Best Cheap iPhone iMore 2021
The iPhone SE is the best iPhone to buy if you're looking to save a little money, but not compromise on speed or functionality. With most of the features of Apple's newest flagship onboard, it has a lot to offer both people looking to upgrade an older iPhone and people looking for their first iPhone.
Best Overall: iPhone SE
The 2020 iPhone SE looks nearly identical to the old iPhone 8 as it has the same casing and camera array, which is part of why the price is so dang low. The initial R&D cost of the chassis was paid off long ago, so Apple can keep the cost low while adding the most advanced processor.
That's right; the iPhone SE has the same A13 Bionic chip that you'll find in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, meaning not only are you getting the same power and speed, but you can also likely expect the same support for new updates for years and years to come.
Touch ID is as useful, quick, and versatile as ever.
There's no denying that opting for an iPhone that has Apple's old design has a few drawbacks when you compare it to the iPhone 11. You're not getting an OLED display, the TrueDepth selfie camera, or the near bezel-less design, but in honor of saving $, the iPhone SE still has a lot to offer.
While you may not have Face ID on the iPhone SE, you do have Touch ID, which is still as fast, useful, and versatile as ever. You can have more than one fingerprint on record, making it easy to unlock your phone regardless of how you hold it or pick it up, and it's lightning-quick; just pressing on the Home button and you're iPhone is ready to use.
The 12MP single-lens camera on the back of the iPhone SE may seem like a huge downgrade from the dual-camera system that Apple's newer phones are rocking, but testing them side-by-side you're likely not going to notice too much of a difference. If you look closely, you may see some slightly better handling of shadows on small objects in the frame, and maybe some slightly better textures on the iPhone 11. However, when it comes to having a great camera in your pocket, the iPhone SE is more than good enough to satisfy most people.
Last but not least, the screen may only be LCD, but the 1334-by-750 resolution running at 326 pixels per inch still looks really smooth and feels great to watch videos, surf the web, view Instagram, and more. It's still sporting Apple's True Tone display, which will help the iPhone white balance your display to the lighting around you to help with eye-strain, and the color — while not as vibrant as an OLED display — still looks rich and full.
- Newest A13 Bionic chip
- Camera takes great photos
- $300 cheaper than iPhone 11
- Touch ID
- Wireless charging
- Old big-bezel design
- Single-camera setup
Water-resistant, wireless charging, and an A13 Bionic chip.
While it may lack the new design of Apple's newest iPhone, the iPhone SE still offers an all-glass design that allows for wireless charging, has an IP67 rating, and the newest A13 Bionic chip will ensure the iPhone SE is supported for years to come.
Best with Face ID: iPhone XR
The iPhone XR features quite a few upgrades over the iPhone SE, including the new design, even bigger display, Face ID, and dual-SIM support, but still has some of the same features like wireless charging, and LCD display, and a single rear-facing camera. The iPhone XR is a great option for those who don't mind spending a little more to get a more updated and modern looking device.
- Face ID
- Newer small bezel design
- A12 Bionic chip
- Only $100 cheaper than iPhone 11
- Single rear camera
Best with Face ID
Face ID, TrueDepth selfie camera, and minimal bezel design.
If you're looking for that new design look that offers an edge-to-edge display, Face ID, and the TrueDepth front-facing camera that allows you to take portrait mode selfies, the iPhone XR is the cheapest way to do it.
Best Fully-Featured iPhone: iPhone 11
The iPhone 11 is at least $300 cheaper than the iPhone 11 Pro but carries much of the same functionality. Both, for example, have the same A13 Bionic chip with a third-generation Neural Engine. Each model also has a front 12MP TrueDepth camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture and Retina Flash. Other identical features include 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, and 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide camera lenses on the back of each device.
We know that the iPhone 11 is brand-spanking new, and that means when it comes to a budget device, it likely will be too expensive for a lot of people; however, if you think you have the extra dough to afford it, it is an option worth considering.
- A13 Bionic chip
- Ultra wide-angle camera
- Multiple color options
- Pretty expensive
When it comes to getting an iPhone, it's very easy to assume you might need to shell out a ton of money to get a decent phone, but that's definitely not the truth. The iPhone SE is going to serve most people needs without making their wallets cry,
It's still speedy enough to do all the browsing, photo-taking, and social media interacting that you would want to do every day, and iOS 13 and many future updates run perfectly smooth on an iPhone SE. By going with an older design, you will lose out on a couple of things that come along with the design of the newer iPhones, but you'll still have wireless charging, and you get the added benefit of not having to lose TouchID! We have rounded up all the best iPhone deals here if you are looking to try and save a bit of cash on your purchase as well.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who has been carrying around an iPhone since he was old enough to buy his own, but he also has a knack for spending his hard-earned money wisely.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. He knows everything, literally everything, there is to know about the iPhone.
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and knows here way around an iPhone. She's known as the four-inch iPhone fan (R.I.P.).
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