Even experienced users can find it hard to tell some iPhones apart. Apple updates the iPhone every year, but it doesn’t always change the design – sometimes the significant changes are on the inside, such as faster new components. You might be thinking that if you look on the back of an iPhone you will see its name etched into the case, but no, Apple doesn’t even inscribe iPhones with “Designed in California” any more. This can make it very difficult to identify which model you’ve got.
There are various reasons why you might need to know which iPhone you have. Not everyone walks into an Apple shop to buy the latest model. You might have been handed down an iPhone from a family member who was unclear about which model it is, in which case you might be wondering if it would be a good idea to update the iOS on it. This can be an issue, because only certain models can run the latest version of iOS.
Or you might want to know which iPhone you have because you’re planning to sell it and you want to advertise it properly. Alternatively you might be the one buying a used iPhone, in which case you will want to make sure you aren’t paying more than you should.
One issue might be that you can’t actually turn on the iPhone to check what model it is. To address that we discuss how to tell what iPhone you have without turning it on along with other ways to find out what iPhone you have.
If you’re struggling to identify one of your other Apple devices, we also have guides to finding which iPad you have and which Mac you have. Read on to find out how to tell which iPhone you have.
Option 1: Find out which iPhone you have in iPhone Settings
The simplest way to tell which iPhone you have is to open up Settings.
How to find the iPhone name in
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to General > About.
- In the top bank of entries you’ll see Model Name, which tells you exactly which iPhone model you have.
- Scroll down to check the capacity of your iPhone, which is something you will want to share if you are thinking of selling it.
Option 2: iPhone model number check
Below Model Name you will also see Model Number in Settings. This can tell you a little more than the name of the device.
This is actually a little confusing because the number that is displayed by default is actually the part number – it begins with an M. If you pop that part number into a search engine it will tell you exactly which model you have including capacity and colour.
This part number is also known as the SKU – and if you’ve got a replacement model it’ll probably start with an N.
There’s a huge number of possible M numbers – far more than we can list here. Check the iPhone Wiki for a full list.
How to find an iPhone part number in Settings
Here’s how to find that iPhone part number in Settings.
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to General > About.
- Below Model Name you will see Model Number.
Option 3: Find your iPhone’s A number
The easiest way to identify an iPhone if you couldn’t turn it on used to be to check the ‘A’ model number that was etched onto the back. But Apple hasn’t printed A numbers on the back since the iPhone 7. If you have a recent model, or find the number too small to read, there are other ways to identify the iPhone A number, which we will discuss below.
This model number can give you useful information like the country it was sold in – which may be important for warranty reasons. Another reason you might need to know which region the iPhone was intended for is that not all iPhones support the same cellular bands (for example only the US models support the 5G standards sub‑6 GHz and mmWave). Some regional iPhone models don’t support Dual SIM or Dual eSIM or even Dual Nano SIM. Other regions disable certain features – such as FaceTime Audio in China. Other regions insist that their iPhones come preinstalled with certain apps.
How to find the A number
If you have an older iPhone – iPhone 7 and earlier) – you will see this identification number printed on the back. It is a small number that starts with the letter A, and is labelled ‘Model’. It’ll be something like “A1203” or “A1634”.
When we say “small number” we really do mean small, and you may find it hard to read the number with the naked eye. A magnifying glass will help if you’ve got one!
How to find the A number in the SIM tray
There is another way to find the A number if you can’t turn your iPhone on and it’s not on the back, but you may need a magnifying glass!
Assuming you have one of those tools for removing a SIM tray handy pop it out and look very carefully at the slot where the SIM card goes and you can see the A number.
How to find the A number if it’s not on the back
However, the iPhone 8 and later do not have this number printed on the back. If you can’t find anything here you at least know that your iPhone is an iPhone 8 or later.
If your iPhone doesn’t have anything etched on the back then you will need to turn to Settings again.
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to General > About
- Tap where you see Model Number.
- The Model Number section will now reveal the A number.
Once you have identified the A number pop it into a search engine and you can find out which region the iPhone is from.
Option 4: Identify iPhone by sight
If you simply can’t turn the iPhone on to check Settings for the information above, don’t worry. You can still tell which kind of iPhone you’ve got by checking its build, external features and so on. Simply compare it against this guide, which includes all models of iPhone.
If you’re trying to identify a bricked device or one you can’t unlock, this visual identification guide section is for you.
Introduced in 2021, the iPhone 13 shares that same design language as its predecessor the iPhone 12, but there are a few easy ways to differentiate them.
The iPhone 13 has squared edges, a glass back, and a 6.1-inch display. The notch at the top of the panel that houses the Face ID camera is shorter than on previous models, but the easiest way to know if it’s an iPhone 13 is to turn it over and look at the camera section. Here you’ll see two lens that are positioned diagonally from each other, rather than one on top of each other as per the previous generation. The colours are different from the iPhone 12: there’s purple, blue, green, red, white and black this time around.
iPhone 13 mini
The iPhone 13 mini is practically identical to the iPhone 13, but as the name suggests it’s a bit smaller.
As with its larger sibling you’ll find the squared-off edges, glass back, but this time the display is a more diminutive 5.4-inch. You’ll know its a mini as soon as you pick it up, because this remains the smallest iPhone in the Apple catalogue (along with the iPhone 12 mini). Again, the easiest way to tell its an iPhone 13 mini is the diagonally arranged cameras on the rear.
iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro is very similar to the iPhone 12 Pro, making it a little tricky to spot which is which purely by looking at them. But, there are a couple of key indicators.
The iPhone 13 Pro features the same metal construction and matt glass back as on the iPhone 12 Pro, with only a few different colour options to separate them. The 13 Pro comes in Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue and Alpine Green, with the lighter blue and green liveries exclusive to this generation. The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display is again the same, but the 13 Pro has a shorter notch at the top of the screen. On the back there are three cameras, making it immediately apparent that this is a Pro model and not the standard two camera model (above). The iPhone 12 Pro also has the same lay out of three cameras, but they take up less space on the back than they did in the previous generation.
iPhone 13 Pro Max
The flagship iPhone has some jaw dropping specs and appointments, with a few things that make it easy to identify.
You can tell an iPhone 13 Pro Max by its huge 6.7-inch display, the biggest available on iPhone. There are squared-off edges on the metal frame, while the rear panel is a textured matt glass that makes it less slippery than some other models. A triple camera array on the rear lets you know that it’s a Pro, as these are the only iPhones that get so many lenses. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max shares many of the same design cues as the iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple did introduce the new green and lighter hues of the Sierra Blue colour schemes as an option on the 13-series and shortened the length of the Face ID camera notch at the top of the display.
iPhone SE (3rd Generation)
The ‘budget’ iPhone was revamped in 2022 with the arrival of the iPhone SE (3rd Generation), but it retained the same form factor as the model that arrived in 2020. If your iPhone has a Home button chances are it’s an iPhone SE – but which one?
In fact it looks like many of the phones that came before Apple introduced the iPhone X with the famous 4.7-inch LCD display and Home button arrangement that is instantly recognisable the classic design that Apple has continued to recycle for the best part of a decade. Since it debuted on the iPhone 6 in 2014, the form factor has remained almost unchanged.
The SE (3rd Gen), which arrived in 2022, tweaks things a little compared to the predecessor by adding a slight variation in the colours used. Admittedly they are basically Red, Black and White, which is the same as the iPhone SE (2nd Generation), but the hues have been toned down a little. Admittedly, it’s practically impossible to tell the difference between them unless you know the precise colours, so you’ll be better served checking the software route outlined above to identify the model.
The iPhone 12 arrived in 2020 and, like all the 12-series handsets, has sharp, squared-off edges rather than the curved edges seen on the 11-series and many earlier models. It has a 6.1in screen (with a notch), two camera lenses on the back and no Home button, and comes in black, white, red, light green, dark blue and purple (pictured). The key difference between an iPhone 12 and 13 is the layout of the cameras – the iPhone 12 cameras are laid out one on top of the other, the iPhone 13 cameras are diagonal.
iPhone 12 mini
The 12 mini looks just like the iPhone 2, but has a smaller 5.4in screen (also with a notch at the top) and the same square, sharp-edged sides as the rest of the 12-series handsets. It hasn’t got a Home button.
It has two camera lenses on the rear, but these sit to the left of a larger square camera module; there’s a small flash on the righthand side of this. (You can see what this module looks like in the picture of the iPhone 12.) The back is glass.
iPhone 12 Pro
The iPhone 12 Pro was launched in 2020 and Apple stopped selling it in 2021. It was easy to identify by its combination of triple camera lenses on the rear, sharp, squared-off edges and a 6.1in screen. It came in silver/white, gold, black and dark blue (aka Pacific Blue).
The camera lay out was similar to the iPhone 13 Pro, but there’s a difference in terms of the size of the square the lenses are placed on. The iPhone 12 Pro camera section is smaller than that of the iPhone 13 Pro.
iPhone 12 Pro Max
The iPhone 12 Pro Max looked just like the Pro, but it was a whopper, with a 6.7in screen and triple camera lenses on the rear. There’s a notch at the top of the screen and no Home button, and the edges are sharp as on the rest of the 12-series handsets. As with the 12 Pro and 13 Pro, the way to tell if your’s is a 13 or 12 Pro Max is the size of the area where the camera lenses are laid out: the section is smaller on the 12 Pro Max.
Three iPhone 11-series models were released in autumn 2019. The cheapest of these was the iPhone 11 (there was no iPhone 11 mini).
The 11 looked the same as the iPhone XR from a year earlier, with curved edges rather than the square ones on the iPhone 12 or 13 ranges. It had two cameras on the rear, arranged in a vertical configuration within a square block.
The iPhone 11 came in white, black, green, yellow, purple and red, and had a plastic rather than a glass casing. It also had a 6.1in screen with no Home button.
iPhone 11 Pro
There are a few differences between the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro – most notably the latter had three cameras on the rear. The material it is made from was also different
You can tell the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max apart because the Max is bigger. The 11 Pro has a 5.8in screen (measured diagonally, from corner to corner) and measures 144mm x 71.4mm.
iPhone 11 Pro Max
The 11 Pro Max also had three camera lenses on the rear, but features a 6.5in screen and measures 158mm x 77.8 mm.
iPhone SE (2nd Generation)
Apple revived the popular SE in 2020, but it was less compact than its 2016 predecessor. This time Apple put (most of) the components of the iPhone 11 in the curved-edge chassis of the iPhone 8.
It has a 4.7in screen and a single camera lens on the rear. It had a Home button with Touch ID built in, and the back was glass.
A tricky one, this, because the iPhone XS looks identical to the iPhone X. What are the possible giveaways? It came in a new colour – gold – and offered a 512GB storage capacity at the top end, if you’re somehow able to determine that without having access to the Settings app.
Other physical upgrades from the X are essentially impossible for a consumer to check. The glass back was reinforced to make it less to prone to cracking, and the waterproof rating was increased from IP67 to IP68, but in neither case should you test to destruction simply to identify your phone.
iPhone XS Max
The XS Max, like the XR, can be identified by its screen size, which was a mighty 6.5in. Bear in mind that this should be measured between the theoretical corners where the screen edges would converge if the corners weren’t rounded off, if that makes sense. Anyway, it’s a big old screen – that’s what we’re telling you.
Like the other X-series handsets it hasn’t got a Home button, and its screen has a notch at the top. It came in silver, gold and Space Grey.
The iPhone XR has a 6.1in screen, but that’s also true of the iPhone 11, 12 and 12 Pro. More helpful, then, are the three facts that it didn’t have a Home button, had a notch, and came with a single camera lens on the rear.
The iPhone X was the first iPhone to not have a Home button on the front, with the screen coming down almost to the bottom of the chassis. It had a ‘notch’ taken out of the top of the screen, and had two cameras on the back arranged vertically.
The iPhone X came in just two colour options – silver and Space Grey. The iPhone XS which looks virtually the same as the X and may present some identification issues.
It came in black, white, blue, yellow, Coral (a sort of orangey peach) and red.
The iPhone 8 was a lot like the iPhone 7: it too has a 4.7in screen and no headphone jack. The main difference from the 7 is that this model has a glass back rather than aluminium; if there’s no A number engraved on the back that too may be a giveaway, because it was at this point that Apple phased that out.
Still not sure? The 8 came in 64GB or 256GB storage options, whereas the 7 came in 32GB, 128GB or 256 GB; check Settings > General > iPhone Storage and see if you can eliminate one of the options that way. And finally, whereas the 7 came in black, gold, Rose Gold, silver, red and the ridiculously shiny Jet Black, the 8 only came in silver, Space Grey, a pinkish gold and red.
iPhone 8 Plus
This one is a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus: the 8 Plus had a 5.5in display and a twin-lens camera protruding slightly from the back. And there was no headphone port.
But the back was glass instead of aluminium, there wasn’t an A number engraved on the back (our UK model just says “iPhone/Designed by Apple in California/Assembled in China”), the storage options were 64GB and 256GB (as opposed to 32GB, 128GB and 256GB on the 7 Plus) and the colour options were silver, Space Grey, red and the new pinky gold. No shiny Jet Black here.
The iPhone 7 had a 4.7in screen, with a glass front and aluminium back. It was similar to the 6 and 6s, but slimmer, and the back of the body lost the horizontal lines at the top and bottom. It did not have a headphone jack at the bottom: there was just a single Lightning port in the centre of the bottom edge, with speaker grilles either side.
Check the entry for iPhone 8 above, because that is very similar; the main difference is that the 7 has an aluminium back, whereas the 8 has a glass back.
It was available in six colours, and was the first iPhone to come in red.
iPhone 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 Plus was unsurprisingly similar to the iPhone 7 – the main difference is the larger 5.5in display. As with the 7, it boasted a glass front and metal back, which the camera protruded from slightly. It was also available in six different colours, including red (not shown below). And there was no headphone port.
In fact, the real giveaway was the horizontal twin-lens rear-facing camera: here’s what it looked like:
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s
The 6-series handsets saw a full redesign, with rounded-off edges replacing the squarer look of previous phones. The screens were larger than earlier models, too: they measured 4.7in diagonally. The Plus models had still larger screens, of course.
Here’s what the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s looked like. Below you can see is the iPhone 6s – you can tell because it came in pink as well as the silver, gold and Space Grey offered by the iPhone 6.
Assuming you’re not lucky enough to be looking at a pink (technically Rose Gold) model, which is a dead giveaway, look for the letter S on the back, below the word iPhone. (It’s visible in the image above.) This indicates that it’s an iPhone 6s, fairly obviously.
iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus look like the iPhone 6 but were much larger, with 5.5in displays (measured diagonally). They had room for six rows of icons on the Home screen, plus the dock row.
Again, only the 6s Plus came in Rose Gold, and the S model was designated by a letter S on the back, below the word iPhone.
iPhone SE (2016)
The original iPhone SE used the same colour scheme as the iPhone 6 product line, but had the same design elements of the iPhone 5s. Your best bet to identify between a 5s and SE is to turn the iPhone on or look for the SE stamp at the back.
It should also be noted that the SE came in Rose Gold, whereas the 5s only came in Silver, Space Grey and Gold.
The iPhone 5s looked largely identical to the iPhone 5, but the giveaway was the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
If you look at the Home button, you’ll notice that it no longer has a square on it – it’s just a plain circle. On the white-front models you can see a shiny metal ring around the edge; the black one is entirely black.
The colour schemes are also different, with Gold, Silver and Space Grey replacing Black and White.
This one’s easy to spot. The iPhone 5c came in a range of bright plastic colours and had a curved plastic back. The iPhone XR seems to have been inspired by this one.
It’s also taller and squarer than other plastic models (such as the iPhone 3G and 3GS), so it’s easy to identify.
The iPhone 5 looked similar to the iPhone 4 and 4s, but came with a taller 4in display (measured diagonally, corner to corner). This means it can fit five rows of app icons (plus a sixth, the dock row, at the bottom), whereas the iPhone 4s and earlier could only fit four rows (plus the dock). Here’s what it looked like:
iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s both hada glass front and glass rear and came in black or white. Here’s what they looked like:
It’s hard to tell the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s apart, unfortunately. One possibility is to look for a SIM tray on the righthand side – if you can’t find an opening then you’re looking at (the CDMA version of) the iPhone 4, which was available both with and without a SIM tray. The iPhone 4s always has a SIM tray.
You can also check the storage capacity, which may offer a clue. The 4 was sold in 8, 16 and 32GB capacities; the 4s was available in all of these but also added a 64GB model. Check Settings > General > About, and if Capacity is any higher than 32GB then you’ve got an iPhone 4s. (It won’t be the full 64GB, of course, because some of the advertised capacity is taken up with firmware and the like.)
iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS
If your iPhone has a curved plastic rear but without the black band from the original iPhone, you’ve got an iPhone 3G or 3GS. This is what they look like:
One way of telling these two apart is colour – if it’s white, you’ve got a 3GS.
Both models were sold in a black finish, however, so if you’ve got one of those, check the shininess of the detailing on the back. On the 3GS, the Apple logo and the imprint below are the same shiny silver; on the 3G, the imprint is less shiny than the logo.
The original iPhone from 2007 is easy to identify. It has a grey/silver rear with a large black band across the bottom. It looks like this:
For more advice on the various handsets that Apple sells, take a look at our iPhone buying guide. And if you’re looking to pick up a bargain on your next handset, check our roundup of the best iPhone deals.
Source : Macworld