There have been five new iPhones this year, joining two that will stick around. Which is the best iPhone for you in 2020?
If you’re in the market for an iPhone in 2020, you definitely have choices. While the models from the last few years are still ticking around, no fewer than five new models were introduced this year. Five.
Specifically, 2020 saw the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the iPhone SE, and those add to the other couple of models still around from 2018 and 2019, the iPhone XR and iPhone 11, respectively. Plus there are other models you can still find today from previous years, as Apple looks to push the older models aside to make way for the new ones.
The point is if you want an iPhone above all, you have choices. You simply need to work out what you’re buying for to find the 2020 iPhone for you.
Best compact iPhone
Small iPhones haven’t really been much of a thing this year, and the whole “normal” sized iPhone has changed, but in 2020, there’s a compact model you can get your hands on.
Sized for hands and pockets, there are two choices this year, but one is a better phone than the other.
Apple iPhone 12 Mini
The least expensive of the iPhone 12 range, the iPhone 12 Mini is also the most normal-sized iPhone of the lot, effectively bringing all the power of the standard iPhone 12, but in a design that feels like it was built both for hands and pockets.
Remarkably, the iPhone 12 Mini is even smaller than Apple’s other normal sized phone, the iPhone SE.
Apple iPhone SE
Essentially an iPhone 8 with the heart of a newer model iPhone, up until the iPhone 12 Mini rocked up, the iPhone SE was the most compact of the iPhone range.
Relatively speaking, the iPhone SE is still quite compact, and comparing the two might leave you wondering which is smaller. The answer is the 12 Mini, but not by much, making the iPhone SE quite compact and hand-friendly, too.
Best iPhone on a budget
If compact isn’t the problem, but a budget is, consider opting for an iPhone that won’t break the bank too much.
Apple iPhone 8
Price: from $379
A little old, but definitely still good, the iPhone 8 is still ticking along, even though we reviewed it back in 2017.
It’s very similar to this year’s iPhone SE in design, though that’s where the similarities stop, supporting wireless charging, water resistance, and that fingerprint-based Touch ID folks still like, but available for under the $500 mark if you don’t mind picking up a refurb from somewhere like Boost.
Best value iPhone
Budget is different from value, and the two can mean totally distinct things. If you can find a refurb iPhone model, that might make good sense for a budget iPhone. Alternatively, if you’re after something brand new, there are two recent models that handle better for the value argument.
Apple iPhone SE
That starts with the 2020 iPhone SE, which at a little under $800 really makes a play for value, and is easily Apple’s best value iPhone, hands down.
Made from the design of the iPhone 8, featuring the iPhone XR camera, and then the processor and performance of the iPhone 11, the 2020 iPhone SE is a value-driven iPhone to be reckoned with, and about as close as Apple gets to making a mid-range iPhone.
Apple iPhone XR
Priced a little higher, the 2018 iPhone XR is still a pretty solid phone, even though it only has one camera. Think of this as the full-screen iPhone SE, but with a bigger screen, bigger battery, and marginally more camera chops for the front-facing camera, thanks in part to that Face ID system to unlock the phone.
While it’s a couple of years old now, the iPhone XR has dropped in price since we reviewed it, and now makes for an even more compelling deal for folks who want an iPhone driven by value more than anything else.
Best all-rounder iPhone
Not quite sure what you need, but want an iPhone that rounds out the bunch? This assortment should be good for you.
Apple iPhone 11
Last year’s iPhone for everyone isn’t dramatically different from this year’s, save for a slight changing in camera, screen technology, and having no 5G.
If neither of those bother you, the iPhone 11 is a nice looking phone with a lot of power and some decent camera chops, available for a little under $1000.
Apple iPhone 12
But if you prefer a little more power, a nicer screen, a better camera, plus support for 5G, the iPhone 12 is where you want to be.
Starting from just under $1350, the iPhone 12 is pretty much the bigger equivalent of the iPhone 12 Mini, except clearly not mini.
Best battery iPhone
Thinking of talking up a storm or talking lots of photos? You may want to look at one of the older iPhones, or spend up on the biggest and best iPhone of 2020, the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Apple iPhone XR
Apple’s 2018 iPhone XR surprised us for its battery capability, and that makes it one of the more impressive iPhone models that can survive over a day if you let it, something Apple’s phones aren’t quite known for.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Of course, the best iPhone battery goes to the biggest of the lot, and you’ll find it in the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Sporting a 6.7 inch screen and a big battery behind it, this isn’t a small phone by any stretch of the imagination, but if you want an iPhone with battery life to spare, this might well be it.
Best camera iPhone
We did this test very recently, and found the answer unsurprising, but maybe not for the reasons you expect. The “Pro” range delivers in the iPhone 12, something we definitely expected, but it also managed to beat Android phones, too, basically making the best camera iPhone among the best phone cameras of 2020 overall.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple’s 6.1 inch iPhone 12 is a serious player for camera phone strength, delivering three cameras — ultra-wide, standard wide, and close — and supporting ProRAW, as well.
It’s fast, sharp, and a great camera in a more normal-sized body, making the iPhone 12 Pro a great option if you’re after the iPhone 12 with a better camera.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
However the best iPhone camera goes to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is totally different this year. In the iPhone 12 Pro Max, you’ll find the same three camera designs, but with the telephoto gets a little closer, and the sensor sizes are bigger, too.
Plus Apple has added support for a low-light improving technology: sensor-shift stabilisation, something no other iPhone has in 2020, making the iPhone 12 Pro Max just that much better as a phone camera than its 12 Pro sibling.