The iPhone is a series of hugely popular smartphones designed by Apple. As of this writing, Apple sells six iPhone models that differ in size, power, and price.
This article explains the six models, their common features, and their differences to enable you to distinguish them and choose among them.
Understanding the Six iPhone Models
As of this writing, Apple sells six iPhone models:
iPhone X, introduced in 2017.
The iPhone X has the largest screen of the iPhone models and very thin bezels around the screen. The front camera, flash, and microphone are inset in the middle of the top edge of the screen. In the name, X is pronounced as “ten” rather than the letter.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, also introduced in 2017.
The iPhone 8 Plus is physically larger than the iPhone 8.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, introduced in 2016.
As with the iPhone 8 models, the iPhone 7 Plus is physically larger than the iPhone 7.
iPhone SE, introduced in 2016.
The iPhone SE is the most compact iPhone. All of the iPhone models except the iPhone X have the Home button, a physical button for navigation, below the screen. The iPhone X uses gestures instead of the Home button.
Understanding the Common Features of the iPhone Models
Each iPhone comes with the Apple EarPods headset, which incorporates a remote control and a microphone. For all current iPhone models except the iPhone SE, the Apple EarPods headset connects via the Lightning connector, and the iPhone comes with a Lightning‐to‐3.5mm headphone jack adapter for connecting analog headphones via the Lightning port.
For the iPhone SE and most earlier iPhone models, the headset connects via the headphone socket. Each iPhone includes a USB power adapter and a Lightning‐to‐USB cable. Each iPhone uses a nano‐SIM card to connect to cellular networks. Each iPhone except the iPhone X has a Touch ID fingerprint reader.
Each iPhone runs iOS 11, the latest operating system from Apple, which comes with a suite of built‐in apps, such as the Safari web browser and the Mail e‐mail app. The iPhone X models come in two colors: black, which is matte rather than glossy; and silver.
The iPhone 8 models and iPhone 7 models come in five colors: jet black, which is glossy; black, which is matte; silver; gold; and rose gold.
The iPhone SE comes in four colors: gold, silver, space gray, and rose gold. The iPhone X has dual 12‐megapixel cameras on the back and a front‐facing camera with extra features that enable the Face ID authentication and unlocking system.
The iPhone 8 models and the iPhone 7 models have a 12‐megapixel main camera on the back and a 7‐megapixel camera on the front.
The iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus also include a second camera unit to enable optical zoom and other features. The iPhone SE has a 12‐megapixel main camera and a 1.2‐megapixel front camera.
Compare the iPhone X with the iPhone 8 Models
The iPhone X has the biggest screen of any iPhone but is physically smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. To achieve its compact size, the iPhone X has much slimmer bezels than the iPhone 8 models. On the iPhone X, the front camera module, speaker, and microphone are inset into a cutout in the top of the screen, whereas on other iPhone models they are located in the top bezel above the screen.
Unlike other iPhone models, the iPhone X has no Home button below the screen. To unlock the iPhone X, you use the Face ID authentication feature, whereas on other current iPhone models, you use the Touch ID fingerprint recognition built into the Home button.
To display the Home screen on the iPhone X, you swipe up the bar from the bottom of the screen, whereas on other iPhone models, you press the Home button. Compare the iPhone 8 Models with the iPhone 7 Models The two iPhone 8 models, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, have faster processors than the corresponding iPhone 7 models, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Although each model has a 12‐megapixel main camera with the same aperture settings, the cameras on the iPhone 8 models feature improved True Tone flash with a feature called Slow Sync for more even lighting with flash. The iPhone 8 models and iPhone 7 models have a Home button that features haptic feedback to simulate being pressed without moving.
By contrast, the iPhone SE has a physical Home button that actually presses in. The iPhone 8 is fractionally bigger and heavier than the iPhone 7; the iPhone 8 Plus is fractionally bigger and heavier than the iPhone 7 Plus.
These differences are almost imperceptible but may mean that tight-fitting cases for iPhone 7 models do not fit iPhone 8 models and vice versa. Compare the iPhone Plus Models with the Regular Models The iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus are physically larger than the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 and have higher‐definition screens that may enable you to see greater detail in photos and other high‐definition content.
As well as being larger, the iPhone Plus models are somewhat heavier than the regular models; but if you are deciding between the Plus model and the regular model, your main consideration is likely to be whether the device will fit comfortably in your hand and your pocket or purse.
The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus have a dual‐camera module on the back rather than a single‐camera module, as the other models have. One camera has a 28mm wide‐angle lens, while the other has a 56mm telephoto lens to provide optical zoom, which gives higher image quality than the digital zoom provided by enlarging pixels via software.
The Plus models also have a Portrait Mode for photos that blurs out the background to emphasize the subject; the iPhone X also has Portrait Mode. All of these models have optical image stabilization to minimize camera shake. If you shoot many photos and videos, you may find this feature useful.
Apart from physical size, you should consider the storage capacity of the iPhone model you are thinking of buying. Having more storage enables you to install more apps and carry more music, movies, and other files with you. Having plenty of storage is especially important for shooting videos with your iPhone.
Compare the iPhone SE with the Larger iPhone Models
The iPhone SE is physically smaller than the iPhone 8 model and the iPhone 7. Its 4‐inch screen has lower resolution than the screens on the larger models. It processor, an A9 model, is relatively powerful, but less powerful than the A10 Fusion processor on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which in turn is less powerful than the A11 Bionic processor on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
While the rear camera on the iPhone SE has the same 12‐megapixel resolution as the camera on the iPhone 8 models and iPhone 7 models, the front camera on the iPhone SE has a relatively low 1.2‐megapixel resolution.
All of these iPhone models have a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that enables you to use the Apple Pay service to make payments from your iPhone.
Evaluate iPhone Storage Capacity
The iPhone models are available with different amounts of storage capacity. The diagram shows sample amounts of contents. The iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus come in 64GB and 256GB capacities.
The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone SE come in 32GB and 128GB capacities. Higher capacities command substantially higher prices, so you must decide how much you are prepared to spend. Generally speaking, higher‐capacity devices get more use in the long run and are worth the extra cost.
Understanding the 3D Touch Feature
The iPhone X, the iPhone 8 models, and the iPhone 7 models include a feature called 3D Touch that provides shortcuts to content and to frequently used actions for the current item and context.
3D Touch uses force sensors in the screen to detect when you press the screen firmly rather than just tapping it.
For example, you can press an app icon on the Home screen to display actions for that app. For instance, press Maps ( ) to display the pop‐up menu for the Maps app.
You can then tap a button in the Maps Destinations box to get directions to upcoming appointments, tap Mark My Location to mark your location, tap Send My Location to share your location with a contact, or tap Search Nearby to search for businesses or other places near you.
3D Touch uses two actions, Peek and Pop. Peek enables you to get a preview of content by pressing it briefly. Pop opens the content when you press harder. For example, you can press an e‐mail message to display a preview of its content using Peek. If you want to open the message, you press harder until the Pop action opens the message.
Understanding the Reachability
Feature iOS includes a feature called Reachability to help you use your iPhone with one hand when necessary. With the Reachability feature enabled, double‐tap Home — double‐tap rather than double‐press — to slide the screen down so that you can easily reach the top of it.
After you give a command, the screen slides back up again; if you decide not to give a command, double‐tap Home again to slide the screen back up. To enable Reachability, first tap Settings ( ), tap General ( ), and then tap Accessibility. Toward the bottom of the Accessibility screen, tap Reachability to display the Reachability screen, and then set the Reachability switch to On ( ).
Understanding the Live Photos Feature
All of the current iPhone models include a feature called Live Photos that enables you to capture short sections of video before and after a still photo. After capturing the Live Photo, you can make the video segments play by tapping and holding the photo.
You can view your Live Photos on other Apple devices, such as your iPad or your Mac. You can also use a Live Photo as the wallpaper for your iPhone’s lock screen.