LOOKING to buy a brand new iPhone this year? You’ve got loads of options – but it can be confusing.
There are more iPhone models out in the wild than ever before, and the tech on board gets more complicated by the day.
If you’re keen to bag a new iPhone for yourself or a loved one this Christmas, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying the right model.
We’ve put together a quick guide detailing the key differences between models – so you can tell if you
First, make sure the person you’re getting an iPhone for actually wants one.
If they’re a long-time Android user, they might find it annoying to switch to iPhone.
Not only will they have to learn a new system, but they’ll have to re-acquire lots of apps and content – and may even lose some personal data in the process.
iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11
First, you’ll want to decide which generation of iPhone you’re going to buy.
The letters and numbers can be confusing, but here’s the basic order in recent years, from most to least recent:
- iPhone 13 – 2021
- iPhone 12 – 2020
- iPhone 11 – 2019
- iPhone XS / XR – 2018
- iPhone X – 2017
- iPhone 8 – 2017
- iPhone 7S – 2016
Apple has also released two “cheaper” models under the iPhone SE brand – one in 2016, and the other in 2020.
In terms of iPhone design, we’ve had a squared-off look since the iPhone 12.
Before that, the big change was with the iPhone X, which introduced the all-screen design and the “notch” at the top of the display.
This also added Face ID face scanning, removing the old Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
5G is also important to consider – it’s more widely available from networks now, but isn’t support by any model older than the iPhone 12.
There have been significant camera improvements each year, but even the iPhone X still produces very good images.
Storage got a bump with the iPhone 8 (from 32GB to 64GB), and then again to 128GB with the iPhone 13.
All models are fast and performant, but you’ll have better longevity with newer models – as it’ll keep pace with newer apps for longer.
And bear in mind that Apple doesn’t support iPhone models forever.
So if you want to keep getting updates in five years, you’re better off buying a newer iPhone model.
Buying a very old unit like the iPhone 8 means you run the risk of missing out on updates in the near future.
Updates are great for acquiring new features, but they’re also important for security protections.
So really consider buying a newer model if you’re conscious of security – and plan on holding on to your iPhone for a few years.
The key improvements between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 are mostly around the camera and its performance in low light. The storage boost is also great.
iPhone vs Mini vs Pro vs Pro Max
The iPhone 13 comes in four versions: regular, Mini, Pro and Pro Max.
Apple did the same for the iPhone 12, but the iPhone 11 only came in regular and Pro options.
The iPhone XS launched alongside the bigger iPhone XS Max, and the trimmed-down (and cheaper) iPhone XR.
And the iPhone 8 was also available in a bigger Plus variant.
Generally the more expensive units have bigger screens, and typically (though not always) more powerful specs.
The main defining factor is whether you want a regular model or a Pro variant.
Apple’s Pro models are typically several hundred dollars/pounds pricier, but come with significant improvements to the camera – and then usually a few extra features, like a better screen.
This year, the iPhone Pro and Pro Max are basically identical in terms of performance – with size being the only differentiator.
Similarly, the iPhone 13 Mini is a downsized version of the iPhone 13 proper.
So really, you’ll want to work out which size is right for you – and then whether you want a bigger or smaller phone.
Apple has such a wide range of handsets on offer, so you’re bound to find something that fits your style.
Buying an iPhone – new, used or refurbished?
Of course, you don’t have to buy a new iPhone at all.
There are advantages to a new model, including a totally fresh battery.
But you can also get Certified Refurbished models from Apple, as well as a number of retailers.
These are iPhones that have been used – or perhaps only unboxed – and then restored to a “like new” condition.
You can usually save a few hundred dollars/pounds by opting for a refurbished model.
Buying a used iPhone is cheaper still, but also riskier.
You can’t always tell what the condition of a used iPhone is, or how it’s been treated.
And opening it up to check inside isn’t really an option like it would be with a used car.
So while buying a used iPhone can save your money, make sure you’re buying from a trusted reseller – or through a service that can compensate you if a scammer strikes.
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