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A Comprehensive Review: Our Best iPhones of 2023

Whether it’s camera capabilities, battery life, value, or something else, this iPhone comparison buying guide will help narrow down the best fit for you.
Two iPhones being held up show the front and back views.

The year 2023 brings with it an impressive range of iPhones, each boasting groundbreaking features and exceptional performance. With the ever-evolving lineup of Apple smartphones, it can be overwhelming to determine which iPhone is the perfect fit for your needs. Fear not, as our definitive guide is here to help you navigate the best iPhones of 2023, offering a thorough analysis of top models, feature highlights, and expert advice to assist you in making the right choice.

Best Overall: iPhone 15

Apple’s latest iPhone generation has set a new standard for innovation and user satisfaction. iPhone 15 introduces groundbreaking features that redefine smartphone excellence.

Dynamic Island: A Notch-Free Future

Say farewell to the traditional notch on your iPhone's screen. iPhone 15 introduces the revolutionary Dynamic Island, a pill-shaped innovation that replaces the notch. Unlike its predecessor, the Dynamic Island expands to offer a multitude of functionalities. From delivering notifications to providing real-time battery updates and granting quick access to your favorite apps, it transforms your user experience seamlessly.

ProMotion: Seamless Display Excellence

Experience a level of fluidity like never before with ProMotion technology. iPhone 15 boasts a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion, ensuring silky-smooth scrolling, lifelike animations, and incredibly responsive touch interactions. It's a game-changer for those who demand excellence.

Always On: Stay Informed Effortlessly

The Always On function keeps you informed even when your iPhone is in sleep mode. Glance at the date, check the weather, or see the time without waking your device. It's a convenience that simplifies your daily life.

Key Features

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion
  • Dynamic Island for a notch-free display
  • Splash, Water, and Dust Resistance (IP68)
  • iOS 17 for a powerful and intuitive experience
  • 5G Connectivity for blazing-fast speeds

What we like most

iPhone 15 retains its signature sleek and stylish design, now available in a stunning Deep Purple color option. Updates to the phone include the game-changing Dynamic Island, the convenience of Always On, and enhancements to the camera.

Here are some cool enhancements that the iPhone 15 camera brings to the table:

  • 48MP Main Camera: iPhone 15 boasts a powerful 48-megapixel (48MP) main camera, a significant leap in resolution compared to its predecessors. This upgrade translates to photos with unparalleled detail, sharpness, and vibrancy, ensuring your memories come to life vividly.
  • 2X Telephoto Lens: With the inclusion of a 2X telephoto lens, iPhone 15 empowers you to capture distant subjects with remarkable clarity and precision. Whether you're zooming in on far-off objects or getting up close and personal, this telephoto lens maintains the highest image quality, offering unparalleled flexibility in your photography endeavors.
  • Versatile Ultra Wide Camera: iPhone 15 retains its versatile Ultra Wide camera, a cornerstone of its camera system. Ideal for sweeping landscapes, group portraits, and creative wide-angle shots, it seamlessly complements the main camera and telephoto lens, delivering versatility that inspires your photographic creativity.
  • Super-High-Resolution Photography: iPhone 15's camera system introduces super-high-resolution photo capture, offering both 24MP and 48MP options. This means you have the freedom to choose the level of detail and resolution that suits your photographic vision, ensuring your photos stand out in clarity and depth.
  • Next-Level Portraits: Elevating portrait photography, iPhone 15 introduces advanced features for improved focus and depth control. This innovation enables you to craft stunning portrait shots with captivating background blur (bokeh) and precise subject emphasis, transforming your portraits into works of art.
  • Optical Zoom Flexibility: Thanks to the 2X telephoto lens, iPhone 15 provides optical zoom capabilities that allow you to get closer to your subjects without compromising image quality. Whether you're capturing distant scenes or experimenting with creative effects, this feature enhances your photography possibilities.
  • Cinematic Mode: Continuing its tradition, iPhone 15 offers the Cinematic Mode, enabling you to produce professional-looking videos enriched with depth-of-field effects. Even after recording, you can fine-tune the focus, adding a cinematic flair to your video creations.

Other considerations

While iPhone 15 offers a host of new features, it's important to note that the battery life may be slightly shorter due to the Always On feature. If you're comparing iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, consider your priorities to make the best choice for your needs.

Best Entertainment Value: iPhone 14 Pro Max

Major improvements to the camera are a big part of the reason it’s one of the best iPhones for photographers. It’s also an entertainment powerhouse thanks to its impressive screen size, enhanced video capabilities, and overall multimedia performance, making it a top choice for users who prioritize entertainment and media consumption on their smartphones.

iPhone 14 Pro Max’s video capabilities are noticeably better compared to previous generations, plus you get up to 29 hours of video playback. While Apple has always led the pack in great video, new Action Mode technology means that videos are more stable than ever before, even video taken while in motion. Yes, iPhone 14 Pro has these features, too, but photos and videos look bigger than life on the giant 6.7” screen.

iPhone 14 Pro series also mark the first time that Apple has updated its 12-megapixel camera in nearly a decade, now boasting a 48 MP main camera that uses technology called pixel-binning to create vivid, true-to-life 12-megapixel images.

Key Features

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion
  • 48MP Main camera
  • Cinematic mode
  • Action Mode for smooth, steady, handheld videos

What we like most

Apple has outdone itself with Action Mode, and the 48-megapixel camera is a welcome addition. To top it off, the huge screen brings it all to life in living color.

Other considerations

This model is usually for sale at a premium. Another consideration is that it’s Apple’s first foray into a more powerful main camera.

Best Compact: iPhone 13 mini

Since the mini model was phased out in 2023, the previous generation iPhone 13 mini is a great option for those who want a truly compact device that is just about as powerful as its larger counterparts. At around the size of an iPhone 5, it still uses the A15 Bionic Chip, meaning it’s nice and fast. iPhone 13 mini also features the same excellent dual-camera system and vivid HDR. Good things do sometimes still come in small packages!

Key Features

  • 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR Display
  • Cinematic Mode
  • Advanced Dual-Camera System
  • Smart HDR 4
  • Night Mode
  • 4K Dolby Vision HDR Recording
  • 12MP TrueDepth Front Camera
  • A15 Bionic Chip

What we like most

The main selling point of iPhone 13 mini is, of course, its size. At 5.4 inches, it’s well over a full-inch smaller than iPhone 14 Pro Max and noticeably more pocketable than iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Plus. And while most smaller smartphones aren’t as super-fast or functional as the newer versions, iPhone 13 mini still has excellent speed and camera capabilities.

Two iPhones, front and back displayed.

Other considerations

There is one consideration to the more compact body of iPhone 13 mini: battery life. Although it does improve on the relatively short battery life of its predecessor compared to its bigger devices.

Best Value: iPhone 13 Pro

For iPhone fans who are looking for an upgrade, there are some great deals on iPhone 13 Pro Series. Now that many iPhone users are interested in iPhone 14 series, it’s a great time to trade in older iPhones for a top-of-the-line iPhone 13 Pro at a fraction of what the device cost last year.

In addition to being a great value, iPhone 13 Pro has some standout features. For starters, the battery life beats that of iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it operates on the same, super-fast A15 bionic chip as the latest generation. iPhone 13 is also optimized for a 5G future, meaning that it should work well on 5G networks for years to come.

Key Features

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion
  • Cinematic Mode
  • Pro Camera System
  • LiDAR Scanner
  • 6x Optical Zoom Range
  • ProRes Video
  • Smart HDR 4
  • Night Mode
  • Apple ProRAW
  • A15 Bionic Chip

What we like most

iPhone 13 Pro is an affordable option for upgrading if you’re willing to skip or delay getting one of the new iPhone 14 series devices. It has a great camera and the same superfast chipset and 5G capabilities as the latest version.

Other considerations

There are some features, like Dynamic Island, that you won’t get without upgrading to iPhone 14 Series. And while iPhone 13 Pro comes with updates like Cinematic Mode for more vivid video, along with better low light photography capabilities, those upgrading from iPhone 12 might not see much difference between the two models.

Best Budget: iPhone SE (3rd Gen)

There are lots of reasons to love iPhone. After all, its stylish appearance, intuitive design, and exclusive features like iMessage have made iPhone the best-selling smartphone in the US for years. However, some people are looking for the classic design and size of an older-generation iPhone without all the bells and whistles. And for those who prefer simplicity, the third-generation iPhone SE is an incredible bargain. It’s compact, at just 4.7 inches, but it still has 5G capabilities and the same fast processor as iPhone 13 at a much lower price.

Key Features

  • 5G Cellular
  • 4.7-inch Retina HD Display
  • Advanced Single-Camera System
  • 7MP FaceTime HD Camera
  • A15 Bionic Chip

What we like most

Small, stylish, and affordable, iPhone SE is still just as fast and 5G-ready as its larger counterparts. Perfect for a starter smartphone or for anyone who likes the design of older generation iPhones and doesn’t need all the extras.

Other considerations

Because iPhone SE is so small, battery life may be a question . Though users get 15 hours of video playback (five hours more than the second generation) iPhone SE may require a touch more frequent charging compared to its larger counterparts. Also, the pared-down single camera has many of the features today’s latest iPhone users are used to, such as Night Mode. While iPhone SE does provide a strikingly bright display within a budget-friendly range, some might find the experience of video viewing on its more petite screen just a tad challenging. However, it's important to note that there are folks who might be perfectly comfortable with this screen size and may not necessarily require a larger display. 

Apple's iPhone continues to shine as one of the best devices out there. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly options or high-end powerhouses with all the bells and whistles, our comprehensive gives you a detailed breakdown of what each model brings to the table so you can narrow down your options and find the perfect iPhone that suits your needs and preferences. No matter which one you choose, you know you’re getting cutting-edge technology and outstanding performance. Happy hunting!

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