08 December 2020

Which iPhone Should You Buy? iPhone 12 To iPhone SE
6 Minutes BY The Three Team

Back in 2007, Apple changed consumer electronics forever with the launch of the first iPhone. It’s become one of the world’s most popular range of mobile phones and 13 years later and the latest iPhones follow the same simple recipe, the latest tech wrapped in must-have design available at a hefty premium. This year’s launch the iPhone 12 Series is no different with four gorgeous new phones.

Negotiating Apple’s handset line-up can be daunting, so we are here to help cut-through the nonsense and help choose the right iPhone for you with some in-depth iPhone comparisons. If you've already bought your new phone, check out some of our helpful iPhone guides to get you started.


Understanding the current line-up

While the iPhone 12 is the latest handset, older models are still available. The good news is that they’re less expensive. Not only that, Apple will continue to support them, meaning that when you buy any new iPhone you’ll continue to receive updates for years to come.

While you can even buy refurbished pre-used iPhones, today we’re just going to look at which brand new iPhones  you can buy.

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone Xr
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 7

So which one should you choose?  We’re going to help you find the answer by comparing the models and diving into the features on offer.


What Is The Best iPhone?

 We get asked this on a daily basis. Unfortunately the answer is that it depends. On paper, the best iPhone is the iPhone 12 Pro Max but is that the best iPhone for you? Are you paying (handsomely) for features that you don’t need.

Best iPhone For Photography

Apple’s camera tech keeps getting better. This is down to both hardware and software improvements which have culminated in this year’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. While these are both remarkable smartphone cameras, the entire Apple smartphone range offers something for everyone.

What Photography Specs To Look Out For In Your iPhone

There are a handful of camera features to look out for when it comes to picking your iPhone from the lot when it comes to photography. 

The Camera Layout

Across the iPhone range, you’ll find different camera layouts. When it comes to the primary rear camera, the iPhone 7 and iPhone SE have single-camera setups. The iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 have dual cameras while their Pro-variants have triple camera arrays.

The Chipset

The chip that powers it all is important. This is because Apple combines hardware and software to capture great photos. The latest chip is the A14 Bionic which powers the Apple iPhone 12. Last year’s A13 Bionic is also seriously impressive and is found in the iPhone 11 Series and the iPhone SE 2020. For capturing great photo’s look for an iPhone with one of these chips.

Portrait Mode

Portrait Mode is a really popular style of photo (also known as a bokeh style or filter). This is where the subject of your photo, your friend for example, is clear but the background is blurred. This used to require dual cameras limiting its availability but Apple has developed a software workaround meaning that it’s available on the single-camera iPhone SE along with all dual and triple-camera iPhones.


The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

While all iPhones offer something great in the way of photography, there can only be one winner. Or maybe two winners. Both the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max share a lot of specs but their cameras actually are slightly different. While they both share the same Pro-grade triple-camera systems and share the same Ultrawide and Wide-angle lens specs, the telephoto cameras on the two phones is slightly different. 

Telephoto Lens Spec iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 Pro Max
Aperture ƒ/2.0  ƒ/2.2
Zoom In 2x optical 2.5x optical
Zoom Out 2x optical 2x optical
Zoom Range 4x optical 5x optical
Max Digital Zoom 10x 12x

The iPhone 12 Pro Max also features Sensor-shift optical image stabilization which doesn’t feature on the iPhone 12 Pro. Sounds like double-dutch? Then the Pro models might not be for you.  The iPhone Pro and Pro Max are for people who want to push their photography to the next level. For everyone else, the rest of the iPhone range offer more than enough photographic firepower.

Thanks to Apple’s approach to combining software and hardware to make taking great photos easier, every iPhone will take lovely pictures, right down to the iPhone SE. The 2020 iPhone SE is a small phone which leans heavily on the A13 Bionic chip to process photos and is the same chip which powers the 2019 iPhone 11 Pro flagship smartphone.


The Best Small iPhone: Comparing iPhone SE and iPhone 12 Mini

For years, smartphones have been getting bigger and bigger. We were all consuming record amounts of content so smartphone manufacturers assumed we wanted bigger screens. Not necessarily true. So if you’re looking for a smaller handset packed with features, we’ve got you covered.

  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 12 mini

Let’s compare the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini.


This seems a sensible place to start. As the name suggests, the iPhone 12 mini is smaller. But don’t let that trick you. 

Still not sure? If you want the very best iPhone camera pick either the iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you want a great camera while grabbing a bit of a bargain, check out the iPhone 11. Looking for great shots but want a smaller form phone? Then the 2020 iPhone SE is the phone for you.

While the iPhone 12 mini is smaller than the iPhone SE, it’s actually got the bigger display. This is down to the phone having a greater screen-to-body ratio. This means as you look at the phones, the iPhone SE has more “frame” than the iPhone 12 mini. The result is the iPhone SE having a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 12 mini having a 5.4-inch display. Phew!


iPhone cameras rely on both software and hardware and both iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini have some key differences in both areas. The iPhone SE has a single primary camera using the A13 Bionic chip and it’s still capable of taking some great photos. The iPhone 12 mini does pack a little bit more punch with dual primary cameras powered by the A13 Bionic.


Compare iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini

Below is a table comparing some of the most sought after features of the two most popular “little” iPhones. 

  iPhone SE iPhone 12 mini
Screen Size  4.7-inch 5.4-inch
Phone Size 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3 mm 131.5mm x 64.2mm x 7.4 mm
Primary Camera 12MP Single Camera 12MP + 12MP Dual Camera
Selfie Camera 7MP 12MP
Processor A13 Bionic A14 Bionic
Battery 1821 mAh 2227 mAh

For a more in-depth comparison, look for the two phones in our shop and clip “Compare” below them for a full comparison.


Apple And Chargers

One thing to take note of, especially if you’re buying iPhone as a Christmas present, is that not all iPhones come with power adapters. So, what is in the iPhone box? Whether it is the iPhone 7 or the iPhone Pro 12 Max, to reach environmental goals, Apple doesn’t always include a power adapter or EarPods in the box. They do include a USB-C to Lightning cable and they encourage you to use existing hardware if you can. If you need a charging brick, check out our accessory store.


The Best Value iPhone For Sale

The tricky thing about questions on value is that this comparison is often a personal one too. For example, if you can make money from shooting photos and video on your iPhone the iPhone 12 Pro Max will pay for itself. The point here is that the best value iPhone is often down to what you’re looking for. Here’s how we rank our range of iPhones.

iPhone 7

iPhone 7 has been around the longest and is therefore the least expensive. This is the value entry point into the world of Apple and lets you enjoy the world of Apple at a lower price. 

iPhone SE

If you want something a little newer the iPhone SE is a fantastic choice while keeping the price down. The specs are really impressive too when you consider the iPhone SE has the same processor as the iPhone 11 Pro in the A13 Bionic chip. While this phone has some one of the smaller batteries in the iPhone range, you should still get a full day of battery life (depending on usage) and can still get up to 50% charge in 30 minutes if you buy a 20W power adapter.

iPhone 11

There’s a long-standing belief that the best time to buy an iPhone is just after a newer model launches. It’s not always true but of course, but you’re still getting a fantastic phone at a reduced price.

The best thing to do is visit our shop and compare the two phones to see if the iPhone 12 has enough new features to justify the premium or if the 2019 iPhone 11 really is the best value choice for you.

iPhone 12

One final consideration when picking your iPhone is what offers are available. 

Right now, if you want to join Three from another Irish mobile network you can get the iPhone 12 for free on our €59.02 per month plan. The iPhone 11 is €99 on our €44.27 per month plan, a tempting offer.

Explore iPhone with Three.

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