What iPhone should I get?

With Apple launching their yearly iPhone refresh tomorrow many people are asking what iPhone they should get, if any. Apple will be selling four new iPhone 13 models tomorrow, as well as several older models. While the iPhones have not seen a huge leap forward in many years it is because the product is mature. Long gone are the days where everyone upgrades every year or two. Most people now replace their iPhones every 3 to 5 years. iPhone batteries continue to become more reliable, they are more resistant to drops and liquid damage, and the computer chips inside are advanced enough that they can keep up with software updates for many years to come. They are designed to last more than any other smartphone. So if you have an iPhone 11 or 12 but the 13 doesn’t “wow” you it doesn’t need to.

But that said, if you have an older iPhone (iPhone X or especially an iPhone 6, 7, or 8), these small changes over the years really add up! If you are considering a new iPhone my advice is to always get the latest model if you can. It will last you the longest because it’s more advanced and more durable. But there are some options I’d recommend considering if you are budget conscious.

If you want to compare the specs of any iPhone models from the past several years, you can use Apple’s comparator tool.

The prices I’m mentioning below are full retail price. But your carrier may offer some substantial deals especially with trade-in offers.

iPhone 13 mini

Starts at $699 with 128GB of storage. This is the phone for the casual iPhone user, the person who doesn’t want big distractions, or someone with smaller hands. It fits easily in any pocket and is the least expensive of the iPhone 13 line. However, the biggest complaints are that the screen is a bit small for some, especially if you have trouble with vision, and that the battery life is shorter. Most people will need to top off their charge throughout the day.

iPhone 13

Starts at $799 with 128GB of storage. This is the iPhone for most people. It’s big without being too big for most pockets.

iPhone 13 Pro

Starts at $999 with 128GB of storage. This is the iPhone for the photographer. It is identical to the iPhone 13 in shape and size, but it has higher graphics processing abilities, smooth “ProMotion” display, and an upgraded camera. Specifically, it adds a telephoto lens and LiDAR sensor for 3D mapping of objects and spaces or for faster focusing.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Starts at $1,099 with 128GB of storage. This is the iPhone for people who want a powerful tiny tablet computer or who need the largest screen possible to help with their vision. Apart from the larger screen and longer battery life, this iPhone is essentially identical to its smaller sibling, the iPhone 13 Pro.

iPhone 12

Starts at $699 with 64GB of storage. This is an iPhone I don’t recommend at this point. With half the storage capacity as the iPhone 13, upgrading to 128GB of storage brings up up almost to the same price point. Compared to the iPhone 13 it’s going to become obsolete a year sooner, it has less battery life, it’s less durable, and the screen will be more difficult to see outdoors. It might save you $100 but I really don’t think the trade off is worth it if you have to replace it sooner.

iPhone 11

Starts at $499 with 64GB of storage. If you’re looking for an affordable iPhone with an edge-to-edge screen this might be the one to consider since it’s $300 less than the new iPhone 13. Just keep in mind that you are missing two years of updates to the battery, camera, and durability, and that it will probably become obsolete about two years earlier.

iPhone SE

Starts at $399 with 64GB of storage. This is phone I recommend when people are very cost-sensitive. Basically, this iPhone has the guts of an iPhone 11 but the body of the iPhone 6/7/8. Which does mean that it’s physically much less durable than one of the recent models, but hey, it’s a great price. The screen is much smaller than an iPhone 13 mini, but the body is almost the same size as the standard iPhone 13 because of the huge “chin” and “forehead”. It also has by far the worst battery life of any iPhone Apple currently sells. Just keep in mind that an iPhone 13 will cost twice as much but will probably last you twice as long. An iPhone 13 mini might be a better deal when you consider cost per year of use.