Saturday, July 13, 2024

What is the newest iPhone? We break it down


Everyone wants the latest iPhone. That’s the whole reason Apple releases new models every year — and why new launches cause many to become dissatisfied with what were perfectly good smartphones up until then. The thing is, with so many models now doing the rounds, it can be hard for the more casual phone enthusiast to know which is the latest and “best” iPhone.

That’s where we come in. This article provides the lowdown on the newest iPhones, as well as offering capsule reviews of the latest iPhones Apple is selling through its website. Hopefully, this should keep you up to date with the current state of the iPhone and help you zero in on the one for you.

The newest iPhone

The iPhone 12 is the newest iPhone available today. Apple officially launched it on October 23, so expect its successor to arrive on a similar date this fall. It was unveiled along with three other models in its series: The iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Together, these four models are the latest iPhones you can buy right now, with the best hardware, the best performance, and the best cameras.

They aren’t the only iPhones available, though, and you can still purchase three other very recent models from Apple’s website. These are the following:

  • iPhone SE (2020): Second-generation iPhone SE, announced on April 17, 2020. An affordable iPhone with some premium specs, and the last to be released before the iPhone 12.
  • iPhone 11: The direct predecessor to the iPhone 12, released on September 20, 2019. It was launched along with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, but those two have since been discontinued by Apple.
  • iPhone XR: The predecessor to the iPhone 11, released on October 26, 2018. Unveiled along with iPhone XS and XS Max and marketed as a lower-cost alternative to these two devices.

iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 is the newest iPhone available today. As you can probably imagine, it’s also the best iPhone you can get right now — at least, when cost is factored into the equation (see the iPhone 12 Pro below if you’re prepared to spend a little more). It carries the latest Apple hardware, most notably the A14 Bionic chip, which harnesses 5nm transistors (smaller than previously used) for super-fast performance. It also comes with 64GB of internal memory standard and with 4GB of RAM, more than enough to get the best out of the A14.

Its camera provides a noticeable jump compared to that of the iPhone 11, its direct forerunner. It comprises a 12-megapixel wide lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a range of Apple technologies — such as Smart HDR 3 and Deep Fusion — to ensure that photos are crisp and colorful, with just the right balance of brightness and dynamism. Its Portrait Mode remains excellent, and it’s also capable of taking some very nice pictures in low light and at night.

It’s also worth pointing out the iPhone 12’s battery offers a great lifespan. At 2,815mAh, it’s capable of lasting an entire day of pretty heavy use, and Apple’s software optimization allows it to outlast the considerably larger batteries you find on many Android phones. It recharges pretty speedily as well, with 20W fast charging support, meaning you can go from 0% to 50% in about 30 minutes.

Lastly, one big new feature of the iPhone 12 (and the iPhone 12 series as a whole) is that it’s the first Apple smartphone to support 5G. So if you want to connect to a 5G network and enjoy the fastest download speeds, it really is your only option — that is, as far as iPhones go. Another, more minor new feature is support for MagSafe accessories, such as wireless chargers that attach themselves to the back of the phone magnetically.

Read our full iPhone 12 review

iPhone 12 Mini

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A lower cost — and physically smaller — alternative to the iPhone 12 is the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s practically identical to the iPhone 12, with the same camera setup, internal hardware specs, and software support. However, where it does differ is having a 5.4-inch display (as opposed to a 6.1-inch display) and a smaller, 2,227mAh battery. It’s also $100 cheaper than the iPhone 12, so if you want to save some money and would prefer a smaller phone (and don’t mind a less long-lasting battery), it’s a great option.

It’s definitely a love letter to bygone small phones, and with sales apparently disappointing Apple, it could be your last chance to grab a truly small iPhone.

Read our full iPhone 12 Mini review

iPhone 12 Pro

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The iPhone 12 Pro is part of the latest iPhone range. It takes the same core hardware as the iPhone 12 but adds a few enhancements, which may or may not justify its $200 price increase. These enhancements include a third, telephoto camera lens, which is a nice extra to have but arguably isn’t essential. They also include a LiDAR sensor, which improves portrait shots by sensing depth and perspective more effectively than a regular camera lens. Another addition is support for Dolby Vision HDR video recording, which does admittedly make film footage look excellent, but resulting clips are viewable only on compatible TVs connected to Apple TV (and certain Macs).

Aside from coming with 128GB of internal memory as standard and 6GB of RAM, these are really the only significant differences between the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12. So if they don’t seem that important to you, you may prefer spending $200 less and going for the iPhone 12.

Read our full iPhone 12 Pro review

iPhone 12 Pro Max

You can view the iPhone 12 Pro Max as pretty much identical to the iPhone 12 Pro, save for a few key divergences. The most obvious is the much larger 6.7-inch Super Retina OLED display, which looks even more impressive than the iPhone 12 Pro’s 6.1-inch screen. Another big difference is the 3,687mAh battery, big enough to last a full day of demanding use with a substantial chunk of power still left in the tank. That’s pretty much it, though you may want to keep its extreme size in mind. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is significantly bigger than the iPhone 12 Pro — which may be obvious, given it has to house a larger display and larger battery. But it’s so large, in fact, that some people with smaller hands may find it uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time. Still, it’s a stunning phone and arguably justifies its $1,099 price tag. It’s the biggest, most powerful iPhone available today and the iPhone to grab if you want a massive screen on your iPhone.

Read our full iPhone 12 Pro Max review

iPhone SE (2020)

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The iPhone SE is one of the latest iPhones, and at $399, it’s a fantastic option if you want a high-performing iPhone at a low price. It combines the smaller frame of an iPhone 8 with the same internal processor as the iPhone 11, the A13 Bionic. This chip gives it much more computing power than it has any right to have, allowing it to outperform many smartphones selling for twice its price.

The iPhone SE also incorporates an excellent 12MP main camera lens. It lacks the ultrawide and telephoto lenses of the iPhone 12 series, but the main lens still takes excellent photos in a wide variety of conditions. Thanks to the use of the A13 chip, as well as its use of optical image stabilization and Smart HDR, the camera really does rival the main wide lenses you find on the iPhone 12, with pics looking realistic and well-balanced.

Some people may also like the fact that, in a world of gargantuan flagship phones, the iPhone SE is comfortably compact. However, one of the downsides of this is that its 4.7-inch display doesn’t look particularly impressive, although this is mostly because it’s LCD-based rather than OLED-based like the iPhone 12 range. At only 1,821mAh, its battery also isn’t especially long-lasting, although it’s fine if you aren’t a heavy user.

Read our full iPhone SE review

iPhone 11

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Released in 2019, the iPhone 11 came one generation before the iPhone 12. Given it’s not even two years old (yet), it remains an excellent device and is still being sold by Apple. Its headline features include the A13 Bionic chip (as seen with the iPhone SE, above), a dual-lens rear camera, excellent battery life, and an affordable $599 starting price.

Basically, you can view the iPhone 11 as a not-quite-as-advanced iPhone 12. Like the iPhone 12, it offers a 12MP main rear camera lens and a 12MP ultrawide lens, although these lack some of the subtle refinements of the two lenses housed by the iPhone 12. It also boasts a 6.1-inch display, though this is an LCD screen, so not quite as striking as the iPhone 12’s OLED-based counterpart. On the other hand, it does come with a bigger, 3,110mAh battery, which provides just a little more staying power than the iPhone 12’s 2,815mAh cell.

Of course, it also needs to be mentioned that, unlike the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11 doesn’t support 5G. Its design is arguably a little more attractive, though, with its curved sides preferable for some to the flat, angular sides of the iPhone 12.

Read our full iPhone 11 review

iPhone XR

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone XR is the oldest iPhone on this list, being released in 2018. But it’s still worth a look. It runs an A12 Bionic processor, which even today has no problem running pretty much all the latest video games. As with the iPhone SE (2020), it only has a single-lens rear camera, but this 12MP lens will take mostly great photos in most environments. At 2,942mAh, its battery will also comfortably last you a full day of pretty heavy-going use.

Put simply, the iPhone XR ticks off many of the boxes associated with more recent models: It looks great, performs even better, and has fantastic software. It’s a highly reliable device, and while its 6.1-inch LCD display isn’t as striking as the iPhone 12’s, it’s still pleasing enough (particularly if you’re upgrading from an older phone). When you add in the very reasonable $499 asking price, it almost seems like a steal.

Read our full iPhone XR review


The newest iPhone is the iPhone 12, along with the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. These are fantastic smartphones, providing top-notch performance and lasting you several years (assuming you aren’t a compulsive upgrader). However, they aren’t the only iPhones being sold by Apple right now, with the manufacturer’s website selling three other recent models: The iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 11, and iPhone XR. These are also great phones and remain highly recommended, particularly if you don’t want to pay top dollar.

Of course, it won’t be long before Apple announces the next generation of iPhones, putting at least some of the above models at risk of obsolescence. So keep checking this space if you want to keep abreast of the latest iPhone models.

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