 GB model costs $699, $50 less than the equivalent iPhone XR. That's not a big savings, but the $300 difference when compared to the XS is substantial.  

Cons

  • No Face ID: The iPhone 8 series uses Touch ID, rather than Face ID. You can't get facial recognition and everything that goes along with it (including Animojis) on the 8 Plus. 
  • Lesser screen: While the 8 Plus's Retina Display screen is amazing, it's not as good as the screen on the XS. It doesn't use OLED, isn't edge to edge, and doesn't support HDR. The 8 Plus also has a 5.5-inch screen, compared to the 5.8-inch screen on the XS, the 6.1-inch screen on the XR, and 6.5-inch screen on the XS Max.
  • Larger and heavier: The 8 Plus is about a half inch taller and an ounce heavier than the XS. That may not sound like much, but it can change how the phone feels in your hand or pocket.

 

iPhone 8

iPhone 8 and wireless charging
The iPhone 8 with Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat. image credit: Apple Inc.

Why It Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • Nearly identical features to the 8 Plus: Almost every feature of the 8 Plus is also present on the 8 (the ones that aren't are in the cons below). The two phones are identical when it comes to storage options, processors, wireless charging, 3D Touch, Touch ID, NFC and Apple Pay support, and Apple Watch compatibility. 
  • Good screen: The iPhone 8 offers a 4.7-inch screen. While that's not as huge as the 8 Plus's, and much smaller than the XS or XR, it's a good size for many users.
  • Best Value: Each model of the iPhone 8 costs less than the equivalent iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone XS/XR.

Cons

  • No cutting-edge features:You won't find Face ID or the OLED/HDR/edge-to-edge screen on the 8. The 8 also lacks some of the advanced photo features of the 8 Plus and XS/XR, such as Portrait Mode. 
  • Smaller screen: The iPhone 8's screen is about three-quarters of an inch smaller than the 8 Plus's, more than an inch smaller than the XS, and nearly two inches smaller than the XS Max. If you need the biggest screen possible, check out the other models.
  • Lesser camera: The camera on the 8 doesn't include the wide angle, telephoto, and high-end depth-of-field effects. Photos in some circumstances may not be as nice as those taken with the XS or XR.
  • More expensive than 7: With its better features, the iPhone 8 is more expensive than the earlier models. 

 

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus dual camera
image credit: Apple Inc.

Why It Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • A good, but older, phone: This was Apple's top-of-the-line iPhone for part of 2016 and most of 2017. Nothing that made it a great phone then — its screen and camera, its speed and compatibility with the full line of Apple accessories — has changed. 
  • Cheaper than the 8 Plus: Since the 7 Plus has been replaced by the XS/XR and the 8 series, it's got a more attractive price. The 7 Plus starts at $130 less than the 8 Plus.

Cons

  • No wireless charging: Unlike the phones in the list above it, the 7 Plus doesn't support wireless charging.
  • Slower processor: The processor in this model is fast, but the chips in the 8 and XS/XR series are much faster.
  • Lesser camera: The camera in the 7 Plus is good, but the 8 and XS/XR series offer better ones. If taking the best possible photos is important to you, consider the newer models.
  • Lower storage capacity: The 7 Plus's storage maxes out at 128 GB, compared to the 256 GB limit for the XR and 8, and 512 GB for the XS. Even at the low end, the 7 Plus only offers 32 GB of storage, compared to 64 GB for the other models. 

 

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 in rose gold
Apple Inc.

Why It Might Be the Best iPhone For You:

  • A very solid phone: While it's a few years away from being top-of-the-line, the iPhone 7 is still a solid phone with strong features and performance. If you want a combination of solid phone and lower price, the 7 is a good option.
  • Support for key Apple technologies: You'll get most key Apple technologies with the 7, including Apple Pay, Touch ID, the Apple Watch, 3D Touch, Retina Display, among others.
  • Great phone, great price: The iPhone 7 offers almost all of the 7 Plus' strengths, but at a lower price. The introductory level model of the iPhone 7 starts at just $449.
  • Manageable size: If you want the strengths of the 7 Plus in a smaller-size device, the 7's 4.7-inch screen easily fits in your hand or pocket.

Cons

  • All of the 7 Plus's weaknesses: Since the 7 and 7 Plus share most of the same hardware and features, all of the 7 Plus' weaknesses when compared to the 8 and the XS apply here, too.
  • Even lesser camera: The 7 has a lesser camera than the 7 Plus. It doesn't support the special Portrait Modes and other features. 
  • Three years behind: It's now three years since the 7 series was brand new. Even if you don't want the latest and greatest, the 7 is starting to look a little long in the tooth.
  • Lower storage capacity: The 7 maxes out at 128 GB.
  • Slower processors: The 7 series is built around the A10 processor and M10 motion coprocessor, two generations behind the chips used in the XS/XR and 8 series.
  • Lesser camera features: While the 7 has a good camera, it lacks the wide angle, telephoto, and depth-of-field features of the 7 Plus, to say nothing of the XS/XR or 8.

 

Deciding on Your Best iPhone

The general rule when making a technology purchase is to buy the best device that you can afford. That's true when it comes to deciding which iPhone to buy.

If you can afford the iPhone XS or XR, get it. It will last the longest, offer the best performance and features, and will hold its value longest if you want to resell it. If you're more price conscious, the iPhone 8 series will serve you well, too. Only look to the 7 series if the cost of the phone is a major consideration.

For a quick comparison of how all current models stack up in terms of features and price, check out this chart.

Current iPhone Models Compared

 

iPhone XR

64 GB
128 GB
256 GB

iPhone XS
& XS
Max

64 GB
256 GB
512 GB

iPhone 8
& 8 Plus

64 GB
256 GB

iPhone 7
& 7 Plus

32 GB
128 GB

Songs Held 16,000/
32,000/
64,000
16,000/
64,000/
128,000
16,000/
64,000
8,000/
32,000
Screen Size* 6.1

5.8

6.5

4.7

5.5

4.7

5.5

Resolution 1792x828

2436x1125

2688x1242

1334x750

1920x1080

1334x750

1920x1080

Edge-to-Edge Screen Yes Yes No No
OLED Screen No Yes No No
HDR Screen Yes Yes No No
3D Touch No Yes Yes Yes
Processor A12 Bionic A12 Bionic A11 Bionic A10
Networks Wi-Fi w/ MIMO,
LTE Advanced,
UMTS/
HSPA+/
DC-HSDPA/
3G,
GSM,
CDMA,
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi w/ MIMO,
Gigabit class
LTE,
UMTS/
HSPA+/
DC-HSDPA/
3G,
GSM,
CDMA,
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi w/ MIMO,
LTE Advanced,
UMTS/
HSPA+/
DC-HSDPA/
3G,
GSM,
CDMA,
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi w/ MIMO,
LTE Advanced,
UMTS/
HSDPA/
HSUPA/
3G,
GSM,
CDMA,
Bluetooth 4.2
Carrier AT&T,
Sprint,
T-Mobile,
Verizon
AT&T,
Sprint,
T-Mobile,
Verizon
AT&T,
Sprint,
T-Mobile,
Verizon
AT&T,
Sprint,
T-Mobile,
Verizon

Support
Yes Yes No No
A-GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max. OS iOS 12 iOS 12 iOS 12 iOS 12
Camera**

2
cameras:
12 & 7

2
cameras:
12 (dual lens)
& 7
2
cameras:
12 & 7
2
cameras:
12 & 7
Wide-angle &
Telephoto
No Yes

Telephoto

Both

Telephoto

Both

Records
Video
4K HD
at 30 and 60 fps
1080p
at 120 & 240 fps
4K HD
at 30 and 60 fps
1080p
at 120 & 240 fps
4K HD
at 30 & 60 fps
1080p
at 120 & 240 fps
4K HD
at 30 fps
Live Photo Yes Yes Yes Yes
Portrait Mode Both cameras Both cameras Both cameras

No

Back camera

FaceTime Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touch ID No No 2nd Gen. 2nd Gen.
Face ID Yes Yes No No
NFC Yes Yes Yes Yes
Siri Yes Yes Yes Yes
Water & Dust
Resistant
IP67 rated IP68 rated IP67 rated IP67 rated
Headphone
Jack
No No No No
Weight
(ounces)
6.84

6.24

7.34

5.22

7.13

4.87

6.63

Size
(inches)
5.94
x 2.98
x 0.33

5.65
x 2.79
x 0.30

6.20
x 3.05
x 0.30

5.45
x 2.64
x 0.29

6.24
x 3.07
x 0.30

5.44
x 2.64
x 0.28

6.23
x 3.07
x 0.29

Wireless
Charging
Yes Yes Yes No
Battery Life
(in
hours)

Talk: 25
Internet: 15
Video: 16
Audio: 65

Talk: 20
Internet: 12
Video: 14
Audio: 60

Talk: 25
Internet: 13
Video: 15
Audio: 65

Talk: 14
Video: 13
Web: 12
Audio: 40

Talk: 21
Video: 14
Web: 13
Audio: 60

Talk: 14
Video: 13
Web: 13
Audio: 40

Talk: 21
Video: 14
Web: 15
Audio: 60

Colors Blue
White
Black
Yellow
Coral
Red
Silver
Space Gray
Gold
Gold
Silver
Space Gray
Black,
Jet Black,
Silver,
Gold,
Rose Gold,
Red
Price US$749 - $899

$999 - $1349

$1099 - $1449

$599 - $749

$699 - $849

$449 - $549

$569 - $669

* in megapixels

** in inches