The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphone ranges in the world and for good reason. Ever since Steve Jobs introduced the first ever iPhone back in 2007, Apple’s handsets have been synonymous with high quality, fast speeds and premium tech. And with every new iPhone that comes out, there are notable improvements to the software, the camera and the design to make each new handset more desirable than the next.
So, if you’ve decided you want an iPhone of your own, it might be worth considering more than just the latest model. There are plenty of iPhone options out there, and all of them are sure to live up to expectations. And with the latest iPhone handsets, the range is more inclusive than ever with a variety of mid-range budget options available.
It’s a fair question. There is no other handset around that is as hyped as a new iPhone. Every year when Apple releases a new range of handsets, it brings the hyperbole about how they are the best handsets around. Many Android users would debate this, but there is certainly merit to the claims.
Here are some areas to think about when looking for a new iPhone
Design: the iPhone is instantly recognisable anywhere, offering a simplified, cleaner look that was revolutionary when it first released, and still maintains that appeal. A range of colours as well as an endless line of officially licensed accessories like covers and cases have made it a popular fashion statement as well as an impressive piece of tech that appeals to the masses.
Operating system: the iOS operating system is exclusive to Apple. This means Apple has locked it down and controls the look and feel of the operating system. It also makes sure that older devices can access the new iOS update (to a point). Android on the other hand is a baseline for an operating system and is open to manufacturers adding their own spin. Some people prefer this but it means Google has given the control of its OS away to others.
Synchronicity: There’s a reason the term ‘Apple fanboy’ exists. Once you’ve made the switch to Apple, you may find it hard to go back. The iOS will sync with your other Apple products such as your Mac, iPod or iPad so you can have all your files available on any device. Not to mention they all look pretty great together too.
App Store: The Apple App Store is one of Apple’s most lucrative services, giving the user endless ways to personalise their phone with your choice of games, tools, messengers. Like iOS this is closely guarded by Apple which means that ehre is a decent amount of quality control going on with the App Store.
Camera: The iPhone is well known for its quality cameras. That’s not to say iPhones are the best cameras out there. Samsung and Huawei are particularly famous for their excellent smartphone cameras. But the iPhone is generally seen as the go-to choice for creatives and influencers. It plays a huge part in any of Apple’s iPhone marketing campaigns and the recent iPhone 12 range (as of December 2020) has added even more pro camera features to the handsets.
Ben Gallizzi, Money.co.uk's Energy Expert, can't remember the last non-Apple phone he had:
"My experience as an Apple user has largely been a positive one, barring an issue where I was inexplicably locked out of my Apple ID account, which affected my iPad and MacBook as well as my phone. I think I’m locked in for potentially the rest of my life given the suite of Apple products I have, and my disinterest in learning how other manufacturers and operating systems work. But it’s a realisation I’m fine with."
Ben Gallizzi, Money.co.uk Energy Expert
If you are already familiar with Apple’s products, and maybe already own a few, then getting an iPhone is something of a no-brainer. The handsets are all of a high quality, the operating system is slick and easy to use. Apple prides itself on its devices seamlessly integrating, so buying into Apple is really buying into its whole ecosystem.
An iPhone will always be a premium buy. Its handsets, even the cheapest, are on the high side when it comes to cost. You will be able to get more for your budget elsewhere, so if you are not worried about buying into the Apple ethos, then there are plenty of Android handsets around that are worth considering and, for the price, will match and sometimes surpass some of the iPhone’s features.
Apple’s iPhone line-up is always in a state of flux and long gone are the days when you can second guess which handset Apple will ditch next in favour of its new line-up. Saying that, Apple has trimmed its iPhone line-up of late (as of December 2020), offering a broader range of prices.
The latest iPhone is the iPhone 12 range. This range consists of four handsets. They are:
iPhone 12 Mini
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max
With so many models around, you should first see which ones you can still get your hands on. Major network providers such as Three, O2, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media will certainly have a full menu of models and plans for the following generations of iPhone:
You may also find a good selection for the following models:
The older iPhones are also relatively easy to find refurbished. This means they’ve been used before and are traded in by customers who want to upgrade. These phones are usually carefully checked and reset to factory conditions so you can get a like-new phone for a very good price. The following network providers offer refurbished phones:
With so many options, it might be tough to pick the best iPhone for you, especially as every generation comes with more than one version. As a general rule of thumb, every line comes with the following variation:
Mini: this is a new section for iPhone and was announced with the iPhone 12 range. It is the standard iPhone 12 in a smaller chassis. All other features are the same.
Standard: The core product of the line e.g. iPhone 12
Pro: As with the iPhone 12, a Pro model is now available, which offers improved features such as more camera functions, better display and a different size
Pro Max: A larger version of the core product often with an additional feature such as an extra camera or improved display e.g. iPhone 12 Pro Max.
As mentioned, the easiest way to find a cheap iPhone is by going the refurbished route. Prices vary depending on the condition of the phone, as well as the model, but you can usually hope to save at least £50 off the very latest releases this way.
The price of a refurbished iPhone is based on general demand as well. A refurbished iPhone 11, for example, will still be a long way from cheap, but an iPhone XR may well be available for around £350 - £150 off its original price.
They certainly can be, so long as you manage your expectations. Older models have, obviously, been around for longer and are therefore less likely to be in anything like near mint condition. That said, shops and suppliers won’t resell a phone that doesn’t meet certain standards. That means you can usually expect perfectly good operating system performance but might need to accept some cosmetic wear and tear.
You should also compare specifics. For example, do you want an iPhone 12 simply to have the latest model or because you’re after the best camera? A refurb can save some money, but if you look closely at the specs, you may get equally as good camera performance out of a previous iPhone.
If you want a brand-new iPhone, you’ll likely be looking at a pay monthly contract. You can get iPhones on pay as you go, but again, this depends on the model. The iPhone 11, for example, may be difficult to find, and even more difficult to afford on a SIM-free deal. You can get refurbished phones on a pay monthly contract too. The following providers all offer a good selection of pay monthly iPhones:
As mentioned, the very latest iPhones may be difficult to find on a handset only deal. Most providers prefer to keep them on pay monthly, not least because, for most customers, an outlay of £700 – 1000 just isn’t realistic. Having said that, the following providers do offer SIM free iPhones:
Again, this depends on your circumstances. If you can comfortably afford to pay anything between £300-1000 on your new phone, then you may want to buy it outright. That said, you should look carefully at all your options. Often pay monthly deals are usually a little more expensive and you are locked into a contract for what can be a very long time. However, within that period, with major providers at least, you also get perks such as:
Customer discounts and freebies
Bundled deals e.g. home broadband or Sky TV
That’s not to say you can’t get some or all of these things on a SIM only deal, but providers tend to keep their best perks for pay monthly customers.
If you travel a lot and like to use local SIM cards, for example, being locked into a provider’s contract and handset isn’t ideal. But if that same provider covers your travel destinations with roaming, then this is less of an issue.
Last updated: 19 March 2021