What is the Newest iPhone Out Right Now? [September 2021]

Although their announcement was pushed back from their usual September timeframe, Apple’s new iPhone lineup for 2020 proved to be well worth the wait. This is the biggest change to the iPhone in years, both in design and in the options you have for buying one. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all iPhone; it seems Apple developed a device for everyone, no matter your budget or your hand size.

What is the Newest iPhone Out Right Now? [September 2021]

So, if you’re ready to explore Apple’s changes to the iPhone, you’ve come to the right place. From the Mini to the Max, these are the newest iPhones you can buy right now.

iPhone 12: The Latest Devices

Let’s kick things off with the namesake itself: the iPhone 12. Apple’s design language for the iPhone hasn’t changed much since the launch of the iPhone X in 2017, and the rounded aluminum body of the device actually goes back to the launch of the iPhone 6 in 2014. That all changed with this year’s iPhone 12, which returns to the same language of design used way back on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Sharp corners and flat sides make for a striking phone design, one which many consider being the pinnacle of Apple’s entire lineup of phones.

Still, don’t let the new design fool you: this is still an iPhone through and through, and it builds on last year’s excellent iPhone 11 in some truly fantastic ways. For starters, the display has been greatly improved, with a switch from LCD to OLED—just like on the Pro series of phones—and a bump in resolution. That means the 6.1″ display on the iPhone 12 actually matches the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max in pixel density, so buyers no longer have to make their choice based on the screen quality alone.

Most of the other major changes here extend to all four of Apple’s newest phones. The company has introduced a new Ceramic Shield front covering for its glass, which should help keep your phone protected from cracks and scratches. The company has reintroduced MagSafe as a brand-new feature for the iPhone, allowing you to charge wirelessly with magnets while also including a whole new line of magnet-equipped accessories.

And of course, there’s the 5G of it all. Apple has made a big show of their support for 5G, complete with a huge partnership with Verizon during the iPhone announcement. For most people, however, 5G is still several years away from making a true impact on how we use our phones. It’s good to see its inclusion as a way to futureproof these devices, but if you’re just upgrading based on 5G alone, you’re going to be disappointed.

One last major change for the iPhone 12: the camera. Apple has once again opted to include two 12MP lenses on its standard iPhone, but the standard wide-angle lens now features a lower aperture, which should allow for improved low-light performance. We’ll have to wait and see how Apple’s new camera setup compares to the likes of the Pixel 5, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Apple’s iPhone 12 starts at $799 on Verizon and AT&T, and $829 on Sprint, T-Mobile, and unlocked.

Here’s the full spec list for the iPhone 12:

  • Weight: 164g
  • Dimensions: 71.5 x 146.7 x 7.4mm
  • Operating System: iOS 14
  • Screen size: 6.1 inches OLED
  • Resolution: 2532 x 1170 pixels (460ppi) 
  • Chipset: A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Battery: 2775mAh (rumored)
  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front-facing
  • Starting price: $799

Latest iPhone 12 Mini

Before we head into this year’s Pro lineup of phones, it’s worth quickly looking at the newest addition to Apple’s lineup, the iPhone 12 Mini. This is the smallest phone Apple has produced since the iPhone 5s, with a smaller footprint than the 4.7″ iPhone 6, while still featuring a larger 5.4″ display.

The entire phone industry has largely left smaller phones behind to focus on producing larger and larger devices—and indeed, Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max is the largest phone the company has ever produced—but with the iPhone 12 Mini, Apple has finally returned to producing a phone for anyone who wants a smaller device.

Outside of a reduction in estimated battery life, there are no tradeoffs for choosing the iPhone 12 Mini over its 6.1″ counterpart. The phone still features a high-resolution OLED display, and thanks to the smaller screen, it actually has the highest pixel density of any iPhone to date. The phone is still powered by Apple’s new A14 Bionic chip, features 5G, Magsafe, and uses identical camera specs as the larger model. For anyone stuck between this phone and the standard iPhone 12, it’ll really come down to the size of the device and how it feels in your hand.

Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini starts at $699 on Verizon and AT&T, and $729 on Sprint, T-Mobile, and unlocked.

  • Weight: 135g
  • Dimensions: 64.2 x 131.5 x 7.4mm
  • Operating System: iOS 14
  • Screen size: 5.4 inches
  • Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels (476ppi)
  • Chipset: A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 64/256/512GB
  • Battery: 2227mAh (rumored)
  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front-facing
  • Starting price: $699

Latest iPhone 12 Pro

Alright, onto the Pro lineup. This is the second year in a row Apple has used the “Pro” moniker for their high-end iPhones, but unlike in 2019, the differences between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro are smaller than ever before. Sure, the Pro series still uses a stainless steel body rather than the aluminum used by the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Mini, and the display on the iPhone 12 Pro is brighter in everyday use. But with the iPhone 12 now offering a high-res OLED panel rated at the identical resolution as the iPhone 12 Pro, the differences between the two really come down to a single factor: the cameras.

While the iPhone 12 Pro’s wide and ultrawide lenses remain identical to the standard iPhone 12, the Pro series also includes the telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom, as well as a new LIDAR sensor first seen on Apple’s iPad Pro. That LIDAR sensor is mainly used for improved augmented reality, though Apple has also improved low-light performance and autofocus thanks to the additional sensor. While the bump to the iPhone 12 Pro also doubles your storage, unless you need the telephoto lens, for most buyers, the iPhone 12 is much easier to justify at its $799 price tag.

As with the previous two models, the iPhone 12 Pro includes everything else you’d expect from this year’s iPhone: Ceramic Shield, MagSafe charging, and support for 5G networks.

Here’s the full spec list for the iPhone 12 Pro:

  • Weight: 189g
  • Dimensions: 71.5 x 146.7 x 7.4mm
  • Operating System: iOS 14
  • Screen size: 6.1 inches
  • Resolution: 2532 x 1170 pixels (460ppi)
  • Chipset: A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Battery: 2775mAh (rumored)
  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front-facing
  • Starting price: $999

Latest iPhone 12 Pro Max

If you’re looking to pick up one of Apple’s Pro-series of iPhones, this is the device you should really consider. While the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro offer fewer differences than ever before, the iPhone 12 Pro Max makes its difference clear almost immediately: the huge display. At 6.7″, this year’s Max-sized iPhone is the largest yet, with a .2″ increase in display size over 2019’s iPhone 11 Pro Max. That also gives it the largest battery of the four devices, though as we’ve seen across the board, the battery is slightly smaller than what was included in 2019’s iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Surprisingly, Apple’s largest iPhone contains some exclusive camera features that are lacking from even the smaller Pro model. Thanks to the sheer size of the phone, Apple has included a new, larger sensor for the primary wide lens, along with improved OIS that shifts the sensor while moving rather than the entire camera.

The Pro Max’s telephoto lens also features an increased optical zoom, rated at 2.5x rather than 2x. It’s interesting to see Apple pull the Pro Max model away from the smaller iPhone 12 Pro, and considering the starting price is only $100 more than that of the iPhone 12 Pro, it’s hard to justify why anyone would choose the smaller of the Pro devices.

Once again, Apple’s top-end iPhone includes all the standard features we’ve already covered, including the Ceramic Shield front display, MagSafe charging and support for MagSafe accessories, and 5G networking.

Here are the full specs for the iPhone 12 Pro Max:

  • Weight: 228g
  • Dimensions: 78.1 x 160.8 x 7.4mm
  • Operating System: iOS 14
  • Screen size: 6.7 inches
  • Resolution: 2778 x 1284 pixels
  • Chipset: A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Battery: 3687mAh (rumored)
  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front-facing
  • Starting price: $1099

Latest iPhone SE (2nd Generation)

After years of rumors, Apple finally launched a successor to the original iPhone SE in April of 2020, and for better or worse, they were exactly what we expected to see. This new iPhone SE ditches the iPhone 5S design language and instead implements the look of 2017’s iPhone 8, right down to the 4.7″ screen, and the rounded camera bump on the back.

Think of the iPhone SE as an iPhone 8 crossed with an iPhone 11, featuring IP67 water resistance, up to 256GB of storage, an improved camera, and an A13 Bionic processor, all for just $399. Compared to the iPhone 11 series, Apple’s redesigned SE is a cost-efficient option with great power in a smaller frame. Aside from the downgrade on camera, this is an excellent phone for anyone who enjoyed the iPhone 8 or earlier models.

Here are the full specs for the new iPhone SE:

  • Weight: 148g
  • Dimensions: 67.3 x 138.4 x 7.3mm
  • Operating System: iOS 13
  • Screen size: 4.7 inches
  • Resolution: 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Chipset: A13 Bionic
  • RAM: Unknown
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB
  • Battery: 1821mAh
  • Cameras: 12MP single lens, 7MP front-facing camera
  • Starting price: $399

Other iPhones

Apple might have announced four new iPhones in 2020, but that’s far from all the company is offering consumers. In addition to the iPhone SE, the company is continuing to sell 2018’s iPhone XR and last year’s iPhone 11, both at lower prices. Available for $599, the iPhone 11 is a great buy if you don’t care about 5G or high-resolution OLED displays. It was one of the best phones in 2019, and it remains a fantastic phone in 2021, especially at its new price.

Apple is also continuing to offer the iPhone XR at $499, and while it too remains a great phone, the advantages the iPhone 11 offers—better battery life, improved cameras, and a newer processor—make it harder to justify at $499.

Still, if you don’t mind using older hardware, the iPhone XR is a solid phone at a good price, and thanks to Apple’s best-in-class software support, will continue to receive new versions of iOS for at least three more years.

Which iPhone Should You Buy?

This question is harder than ever before. If you want the best of the best and you don’t mind the larger display, the iPhone 12 Pro Max includes one of the best cameras you can find on a smartphone today. Likewise, if you’ve been dying to return to a smaller phone, Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini is what you’ve wanted for years, and it’s an easy buy at just $699.

For everyone else, the similarities between the iPhone 12 and its Pro counterpart make it difficult to choose. If you don’t mind sticking with 64GB of storage, the cheaper iPhone 12 is probably the right bet. But there’s only a $50 price difference between the 256GB iPhone 12 and the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro, and the improved camera on the Pro model is enticing, to say the least.

Ultimately, as always, your final buying decision should likely be focused on your budget. For those stuck between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, your consideration should come down to the cameras. If a telephoto lens is worth the increase in price, the iPhone 12 Pro is the right phone for you; otherwise, you should stick with the standard iPhone 12.

Updated on Sept. 08, 2021, by Steve Larner
Originally posted on April 8, 2021, by William Sattelberg

One thought on “What is the Newest iPhone Out Right Now? [September 2021]”

Beryl says:
thank you for this info. I need a good phone for livestreaming lessons etc. and it looks like the IPro 12 Max would be the one to use or would the IPhone 12 or even the IPhone Mini which I imagine would be easier to handle be able to manage several hours of recording? Where can I purchase one of the above at the quoted price?

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