Top 10 iPhones in 2018, Which One Would You Buy?

Published December 31st, 2018 - 09:02 GMT
Three new iPhones launched in 2018. Here are the top 10 you can buy today. (Shutterstock)
Three new iPhones launched in 2018. Here are the top 10 you can buy today. (Shutterstock)

The best iPhone got more complicated in 2018, with Apple launching three new choices in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. 

We've ranked these three new iPhones, as well as the older handsets, so you can find the best iPhone for you.

Our recommendations include the top 10 iPhones you can buy, because buying the newest might not be your best option if you want a cheap iPhone. 

For example, 2017's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are still great choices, and you'll find the iPhone X on sale in certain places for a cheap price – even if it's no longer at the Apple Store.

Good news, the top 10 iPhones we recommend run iOS 12, Apple's latest update for its devices. It's therefore a bit different from our prestigious best phones list and the best Android phones list. Apple's prices vary wildly, all of them are an investment.

Our top iPhone list highlights the different specs, screen sizes, and price points. Each of these handsets has something to offer every type of Apple fan – so we've boiled down the choices for you in a simple-to-read format.

The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy

Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 1242 x 2688 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 3,179mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Great big screen for games and movies
+Camera is strong for an iPhone
-Price: most expensive iPhone ever
-Size can make it tricky to handle

The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy right now. It's Apple's biggest and best iPhone – if you're hands and wallets and large enough. It has an expansive 6.5-inch OLED screen with HDR10 support to make colors pop. It's the perfect phone if you want a giant screen.

Behind that huge screen is an improved dual-lens 12MP camera. Apple outfitted it with Smart HDR and increased the sensor size to capture larger pixels. Don't let that static 12MP number fool you. The iPhone XS Max (like the XS) has new depth-sensing capabilities for adjustable bokeh (background blur) during and after a shot.

The TrueDepth camera returns with faster Face ID recognition, and your 7MP selfies get better depth control and Smart HDR, too. And, of course, Animoji returns with the iOS 12 benefit of having Memoji now. 

The iPhone XS Max is more expensive than the iPhone X and iPhone XS that replaces the X, of course. But if you're paying for it over the course of two years in a contract (or through the Apple Upgrade Program), it's not that much more month-to-month.

The best iPhone for those looking for something more compact

Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125 x 2436 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 2,659mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Smart HDR helps the camera
+Faster operation in one hand vs Max
-Battery life not world-beating
-Still very expensive

Believe it or not, the iPhone XS is Apple's best 'small' phone. It has a 5.8-inch screen, so it's more one-hand-friendly than the Max, but still a sizable upgrade for some people. 

It's an upgrade over last year's iPhone X, our previous best iPhone recommendation, though you'll have to look more closely for the changes – the design isn't different at all. It has a Smart HDR-capable 12MP camera, enhanced TrueDepth front-facing camera, and a fast A12 Bionic chipset, exactly like the larger iPhone XS Max.

In fact, this all-screen phone is pretty much the iPhone XS Max in last year's smaller form factor. It does have a smaller battery than the Max and obviously a smaller screen, but you will still capture the same great photos and videos on this device and play the same games. There's no different there. 

The best iPhone for those looking for great battery life

Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1792 x 828 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128256GB | Battery: 2,942mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Great battery life for an iPhone
+Lower price tag and fun colors
-Some apps still not fully optimized
-Lower-res screen

The iPhone XR is a great upgrade for the average consumer who doesn't want to pay for the most expensive iPhone money (a lot of money) can buy. This is Apple's cheap iPhone for 2018, at least when it comes to recently launched handsets. It's also the best iPhone of the new trio for battery life.

It stands out with a variety of iPhone XR colors: Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, Red. This contrasts heavily with the rather muted colors of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Yet it shares the same internal specs: Apple's fast A12 Bionic chipset and a 12MP dual-lens camera with a single lens on back. 

You don't get the dual-lens camera like you do on a higher-tier iPhone, so you miss out on telephoto shots. But Smart HDR is the real perk to taking great photos, and that's here.

It's cheaper, it's more colorful and it has a big 6.1-inch screen. That's enough for most people, especially those who aren't insistent on an impressive OLED screen.

The iPhone that changed the range

Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125 x 2436 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2,716mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Brilliant screen
+Powerful innards
-Smart TrueDepth camera
-Incredibly expensive
 

The iPhone X is as impressive as it is expensive, but if you really want the best iPhone today and don't want to wait for the iPhone XI, this is the one to get today. Millions of Apple fans already have since it launched almost seven months ago. It's the future of Apple's smartphone.

It has a large all-screen display, except for a notch cutout at the top that houses a new TrueDepth Camera. This takes selfies to another level and can also map your face to an iPhone X-exclusive Animoji. If you don't know what that is by now you probably won't care.

The iPhone X is Apple's 10th anniversary smartphone and has just about everything iPhone users have been asking for, from a more forward-leaning design to faster specs and new features. You'll just have to get used to Face ID instead of reaching for that non-existent fingerprint sensor.

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A more affordable, big screen iPhone

Weight: 202g | Dimensions: 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2,691mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Wireless charging
+Longer battery life
-Dated design
-Expensive

The iPhone 8 Plus is the best iPhone if you're not willing to take the plunge into Apple's proposed smartphone future and need that Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It remains popular due to its screen size, cheaper price and physical home button.

It does have several key features you'll like, however. It's among the first iPhones to have both wireless charging and fast charging, and the camera has improved. Its dual-lens camera doesn't have OIS in the telephoto lens (a feature saved for the X), but it's still a great way to snap a photo at long distances.

It won't turn nearly as many heads with its bezel-heavy design, but the iPhone 8 Plus is the iPhone built for big hands and slightly smaller wallets than the new iPhone X.

The newest 4.7-inch iPhone is a phone lots of people still want

Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Wireless charging is useful
+Camera is great at point-and-shoot
-Limited upgrade over iPhone 7
-Bezel-heavy design looks dated

This is actually the best-selling iPhone from Apple, and for several good reasons. First, we get it, you refuse to budge from the 4.7-inch iPhone screen size and, frankly, we don't blame you. Every time we go back to this iPhone with 'normal' dimensions, we feel like we just went on a smartphone vacation. Second, its price is way more reasonable for a lot a folks than the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus.

Just because the size is the same as iPhones of old, doesn't mean the technology behind it is, though. The iPhone 8 features the same A11 Bionic chipset as the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, and it too debuted wireless charging and fast charging on an Apple smartphone.

The camera is still fantastic, even if it doesn't have the dual-lens capabilities that are exclusive to the X and Plus, and you'll dig iOS 11 at this size more so than the even smaller iPhone SE.

2016's best iPhone, for a lower price

Weight: 188g | Dimensions: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: 2,900mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Heaps of power for slick performance
+Excellent camera
-Very expensive
-No headphone jack

Back in 2016 the iPhone 7 Plus was the best phone Apple had ever made, and it remains a winner for its longevity and price. It's larger than the iPhone X though despite its smaller display, so if you're after a smaller phone with a bigger screen, this won't be the best choice for you with its 5.5-inch 1080p display.

The big upgrades over older iPhones are the waterproof design and a new dual-lens camera that allows you to snap with two 12MP lenses at the same time. It allows for better optical zoom as well as a bokeh mode to blur the background of your photos and put the main focus on the foreground.

Battery life on the iPhone 7 Plus is much improved upon the iPhone 6S Plus, and while it's still a costly option it's much cheaper than it was at launch, making it one of the best iPhone choices in 2018 for people looking for a deal.

Compact, relatively affordable and still quite powerful

Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.0-inch | Resolution: 1136 x 640 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64GB | Battery: 1,624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

+Great power
+Lower price
-Tired design
-Old screen technology

Despite the iPhone SE's small size and relatively modest price tag, it's still an upper mid-range phone. It has the same boxy yet premium design as the metal-clad iPhone 5S and the same powerful Apple A9 chipset and rear camera as the iPhone 6S.

It lacks the 3D Touch features and higher-resolution front-facing camera of the iPhone 6S and beyond. The screen is also less impressive all round, thanks in large part to a lower contrast ratio. But it compares well to many mid-range handsets.

It's also the most powerful 4-inch iPhone you can get, so for fans of compact form factors this is an obvious choice. But the best bit is its price, as it's one of the cheapest iPhones you'll find on the market and it's something of a bargain by Apple standards.

The first water-resistant iPhone

Weight: 138g | Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: Apple A10 Fusion | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: 1,960mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

+Good low light camera
+Water resistant
-Lacks clear upgrades
-Same design for last three years

Don't fancy the large iPhone 7 Plus above? Why not opt for the iPhone 7, which is a smaller and cheaper alternative.

This was one of the first iPhones to lack a headphone jack, but it does come with a water-resistant design that means your phone is likely to survive the odd dip in the sink rather than just being frazzled right away.

There's no dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7, but you can still take some absolutely incredible photography with the 12MP sensor.

If you own an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S, you may not see much difference with the this phone but the newer processor and camera tech may be enough to entice you to buy it if you can't stomach the high price of the iPhone 8.

The best iPhone from 2015

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 1,715mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

+Great design
+3D Touch impresses
-Battery life low
-Price high for a low-res screen

The iPhone 6S, as you probably know, is Apple's flagship from 2015. The Apple A9 chipset and a chunky 2GB of RAM, up from 1GB on the previous model, make it far superior in raw power to 2014's model and still reasonably speedy by 2018's standards, and it's got some other tricks too.

It has a 12MP rear camera and a tried-and-tested 8MP front-facing camera, which at the time was the best selfie shooter Apple had on a phone.

It does sport largely the same design and screen as the iPhone 6 though and the latter in particular is starting to feel a bit dated in the face of super sharp QHD screens from rivals - and from the newer iPhone X.

This was the first iPhone to sport 3D Touch though, which makes the screen pressure-sensitive and offers new tricks for enhanced emailing and shortcuts around the home screen.

By Matt Swider, John McCann


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