Which iPhone should you buy?

It's a question as old as time... assuming time started back in 2007

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in a cave, covered by an enormous Faraday cage, you’re probably more than aware that Apple has outed two new iPhones.

Yes, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus have arrived with fresh paint jobs and an array of improvements which should leave diehard Apple fans drooling. However, as is always the case with Apple products, they also come with a hefty iPricetag.

But before you put your mum on Ebay in a bid to raise funds, wait - because Apple's also leaving last year's iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the line-up. And, with the smaller iPhone SE also available, that means there are plenty of cheaper options for anyone wanting to upgrade from a really old iPhone or thinking about jumping ship from Android. 

So should you splash the cash to buy the best? And if so, do you get the 7 or 7 Plus? Or is one of the older phones a better fit for you anyway?

Here's our take on the whole shebang.

iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? (from £519 / £719)

Jumping straight into it, the biggest difference between the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus is the screen size and the camera.

The 7 Plus is a very pretty, but also rather large slab of smartphone, thanks to its large 5.5in screen. So, if your skinny jeans or dainty hands aren’t up to navigating its vast digital expanse, then this contest is already over - the standard iPhone 7 is the one for you.

If you can handle its size, however, then its larger screen is better suited to playing games, reading, browsing and, well, pretty much most things really. Flip both handsets around though, and there’s another substantial difference…

It’s pretty clear that the iPhone 7 Plus has something a little extra in the camera department - that double lens bulge is pretty hard to miss. Before we delve into that supersized snapper though, let’s talk standard camera.

Both handsets pack in a 12MP 28mm, f/1.8 camera, with optical image stabilisation (OIS). This is complimented by Apple’s new quad-LED True Tone flash, which is 50% brighter than past iPhone flashes.

Breaking all this down, the standard cameras on both new iPhones are excellent, which will come as no surprise to you if you’ve ever rocked an iPhone yourself. The OIS on the iPhone 7 is a first, and a definite win, letting it catch up with its larger sibling with noticeably better performance in low light.

So then. Back to the second camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. It too is a 12MP camera, albeit with an f/2.8 56mm lens, and it’s there to zoom zoom zoom.

The combination of both lenses, coupled with Apple’s clever software tricks, enable iPhone 7 Plus users to zoom in up to 2x optically and 10x digitally. You'll get far less noise than regular smartphone digital zoom - and no quality loss whatsoever when using the optical zoom.

If you’re big on smartphone photography, then, this is a killer feature - and one that’s definitely worth paying a premium for.

In other important comparisons, the iPhone 7 Plus also has the better battery life out of the two. With all else being equal (power, iOS 10 tricks etc), then the iPhone 7 Plus really is the iPhone to get if you want the best iPhone ever made, period.

Buy the iPhone 7 Plus if... you want the best iPhone ever made

Buy the iPhone 7 if... you want a smaller iPhone at a slightly cheaper price

What about the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? (from £499 / £599)

If you don’t want to fork out a ton of cash for Apple’s latest iPhones, that’s perfectly fine. The iPhone 6s is still a formidable handset with plenty to offer.

While it doesn’t come in the fetching Jet Black or Black colours of its newer sibling, it still looks as sleek and sexy as ever.

Its camera, too, is still one of the best smartphone snappers around, scoring very highly in Stuff’s reader-voted smartphone photography comparison test.

The iPhone 6s Plus’ only real advantage over the 6s is the fact that its identical rear camera has OIS, for improved performance in low-light conditions. Oh, and obviously, its larger screen is better for viewing media too.

The A9 chip working away beneath the hood of both 6s handsets may sound old hat compared to the shiner, faster A10 chip, but it’s still a beast, and it’ll churn through apps and games for years to come.

If you’re not particularly fussed about the slight improvement offered by the iPhone 7’s OIS-laden camera - and the slight increase in battery life - then the iPhone 6s remains an excellent choice.

The iPhone 6 Plus is pretty much in the same boat. If you want a larger iPhone but don’t want to fork out a whopping £719, then you can’t go far wrong, as long as you’re sure you’re not going to get 10x zoom envy.

Buy the iPhone 6s if... you want an almost-iPhone 7, for less money

Buy the iPhone 6s Plus if... you who want a larger iPhone for a fair amount less

What about the iPhone SE? (from £379)

Last, but not least - well, technically least in terms of physical size - we have the rather cute Apple iPhone SE.

Essentially, the SE has the internals of the iPhone 6s, packed into the body of an iPhone 5s. That means you’re getting the same excellent 12MP camera and beefy A9 processor, in a handset with an extremely manageable 4in screen. Adorable, eh?

That screen will be an absolute godsend to small-handed gadgeteers, but the price is where the SE really shines. If you can stomach 16GB of storage, £380 for what is essentially an iPhone 6s (minus 3D Touch, which is arguably not that useful anyway), is a cracking deal.

A price of £430 for the 64GB isn’t a shabby deal either, and if you’re rocking an aging iPhone or Android handset then this could very well be the dark horse choice for you.

Buy the Apple iPhone SE if… you want a tiny no-compromise handset at a cracking price

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