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Best iPhone in 2023


Best iPhone in 2023: Which Apple Phone Should You Buy?







Apple currently sells eight iPhone models, including one that dates back to 2020. Compare that to 2007 when Steve Jobs launched the original iPhone and the only option was getting 4GB or 8GB of storage. While there's no such thing as a true "best" iPhone, depending on your needs, budget and preferences, some models will be better for you than others. With the addition of nullthe iPhone 14 series and the iPhone 11, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max being discontinued, deciding on the right one can be confusing.



In terms of prices, the current iPhone lineup starts as low as $429 for the 2022 iPhone SE and tops off at $1,599 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a whopping 1TB of storage. Below are the various models, their release date, the number of rear cameras they have, their processor and their current list price, which for some phones includes a $30 activation fee that's waived if you activate your iPhone on a carrier at the time of purchase. And if you're looking for the best iPhone deals, we have you covered there too. 

Whether it's the tiny iPhone 13 Mini and its 5.4-inch screen or the 2020 iPhone 12, you actually have a lot of options to choose from for your perfect phone. Navigating Apple's iPhone spectrum can be overwhelming, whether you're considering colors (the iPhone 13 comes in six), or features like the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island, which expands and contracts to show system alerts.

Then there are the cameras. The iPhone typically has some of the best cameras found on any phone. But the iPhone SE has just one on the back. The 12, 13, 13 Mini, 14 and 14 Plus each have dual-rear cameras. And then there's the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max that not only have a trio of cameras but come with features like the ability to take ProRaw photos or record ProRes videos.

Read moreBest Wireless Earbuds for 2023: Top Options at Every Price

To further complicate things, carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon as well as third parties like Best Buy and Amazon continue to sell discontinued models such as the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. And then there are the prices. Apple's starting price for each model isn't necessarily what you'll pay. Nearly all of the phones on this list can be bought for significantly less with a mixture of trade-ins and/or service commitments with most US wireless carriers.

I know, it's a lot. But I've tested all eight versions of the iPhone and can help you navigate through all the noise.

The absolute best iPhone is the $999 iPhone 14 Pro. It has all of Apple's newest features, including an A16 Bionic chip, upgraded main camera, the Dynamic Island, as well as tools like Car Crash Detection and SOS via Satellite. Not everyone looking to buy a phone from Apple needs the 14 Pro, but if you want the best get the iPhone 14 Pro. Want something bigger? Get the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which is the regular 14 Pro in a bigger body.

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iPhone 14 stands on a blue surface with a red background

When I reviewed the iPhone 14, I said it was essentially the iPhone 13 Pro's processor and main camera inside the body of an iPhone 13. No doubt, some will be disappointed that the iPhone 14 isn't radically different from previous models. But that's part of its charm. Familiarity has been one of the keys to Apple's success with the iPhone. And as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The iPhone 14's best features are ones you may never see or use -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. That includes Crash Detection, which can notify emergency services when you're in an automobile accident. Emergency SOS via Satellite lets you use a satellite to message emergency dispatchers in places without cell coverage.

And while the iPhone 14 has a nearly identical flat-sided design as the iPhone 12 and 13, including a ceramic shield covering and a water resistant body, the inside has been completely redesigned. The 14's back-glass is easier and more affordable to repair since it's no longer attached to internals.

All phones in the iPhone 14 series only use eSIMs in the US and have a new selfie camera that for the first time ever has autofocus. Add in a new video stabilization tool called Action mode, an upgraded Cinematic mode that can capture 4K video at 24fps and iOS 16, and you have an excellent phone. If you activate it on a carrier, Apple drops the price to $799. Read our Apple iPhone 14 review.

$800 at Best Buy     $679 at Amazon    $800 at Abt Electronics
back of the iPhone 14 Pro on a yellow background

From the back, the $999 iPhone 14 Pro looks identical to last year's 13 Pro. But don't let that sameness fool you. It's the 14 Pro's screen where there's something different and wonderful going on. The display notch, that defined previous Face ID iPhone models, has morphed into a pill-shaped screen cutout that can show system alerts and background activities like when you receive a call or play music. Apple calls this functionality the Dynamic Island. I know, it's not the best name, but it's truly one of the best features.

The iPhone 14 Pro has a 6.1-inch adaptive-refresh-rate screen that adjusts between 1 and 120Hz depending on what's on the screen. It also gets upgraded cameras, a faster processor, an always-on display, iOS 16 and new safety features like Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via Satellite. Driving all these upgrades is Apple's new A16 Bionic chip, which in use feels peppy. 

The main camera gets a new larger 48-megapixel sensor. While more megapixels doesn't necessarily mean better photos, Apple divides the pixels into groups of four and combines them into one larger pixel. The result is a 12-megapixel photo that's brighter and has less image noise and better detail.

The iPhone 14 Pro is the one of the best phones released by Apple or any phone maker this year. Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.

The $729 iPhone 13 is still an excellent phone. In fact, if you're tempted by the iPhone 14 and want to save some money, grab a 13. They have essentially the same body, same screen and same A15 Bionic processor. Although technically, the iPhone 14's processor does have an extra GPU core.

The iPhone 13, like the 12 before it, is defined by its square-sided design. It supports 5G, MagSafe charging and has cameras on par with the ones from 2020's top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro Max.

But the iPhone 13's best feature is its larger battery that, in our tests, lasted 4.5 hours more on a single charge than the iPhone 12, and nearly 3 hours longer than the new iPhone 14.

The 13 also has Cinematic mode, which is basically a video version of Portrait mode, and iOS 16, This all adds up to an excellent phone. The iPhone 13 earned a 2021 CNET Editors' Choice Award. Also, if you activate it on a select carrier at purchase, Apple drops the price to $699. Read our Apple iPhone 13 review.

iphone-14-plus-0298

The $929 iPhone 14 Plus is either a big iPhone 14 or a scaled-back iPhone 14 Pro Max, depending on your perspective. Ever since the iPhone XS Max launched in 2018, there has been only one option for those who love big screens: Pay top dollar and get a Max model with extra features you might not necessarily need (like a telephoto camera or a high refresh rate display). I know many CNET readers, friends and co-workers who have shelled out $1,100 or more for an iPhone 12 Pro Max or 13 Pro Max because it was the only way to get a phone in the size they wanted. But that changes now.

The 14 Plus has all of the iPhone 14's features and, like the 14 Pro Max, it has a 6.7-inch display that gives you a larger canvas for watching videos, playing games and taking photos. The 14 Plus can either let you fit more onto the screen or just show everything the iPhone 14 does but much bigger. A magnified view seems like such a mundane feature, yet as my eyes get older, I definitely welcome it.

If you are deciding between the iPhone 14 Plus and the iPhone 14 Pro Max and you don't need a telephoto camera, a high-refresh-rate screen or extra weight, I say go with the 14 Plus and save $200. If you activate it on a carrier, Apple drops the price to $899. Read our Apple iPhone 14 Plus review.

iPhone 13 Mini

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Who said small phones don't exist in 2022? The $629 iPhone 13 Mini is brilliant because it has everything the iPhone 13 has -- it's just smaller. It has the same square-edged looks, support for 5G and the same cameras. The 13 Mini's defining feature is its 5.4-inch OLED screen that supports Dolby HDR. If that sounds too small, consider that Plus models, like the iPhone 8 Plus, had a 5.5-inch screen inside a much larger body. The 13 Mini's secret is that it lacks those giant forehead and chin bezels that defined the iPhone for its first decade.

The screen is covered with Apple's ceramic shield and the body, like nearly all phones on this list, has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. The 13 Mini has an A15 Bionic processor that puts it on the same level of performance as the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus.

The iPhone 13 Mini is the exact same price as the iPhone 12, but the Mini actually lasts longer on a single charge than the bigger iPhone 12. I only recommend you get the 13 Mini for its size. If you aren't OK with a small phone, you might be disappointed or frustrated. And if you activate it on a carrier, Apple drops the price to $599. Read more about the Apple iPhone 13 Mini.

iPhone 14 Pro

The $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max is just a big version of the iPhone 14 Pro. It has the same A16 Bionic processor, the same cameras and the same features. But it does differ in two big ways from the 14 Pro: It has a bigger 6.7-inch high-refresh rate screen and a bigger battery. In fact, in our tests, the iPhone 14 Pro Max had the longest battery life of any phone on this list.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is outstanding in every way. But I only recommend getting it if you want a bigger Pro model iPhone, because it weighs a lot. It's 34 grams heavier than the iPhone 14 Pro and 37 grams heavier than the iPhone 14 Plus. Most of that weight comes from the 14 Pro Max's stainless steel body. Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max review.

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