[SOLVED] : iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone SE 2…: which iPhone to choose at the start of 2021?

Do you want to buy an iPhone in 2021? There are many models on Apple’s official online store, but ultimately the best products easily stand out. Especially since the prices do not change much from one year to the next. Numerama guides you to find the iPhone that suits you.

The iPhone buying guide in summary

  • iPhone 12 (€ 909): the default choice this year, you can’t be disappointed
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max (€ 1,259): the choice for image professionals
  • iPhone 12 mini (€ 809) or iPhone SE (€ 459): a small iPhone

Why trust us ?

We test all Apple products for Numerama and use them on a daily basis, in addition to diligently and technically covering all aspects of the brand.

Since 2020, Apple’s iPhone strategy has been complex, as many models are in the catalog. There are the 4 latest generation references (12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max), the 2020 iPhone SE, but also the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR. To make matters worse, this year, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max do not only have a difference in size, but also in on-board technology on the photo side. This complicates the equation a little bit, because last year, we could say that the very top of the range was available in two sizes.

That said, looking at the prices of these items and spending time on the entire iPhone lineup, we know exactly which iPhones to recommend in 2021.

  • To read : IPhone 12 test

If you are determined to opt for a new iPhone this year, this guide will help you in your thinking. And so that you can see it more clearly, we have decided to break down this overview according to your uses – the safe bet that we recommend is easily identifiable, if you have no time to waste.


This year, the iPhone 12 has it all. We find it all at the same time an absolute elegance with its square edges, high-end characteristics (excellent photosensors, MagSafe induction charging, 5G, A14 processor engraved in 5 nm, etc.) and nothing too far behind. to the iPhone 12 Pro. If you really need a zoom and LiDAR then maybe you will be tempted by the higher end options, but these uses are very specific and will not change your daily life. The iPhone 12 already has one of the best cameras on the market and films in 4K HDR Dolby Vision.

This is why this year, the iPhone 12 is our default choice. You will not regret your purchase for a second and you will have the latest trendy technologies, in a durable smartphone that will be kept up to date for at least 5 years. The battery life is better than on the 12 mini and the screen is the same as that of the iPhone 12 Pro. In short, this is probably the iPhone you want. It can be found new from € 909.


The iPhone 12 Pro offers a disappointing technical proposition this year: the most high-end components are reserved for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. So it is he that we keep for our guide, when last year, we recommended the iPhone 11 Pro. The 12 Pro Max is based on the same basis as the iPhone 12 and adds several elements perfectly suited to image professionals who do not use a reflex camera.

  • 5x optical zoom
  • 12x digital zoom
  • Portrait in night mode thanks to LiDAR
  • 4K HDR Dolby Vision recording at 60 frames per second
  • Optical image stabilization by moving the sensor to the wide-angle
  • Apple ProRaw lossless format

Compared to the 12 Pro, the 12 Pro Max wins the battle for sensors, with larger lenses able to capture more light and therefore take better shots in dim light. The results, in practice, are astounding. The stabilization of the main lens on magnets is also a notable innovation of this generation, reserved for the Pro Max range. In short: if you have the arguments to need a 12 Pro over a 12, you will undoubtedly prefer the 12 Pro Max this year. It can be found from € 1,259.


2020 marks the big comeback of small smartphones. And that’s good. Unlike other manufacturers, Apple has chosen not to really discriminate on the diagonal of the screen and this year offers two models perfectly suited to small hands and small pockets.

Rediscovering the feeling of a smartphone that fits really well in the hand is also quite exhilarating, in the era of large and heavy smartphones. Even though Apple can’t break the laws of physics and cram more battery cells than the case allows: the 12 mini and the SE 2 don’t have the same range as larger smartphones – they still hold up. one day in normal use. They are also less pleasant for multimedia uses.

On the one hand, the iPhone 12 mini is a clone of the iPhone 12, with a 5.4-inch screen. Two small details change however: the fast inductive charging which is not as fast and, as we have pointed out, the autonomy a little less good. It remains one of the most powerful smartphones in the world and one of the best in photo and video of its generation. It unlocks with Face ID facial recognition and benefits from all of Apple’s privacy protection measures. It can be found from 809 €.

Longer and narrower, the iPhone SE 2 is above all a smartphone of choice for entering the Apple galaxy without breaking the bank. With a price starting at 459 €, it is a colossal competitor to mid-range offers on Android. It embeds one of the fastest processors in the world (the A13 of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro) to display games and applications on a 4.7-inch screen. It is also the last iPhone in the range to be unlocked by Touch ID, on the finger – perhaps an argument in these days of wearing the mandatory mask. It’s clearly not the iPhone to buy if you like having the latest tech in your pocket, but it’s not a sub-iPhone either. Far from there.


Don’t buy an iPhone XR in 2021. The object is aging and much too expensive for its services. It’s unclear why Apple continues to display it in the lineup. If you find it on sale around € 300, why not, but beyond that, tell yourself that a 2020 iPhone SE is better equipped – if you omit Face ID.

The iPhone 11, still sold by Apple, is a great smartphone. But at € 689, it’s a bit expensive compared to an iPhone 12 or a competing Android smartphone. It is not clear who this range would target in 2021.

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