Which iPhone Should You Buy? We Help Decode the 15 from the 15 Pro and the SE

best iphones of 2023
Our Guide to the Entire Apple iPhone LineupStefan Vazharov

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In the market for a new iPhone? You came to the right place. Having extensively tested every iteration for years, we're here to help you decide which iPhone is worth the upgrade based on your budget and preferences — from the all-new, decadently luxurious iPhone 15 Pro Max to the entry-level iPhone SE.

The iPhones We Recommend

During the “Wanderlust” keynote event in September, Apple unveiled four new iPhones, with the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro leading the way. Available with 6.1- and 6.7-inch display panels, the latest iPhones bring a host of design and hardware updates over their predecessors. The noteworthy highlights include USB-C connectors for the entire iPhone 15 lineup, an upgraded camera, and Dynamic Island for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus.

In addition to USB-C, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max feature an all-new, stunning titanium build, a customizable action button, a cutting-edge A17 Pro chip, and an upgraded camera with a longer zoom range on the big-screen version.

The iPhone 15 debut brought significant changes to Apple’s iPhone lineup. After 3 years on the shelves, the iPhone 12 is no longer available. The iPhone 13 received a price cut and replaced its predecessor as an entry-level big-screen offering, while the iPhone 13 mini — Apple’s compact all-screen iPhone — is no longer for sale, leaving the iPhone SE as the only option with a smaller screen.

Every new iPhone has up-to-date 5G network connectivity. And save for the old-school iPhone SE, all iPhones are Face ID-equipped and MagSafe-compatible. The magnetic technology makes the iPhone compatible with snap-on accessories like chargers, battery packs, and wallets, to name a few.

What to Consider

Choosing Between a Regular and Pro iPhone

When choosing between a standard iPhone and a Pro version, you should know that the latter always has an edge in craftsmanship, performance, and camera quality, among other bits. Since 2019, when the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max debuted the feature, every Pro model that followed offered a triple camera with dedicated telephoto units. The setup is more versatile than the dual snapper of the non-Pro iterations.

Moreover, iPhone Pros have a chip a generation ahead of the non-Pro models since 2022, when the iPhone 14 arrived with an A15 Bionic and the 14 Pro with the A16 Bionic on board. A more powerful chip in real life translates into superior multitasking, gaming, and faster interactions.

Overall, an iPhone Pro is always the one to get if you want the best of everything. That said, you should know that lower-priced non-Pro offerings are always the best for the money and perfect for students, older techies, and upgraders who aren't tech-savvy in general.

Screen Size

Save for the tiny 4.7-inch iPhone SE, every iPhone on the market is available with a 6.1- or a 6.7-inch screen, with the latter reserved for Plus and Pro Max models. An iPhone with a 6.1-inch display will always be more pocket- and purse-friendly and easier to use with one hand on the move.

Big-screen iPhones have a considerable edge in battery endurance. A Plus or a Pro Max is also better for gaming, watching videos, attending virtual meetings, and staying productive in general.

It's important to note that we included contract-free pricing for each iPhone. You can also opt to order the product and pay monthly installments to your phone carrier. The trade-in program that Apple and its carrier partners offer is also excellent — depending on your outgoing phone and which iPhone model you pick, it might cost you next to nothing to upgrade.

Whether you’re looking to snag your first iPhone or set your iCal for Apple’s new launches every year, check out our decoded guide to the best available today. Because, after all, there’s an iPhone out there for everyone.

Best iPhone

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.apple.com%2Fshop%2Fbuy-iphone%2Fiphone-15-pro&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestproducts.com%2Ftech%2Fgadgets%2Fa25589216%2Fiphone-buying-guide%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>iPhone 15 Pro</p><p>apple.com</p><p>$999.00</p><span class="copyright">Stefan Vazharov</span>

The iPhone 15 Pro is Apple’s best smartphone and the one to get if it fits in your upgrade budget. It has a striking new design with a titanium frame and customizable action button, a groundbreaking A17 Pro chip, a next-level triple camera, and a Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion and always-on tech.

The first thing that struck me upon unboxing the iPhone 15 Pro is that it’s much lighter than the 14 Pro — more than half an ounce, to be precise. Its titanium frame looks (and feels) stunning in the metal, making high-priced rivals look cheaper in comparison.

iphone 15 color options

The customizable action button of the Pro brought a new layer of convenience to go with the refined design mentioned above. From switching between ring and silent mode to powering up the flashlight all the way to activating shortcuts, the list of customization options is quite extensive. My favorite new function was to activate the camera by long press, then take photos with shorter ones.

As the first iPhone chip to carry the legendary “Pro” moniker, the A17 Pro offers an unrivaled power and energy efficiency amalgam. It utilizes a cutting-edge 3-nanometer architecture that puts it years ahead of the competition. Its six-core GPU makes running console-grade games like Resident Evli: Village a reality, while upcoming blockbuster titles guarantee the iPhone 15 Pro will become a formidable, infinitely more practical handheld console rival.

Impeccable outdoor visibility sets the display of the iPhone 15 Pro apart from all high-end rivals not made by Apple. The former brings an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, resulting in smooth and fast onscreen interactions. In tandem with the A17 Pro chip, ProMotion makes the product a better mobile gaming rig.

To say the Pro's multi-sensor camera is impressive would be an understatement. Remarkably, its 48MP main sensor can toggle between three focal lengths. By allowing me to snap high-resolution photos in so many range options, the Pro camera brought me back to the days when I used a DSLR camera with swappable lenses. Except now, I didn't have to make an effort to lugg the extra glass.

iphone 15 camera

Compared to the lower-cost iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Pro has a palpably more luxurious build, an action button, a more capable chip, a superior triple camera, a smoother ProMotion display with a higher maximum refresh rate, and a USB-C connector with faster data transfer speeds. These qualities make it worth every penny of its considerable price tag.

The entry-level iPhone 15 Pro has 128GB of storage, while power users can level up to a whopping 1TB of memory. You can order the product in several titanium finishes — natural, black, blue, and white — with a matching glass back.

A Great iPhone for Less

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.apple.com%2Fshop%2Fbuy-iphone%2Fiphone-15&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestproducts.com%2Ftech%2Fgadgets%2Fa25589216%2Fiphone-buying-guide%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>iPhone 15</p><p>apple.com</p><p>$799.00</p><span class="copyright">Stefan Vazharov</span>

The iPhone 15 is a fantastic upgrade option since it’s packed with futureproof hardware specs at an agreeable price. The highlights include Apple’s powerful A16 Bionic chipset that powers the iPhone 14 Pro, a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with Dynamic Island for improved iOS and app interactions, excellent stereo speakers, a stellar dual camera, solid battery life, and a USB-C port.

Starting at $799, the iPhone 15 is competitively priced by today’s top-shelf smartphone standards. Its chipset, camera quality, and safety features make it the best pick in its price range by an overwhelming margin.

Compared to the stellar iPhone 14 that it replaces, the iPhone 15 has a more sophisticated design with a color-infused matte glass pane, a more powerful A16 Bionic chip, a Dynamic Island-toting screen with iPhone Pro-levels of brightness, and a superior camera setup with a higher-resolution wide sensor and reliable zoom capabilities. These meaningful upgrades make the iPhone 15 worth considering even if you currently own an iPhone 14.

the new dynamic island for iphone 15

Apple offers the iPhone 15 in several eye-catching colors: black, blue, green, pink, and yellow. The starter iPhone 15 comes with ample 128GB of storage, and you can spec it with up to 512GB of memory.

With a 6.7-inch display and incredible battery life, the iPhone 15 Plus is a phenomenal option for big-screen phone buyers looking to keep their budget below $1,000. The rest of the Plus model’s specs and performance are identical to those of the iPhone 15. So are the available color options.

iphone 15 size compared to the iphone 15 plus
Stefan Vazharov

For $100 less for a variant with the same storage capacity, the iPhone 14 is a more affordable alternative to the iPhone 15 that's still among the best for the money. However, given the design, hardware, performance, and camera quality improvements the iPhone 15 brings, I strongly suggest you spend an extra $100 to snag one. Unless you can grab one at a very big discount, don’t consider the iPhone 14 over its sequel.

The Most Affordable iPhone

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.apple.com%2Fshop%2Fbuy-iphone%2Fiphone-se&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestproducts.com%2Ftech%2Fgadgets%2Fa25589216%2Fiphone-buying-guide%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>iPhone SE</p><p>apple.com</p><p>$429.00</p>

Starting just a tad above $400, the latest iPhone SE is an excellent buy for users who don't need or want the most tricked-out smartphone. It has the same compact and familiar design as its predecessor but more futureproof hardware. You can grab one in midnight, starlight, or (PRODUCT)RED.

Equipped with the same A15 Bionic chip with a Neural Engine as the iPhone 14, the iPhone SE is the most powerful smartphone in its price range... and well beyond. Like all new iPhones, it has a water-resistant housing, built-in stereo speakers, and fast wired and wireless charging support. MagSafe support, however, is not available.

hand holding black iphone se against a brick wall
Brandon Carte

The new iPhone SE can capture excellent images with its primary camera and selfie snapper, as well as portrait photos with a blurred background. It can also record crisp 4K video with high-quality stabilization and stereo sound.

It’s important to note that the SE is the only iPhone with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The feature is fast and reliable but a bit old-school when compared to the Face ID of the pricier iPhones. Face ID-equipped iPhone models have bigger displays with a different aspect ratio than the SE, offering more immersive iOS, app, and gaming experiences.

The Ultimate Big-Screen iPhone

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.apple.com%2Fshop%2Fbuy-iphone%2Fiphone-15-pro&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestproducts.com%2Ftech%2Fgadgets%2Fa25589216%2Fiphone-buying-guide%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Phone 15 Pro Max</p><p>apple.com</p><p>$1199.00</p><span class="copyright">Stefan Vazharov</span>

Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max is today’s biggest and most capable iPhone. Thanks to a much bigger screen, longer battery life, and a telephoto camera with a bigger zoom range, the luxurious productivity and entertainment powerhouse is worth the extra $200 over the iPhone 15 Pro. This is the Pro iPhone to get as long as you don’t mind its size and hefty price.

My favorite new bit about the iPhone 15 Pro Max — and the reason I'd choose it over the iPhone 15 Pro — is the 5X telephoto camera. The biggest optical zoom range on an iPhone to date allowed me to capture instantly shareable photos of Central Park wildlife with ease. Having this camera will give you a serious upgrade when capturing moments at concerts, festivals, and sporting events.

The big and bright Super Retina XDR OLED display with ProMotion tech ensures that the range-topping iPhone is perfect for gaming, watching videos, and staying productive in any scenario. The captivating screen is also great for editing photos and videos captured by the best-in-class triple camera. Of course, the screen also has a Dynamic Island for countless new interactions.

The 15 Pro Max has a massive battery that can last two days between charges, depending on how you manage your screen-on time. The strong battery life makes the Max a great option for those constantly on the go (or hate charging up). Thanks to the USB-C port, the big battery can also come in handy for charging AirPods and other wireless earbuds in a pinch.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is available in the same colors as the smaller iPhone 15 Pro — natural, black, white, and blue titanium. It starts at $1,199 for a base model. That’s $200 more than a starter iPhone 15 Pro, but you’ll get 256GB of storage instead of 128GB.

Here’s Everything Else We Love About Apple’s iPhone Lineup

iphone 15s
Stefan Vazharov

→ Specs & Performance

The iPhone's hardware specs and overall performance are second to none — giving Apple loyalists good reason for their dedication to the tech giant. An OLED display panel, which delivers vibrant colors and even more captivating HDR-enhanced content, now comes standard on most iPhones — and it makes a major difference.

→ Connectivity

From the iPhone 12 onwards, all iPhone models have 5G. The next-generation network connectivity brings faster data speeds and many other advantages over the older 4G LTE standard. All currently available iPhones have futureproof Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 (or higher) on board, too.

→ Water-Resistance

From the iPhone 7 onwards, every iPhone has robust water resistance with an official IP rating. The latest models are even tougher than their rating suggests: They're capable of surviving depths of up to 6 meters (20 feet) — deeper than an Olympic diving pool.

→ Accessories

MagSafe arrived alongside last year's iPhone 12 lineup and is also available in the succeeding generation. It's a convenient magnetic tech for accessories and is available in everything from convenient chargers to cool protective cases and handy snap-on wallets.

We're also constantly impressed by the wide range of accessories available for iPhones, from wallets to charging stands to eco-friendly cases. This allows you to customize your gadget to fit your individual personality.


If investing in a futureproof device is a priority to you, you're in luck. Every iPhone comes with many years’ worth of iOS firmware and security updates, allowing even generations-old Apple smartphones the ability to stay up to date. For comparison, save for high-end Samsung and Google offerings, many Android smartphones come with firmware and security updates for only 2 to 3 years.

→ Environmental Impact

Before you buy, keep in mind that Apple is packaging the latest iPhones in more compact boxes without a charging adapter to reduce their environmental impact. If you don't have a solid charger lined up for your new device, we have you covered with plenty of affordable options. And if you want to avoid accumulating more cables in your life, every new iPhone is also compatible with wireless charging.

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