Choosing an iPhone in the past was easy. There was little choice on the market; at the beginning when it was launched in 2007. There was only one model. Then gradually, the offer was enriched and among new iPhone models that arrived in 2022 double or even quadruple their identities, low-cost versions, old products that remain in the price list, pro models, mini models, max models, models defined by a number, models that have an abbreviation. Customers are now in a jungle.
Identifying which iPhone to choose in 2022 can only be structured and in some respects complex and full of technical details, each of which is kept updated every year. This is what this article is for, as it is a kind of commentary on Apple’s comparator. If you want to know everything, continue reading.
In 2022, Apple has 5 common iPhone models (and some of their variants) on the market:
All of these iPhones are different from each other with even “nested” differences (see iPhone 13: iPhone 13 Pro is different from iPhone 13 Max which in turn are different from iPhone 13 mini, a smaller version of iPhone 13).
In reality, the technical differences are often very few but some focus on the key points, so if it is true that the vast majority of the functions are identical, each iPhone is aimed at a different audience. We do not pretend here to create an exact profile of each iPhone. For this, there are tabs, even if you want the Apple comparator.
Here, we will rather try everything to frame the main factors that in our opinion should be put before others when choosing an iPhone in 2022.
Which iPhone to buy in 2022?
Let’s start by drawing up some ideal profiles of the possible buyer of each of the various iPhone models in 2022.
Buy an iPhone SE
- If you want to have the most powerful Apple processor at the lowest price
- If you want a small iPhone
- If you want to spend as little as possible
- If you hate Face ID
- If the ultra vintage design does not scare you but fascinates you
Buy an iPhone 11
- If you want a generously sized screen phone at the lowest price
- If you just want good photos without aiming for the maximum
- If the OLED display is not the basis of your choices
- If you want to spend the minimum for a big screen
Buy an iPhone 12 mini
- If you want a phone that fits in any pocket
- If you want an iPhone with a modern design
- If you want a small phone
- If reduced autonomy is not a problem
Buy an iPhone 12
- If you want the best of an iPhone at the fairest price
- If you want an iPhone with a modern design
- If you want the best ratio of phone size to pocket size
- If you want to take good pictures in any situation
Buy an iPhone 13 mini
- If you do not find an iPhone 12 mini discounted by 10/15% on the Apple price
- If the autonomy of the iPhone 12 mini scares you
- If you are interested in a couple of more photographic functions than the iPhone 12 mini
Buy an iPhone 13
- If you do not find an iPhone 13 discounted by 10/15% on the Apple price
- If you are scared by the autonomy of the iPhone 12
- If you are interested in a couple of more photographic features than the iPhone 13
Buy an iPhone 13 Pro
- If you want the best of today’s iPhones
- If you want a pocket phone (even if not very light)
- If photography is your obsession
- If it makes you feel uncomfortable to show off something that is less than the absolute top
- If shopping isn’t a problem for you
Buy iPhone 13 Pro Max
- If you want to overdo it with an iPhone
- If you want the best display in the world in a phone
- If using a phone with two hands is not a problem
- If you wear a coat (or something with similar pockets) all year round
Factors you should look into when buying an iPhone in 2022
The age factor
The strongest temptation is to assume that the latest model is always the best to buy. If so, today you should only be looking at iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 because these are the latest phones to come out. But the first thing to assimilate when choosing an iPhone is that if it is true that the latest models always have something more than the previous model, this something is often not decisive, certainly not for everyone.
This is why an older iPhone could be perfect for the intended use and it could even be better if the cost also comes into play. Take into account, for example, that an iPhone 11 costs 40% less than an iPhone 13 but it is far from doing 40% less or more generically from being worth 40% less
In other cases, however, this consideration simply does not hold up as the new model costs only a little more than the old one. Going back to the iPhone 13, its cost is only 6% higher than that of an iPhone 12.
The size factor
The size of a phone is a crucial aspect. Not only ergonomics depend on them but also the size of the screen. Apple has constantly optimized the relationship between these two factors and for several years now, with the adoption of Face ID which has deleted Touch ID, it has managed to make the physical surface occupied more favorable from the smartphone in relation to the screen it contains.
In the Apple squad still on sale, size variability is limited to five:
- iPhone SE has a 4.7 “display
- The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini have a 5.1 “display
- iPhone 11 has a 6.1 “LCD display
- The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 in both the “normal” and Pro versions have a 6.1-inch OLED display
- iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display
Our opinion is that the iPhone SEs have a very small screen in relation to their physical dimensions. The wide edges generate an unfavorable form factor in the relationship between physical dimensions and screen dimensions. Even the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro with their borderless 6.1-inch OLED screen isn’t much bigger than an iPhone SE. An iPhone 13 mini, which is smaller than the iPhone SE, has a larger screen. The SEs, speaking of the screen, therefore offer few strengths, probably none.
Those looking for a small phone should therefore look to an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 mini which ultimately represents the best compromise between convenience and screen versatility. The display has dimensions larger than those of an iPhone SE, but the phone (thanks to the lack of frames) can still fit in the jeans pocket even in front.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 options
Moving on to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 and their Pro version, we are faced with the iPhones that best manage the size when compared to the versatility of the display. They are smaller than an older iPhone 8 Pro but have a much larger screen. They can easily fit in your pocket and even if they are a bit heavy (especially iPhone 13 Pro) they are still comfortable to use.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is instead intended for those who simply do not care about the size but about the screen that is almost like a mini-tablet. Putting an iPhone 13 Pro Max in your pocket is only possible if the pocket is that of a coat, using it with one hand is possible if you are a basketball player.
The connectivity factor
The iPhone SEs and iPhone 11s are only compatible with Gigabit-class 4G LTE, which beats widely where the old 4G LTE Advanced is supported but loses to the 5G network, whose support was introduced with iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 in all their versions are all compatible with the 5G (sub-6GHz) network. If you think in the future you can take advantage of this technology (which also consumes a lot of data), then you don’t have much choice.
When you are at home, the phones all behave more or less the same way, using Wi-Fi 6 technology (802.11ax) with MIMO technology which substantially doubles the number of channels on which the wireless band operates. However, you must have a router suitable for this technology
Finally, all models are compatible with the Bluetooth 5 standard, which guarantees distance and power benefits, with better support for disturbances.
The memory factor
The question of memory capacity(space available to store data) is far from secondary when thinking about which iPhone to choose in 2022. If you love music, photography or you like to have lots of apps always ready (or you forget to backup), then the 64 GB version still offered as an option on the iPhone SE, iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 will certainly be a problem. It is even more if you love taking pictures or shooting movies.
After all, many are wondering today if it still makes sense to market a 64 GB phone if not to present a lower price. Our advice is to shy away from the temptation to buy a 64GB iPhone unless you know exactly what you’re doing and methodically free up memory and probably use accessories to move photos and content. Even if you take advantage of a few subscriptions to cloud services, a 64GB iPhone is not acceptable.
You also take into account that Apple with the launch of the iPhone 13 which does not have any 64 GB version, seems to admit that for this memory cut there is no future at least on the top models.
128GB also represents modest space. But if you just love taking pictures (without exaggerating) and don’t download too many applications or, above all, games, they could probably be enough. In our opinion, with an iPhone 128 GB, it will be better to use some online backup service.
What space is adequate for iPhone in 2022?
256GB is adequate space, especially if you only take pictures and are interested in apps. If you go to the movies, then know that soon even a 256 GB iPhone can go tight and you will have to focus on the 512 GB model.
Finally, Apple today also offers the exaggerated 1TB cut for the Pro models but also the price is exaggerated. Right now 1 TB seems useless in an iPhone even though a future could become an interesting cut.
The camera factor
Finally, the camera is certainly a decisive challenge. The proof is in the emphasis that Apple historically assigns great marketing relevance to this feature. This is where even today, thanks to the advances in sensors and processors, it is possible to make the most important advances year on year, and this is where many users look when they buy an iPhone or any other phone. Know that it is also here that the age of a telephone is most evident even after a short time.
The hardware differences
iPhones have had different hardware specifications between one model and another for many years. Now, they also have differences in software functions. This is due to the many innovations that Apple introduces in the image processing component of its processors. Let’s start with the hardware differences
- The iPhone SEs have only one lens and take pretty good photos, also thanks to the image component of the A15 processor, especially in favorable light conditions. Except for the single lens, the sensor and other elements are the same as those of the iPhone 11.
- The iPhones 11, plus the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 with their mini versions all have two wide-angle cameras: ƒ / 1.6 and ultra-wide ƒ / 2.4. The cameras are very similar technically. However, the image processing element of the processor is different and makes a certain difference.
- The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro continue to have triple cameras but significantly change the specifications compared to the previous iPhone 12, Pro including telephoto: ƒ / 2.8, wide-angle: ƒ / 1.5, ultra-wide: ƒ / 1.8. First, they are capable of taking better photos in the dark. Plus the zoom is 3X.
- The iPhone 13 Pro also has a LiDAR sensor which is basically useful for improving the function of focusing in low light and in portraits.
The software differences
Below we list the main software functions and the models with which they are compatible
- Portrait mode with bokeh effect: simulates the background blur effect. Present in all iPhones
- Portrait lighting with six effects: retouch images taken in portrait mode, adding in addition to the natural shot, photo set, contouring, theater, theater b / w, high key b / w. Present in all iPhones
- Smart HDR: automatically balances highlights and shadows to avoid underexposed or overexposed areas. It is available, albeit in different versions (the latest models have Smart HDR 4), on all iPhones
- Night Mode: Reads the scene in low light and improves the shooting quality automatically. Present in all iPhones except iPhone SE
- Deep Fusion – Enhances details in images. Present in all iPhones
- Portraits in Night mode: Shoot the portrait mode even when the night mode function is activated (see above). In all iPhones except iPhone 11 and iPhone SE
- Apple ProRAW: Image capture in native sensor format to increase flexibility in photo editing. Available in the iPhone 12 and 13 Pro
- Photo Styles: iPhone captures images with different white and contrast balances. This computational function with reading of subjects and scenes and the ability to distinguish people from objects is present in both the iPhone SE 3 and the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.
Operating system support
Concern about Apple’s support when launching a new operating system doesn’t have to exist. The Cupertino company has a very “generous” policy in this area. Just think that the iPhone 6s released in 2015 received the latest version of iOS 15 released in 2021.
Obviously, there are limits imposed by the efficiency of the hardware but there are no essential services and applications that stop working shortly after the launch of a device. In any case, all the iPhones that you can buy today as officially on the market will be upgradeable for many years to come. Just to give an example, you can update the iPhone 6s released at the end of 2015 to the latest iOS 15 released in September 2021.
Other factors to look into when buying an iPhone in 2022
The other innovations that change between iPhones of different generations are in design, processors, and connectivity.
As for the style, you should know that Apple is usually very slow and cautious in changing it. For example, the design of the iPhone 6 continues to inspire all iPhones up to the iPhone 11. It also dictates the style of the iPhone SE 3 released in March 2022. In any case, it is something subjective and intuitive.
For processors in general only after two or three generations, there can be perceptible differences in performance from one year to another. This is the case of A14 against A15. In everyday life, it will be difficult to say that the new model is faster than last year. When Apple updates this component, it focuses eminently on efficiency and software functions (for example, on the imaging component). If speed is your concern, you can easily buy an iPhone even three years ago.
Connectivity has a very slow evolution. The most important leap was the transition from 4G to 5G with the iPhone 12, but this technology has yet to unfold its real advantages, and probably an iPhone 4G will stop being useful sooner for the lack of support for new operating systems than for the fact that 5G becomes an indispensable prerequisite.
First, the size of the batteries determines the autonomy. Secondly and to a lesser extent by the efficiency of the system and the processor. That this is the case is clearly represented by the autonomy of the various devices, the larger ones have greater autonomy than the smaller ones, and the more recent ones last longer than the older ones.
In practical terms, the autonomy of an iPhone 13 Pro Max will always be greater than that of an iPhone SE 3 and all the phones that are under it regardless of the processor they use. So an iPhone 13 Pro will have a longer battery life than an iPhone 12 Pro. If you want a phone that lasts a long time, resign yourself to buying a bigger newer one.