Your guide

iphone 11 display - iphone buying guide

We don’t want to admit it, but here goes: the Apple iPhone is a good smartphone. It’s even a great one, so long as you’re comfortable with iOS and aren’t overly attached to Android.

The iPhone is also a very popular smartphone, particularly in the U.S. According to research firm Counterpoint, Apple accounted for 41 percent of smartphone shipments during Q1 2019. Apple’s market share has fluctuated during the last year, but it’s held at least 37 percent of the U.S. smartphone market since Q1 2018.

Here’s what we have so far: the iPhone is a great smartphone and people you know like walk around with one in their pockets. Say you want to join them and buy Apple’s smartphone sometime soon. Let’s make your buying decision a bit easier with our iPhone buying guide.

The best iPhones:

  1. Apple iPhone 11
  2. Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
  3. Apple iPhone XR
  4. Apple iPhone 8

Editor’s note: We will update our iPhone buying guide as new iPhones launch.


1. Apple iPhone 11: The best for most people

iphone 11 rear - iphone buying guide

As good as the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are, their high-end features come with equally high-end price tags. If you want a relatively-affordable iPhone and don’t care much for things like display resolution and triple camera systems, the Apple iPhone 11 is your pick.

Apple still sells the iPhone XR for $599, but the iPhone 11 gets you so much more for an extra $100. There’s a rear dual camera system, the A13 Bionic, a slightly larger 3,110mAh battery, and more-sophisticated color choices.

Also read: Apple iPhone 11 vs the Android competition

The iPhone 11’s Super Retina LCD display is a step-down from the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max’s OLED displays in resolution and vibrancy. That said, you don’t notice the differences quite as much in the real world.

Best of all, the iPhone 11 starts at $699. That’s significantly less than the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max’s starting prices.

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Apple iPhone 11 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, 1,792 x 828 LCD
  • Chipset: A13 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Rear cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,110mAh
  • Software: iOS 13


2. Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max: Money is no object

iPhone 11 Pro Max Rear in Hand - iphone buying guide

If you want an uncompromising iPhone experience and have deep pockets, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are currently your best choices.

The stainless steel frame is sandwiched between two glass panels, with Apple giving the rear panel a soft matte finish. Also around back is a triple camera system, a first for iPhones. The triple camera system comprises of three 12MP sensors with wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto focal lengths.

Also read: I spent the week with the iPhone 11 Pro Max: Here are my thoughts

The iPhone 11 Pro is the smaller of the two and features a 5.8-inch display. The iPhone 11 Pro Max features a bigger 6.5-inch display. Apple markets the two displays as Super Retina XDR OLED displays. The name is very clunky, but the two Super Retina XDA displays are among the best smartphone displays we’ve seen.

That’s before we get to the A13 Bionic, a beast of a processor that helped the iPhone 11 Pro Max outperform the competition in our review. Also taking into account the excellent camera output, reassuring heft, long-lasting battery, and smooth iOS 13 operation, and you have the two best iPhones you can get.

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max start at $999 and $1,099, respectively.

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Apple iPhone 11 Pro specs:

  • Display: 5.8-inch, 2,436 x 1,125 AMOLED
  • Chipset: A13 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/256/512GB
  • Rear cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,046mAh
  • Software: iOS 13


Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 2,688 x 1,242 AMOLED
  • Chipset: A13 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/256/512GB
  • Rear cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,969mAh
  • Software: iOS 13


3. Apple iPhone XR: Cheapest entry into modern iPhones

Apple iPhone XR official render - iphone buying guide

The iPhone 11’s $699 price tag makes it the best entry point for the new iPhones, but say you’re okay with something slightly older. Say you want an iPhone with a modern design and a lower price tag. Say hello to the Apple iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR’s specs are predictably a few steps behind those of the iPhone 11, but it’s not a huge gap. You still have the powerful A12 Bionic processor, a 6.1-inch LCD display, a 2,942mAh battery that lasts all day and then some, a rear 12MP camera capable of nice shots, and several years of updates.

Also read: The one thing Android OEMs can learn from the iPhone XR

Something to consider is the single rear camera, which doesn’t offer as much versatility as the iPhone 11’s dual camera system. Also, the 3GB of RAM don’t offer as much future-proofing as the 4GB of RAM in the newer iPhones.

That said, you can get the iPhone XR with 128GB of storage for the same price as the base iPhone 11 with 64GB. If you don’t need that much storage, the iPhone XR starts at $599 for 64GB.

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Apple iPhone XR specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, 1,792 x 828 LCD
  • Chipset: A12 Bionic
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 7MP
  • Battery: 2,942mAh
  • Software: iOS 13


4. Apple iPhone 8: For the frugal

Apple iPhone 8 press render - iphone buying guide

If you’re someone who just wants an iPhone and can’t stretch their wallets too much, the Apple iPhone 8 remains a solid choice.

Because of how old it is, you’ll have to consider more with the iPhone 8 than with other iPhones. The bezels are chunkier than those of newer iPhones, while the A11 Bionic is now two generations old. Also, the 4.7-inch display might be too small for those with larger hands and the 1,821mAh battery is laughably small for today’s standards.

Also read: Best iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus cases

Even with the aforementioned concessions, the iPhone 8 remains a great performer with a high-end metal and glass build. You still get stereo speakers, wireless charging, and software updates for at least a few more years.

The iPhone 8 starts at $449. We’d advise against buying the iPhone 8 Plus, since it’s only $50 less than the iPhone XR.

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Apple iPhone 8 specs:

  • Display: 4.7-inch, 1,334 x 750 LCD
  • Chipset: A11 Bionic
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 7MP
  • Battery: 1,821mAh
  • Software: iOS 13


That’s it for our iPhone buying guide. For more on Apple, check out the widget.

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