The best cheap iPhone you can buy in 2024

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Best cheap iPhone
The world of Apple is known to be quite the premium place to buy your phone... or pretty much anything (remember the $19 polishing cloth?) However, the fact that the base iPhone 15 start at $799 is not a reason for panic: believe it or not, cheaper iPhones exist for those of you who are on a budget!

Let's clear something out first - Apple doesn't exactly have a dedicated budget-friendly or "affordable" iPhone. Even the SE is not actually budget-friendly, per se. Actually, the way you can get a cheap iPhone is to go for a slightly older model. 

But that's not half as bad as some people might think. The great thing about iPhones is that even if you go for a two or three-year old model, it will be up to date with the latest iOS version. This is because iPhones are known for their longevity, and models are supported for up to 5 years after their release (and remain fast for years, as fast as they were when they were released!)

If you choose to go that route, you will have to compromise on some of the flagship features we see these days though (like fancy camera lenses or cinematographic video features), but nonetheless - you can still get a reliable, fast and capable iPhone for less money.

We're here to help you with finding the best cheap iPhone that's available right now and spare you some digging. Now, let's get to business!

Best cheap iPhones you can buy in 2024, summarized list:

iPhone XR

Best quality/price ratio overall right now
Apple iPhone XR

Apple iPhone XR

View full specs

The iPhone XR makes the head of our list for a reason. Despite being the oldest of the recommended, released in October 2018, it currently holds the title of the best cheap iPhone with its overall great balance between quality and price. Its guaranteed software updates for around a year now, and it's getting iOS 17 (the OS that the latest iPhone 15 phones run). The iPhone XR offers a 6.1-inch LCD display with a more modern look than the iPhone SE 2022.

The iPhone XR has a 12MP camera and a 7MP selfie shooter, capable of producing good photos for your social media or to share with friends. Its processor, despite being a bit older, is still fast and capable and the phone offers a lag-free experience. Currently, the iPhone XR is available for purchase on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, and unlocked from Apple, with a retail price of $499. 

iPhone SE 2022

The cheapest compact iPhone with 5G right now
Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The Good

  • Affordable price
  • Light, thin and compact
  • iPhone with a button classic vibe
  • 5G connectivity with C-band support
  • Super fast processor
  • Camera is great for day shots, video

The Bad

  • Feels dated
  • LCD screen instead of AMOLED
  • Screen feels too small for a modern phone
  • Battery life is improved, but still below average
  • Camera lacks night mode, has no ultra-wide lens
  • Only 64GB base storage

The iPhone SE 2022, released towards the end of 2022, is a good option if you need a cheap iPhone with 5G, as well as one of the powerful Apple processors (the A15, found in the iPhone 13 series). However, it is not exactly much different from its predecessor, the iPhone SE from 2020, and it pretty muck looks like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8. But yeah, those phones don't have 5 years of software updates or 5G.

The SE has a single camera on the back, complemented by powerful computational photography capabilities, that assure the photos are up to par with the competition. Apple has even improved upon its battery life and the new SE now sports a slightly bigger battery cell which gives around 2 hours of additional video playback over the previous SE.

iPhone 13

If you have a slightly bigger budget
Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13

The Good

  • Much improved battery life
  • Dynamic and jolly photos in more challenging conditions
  • Easy to view outdoors display with perfect calibration
  • Snazzy Cinematic video mode
  • Double the predecessor storage for the same price

The Bad

  • Slow display refresh rate for the price point
  • Wired and wireless charging take comparatively long
  • Cinematic video mode is finicky without good lighting
  • Taller notch eats into some video formats
  • Worse value for money ratio than the iPhone 13 Pro

We include the iPhone 13 here, although it’s not the cheapest iPhone out there with its retail price of $599. However, if you have a slightly bigger budget, you should definitely consider the iPhone 13, as it’s a powerful iPhone with big battery, 5G, and a versatile camera system. And it's now dropped $200 thanks to having two successors already. And Apple still sells it.

The iPhone 13 comes at a comfortable size with a 6.1-inch display: not enormous, but not small either, and its battery life is way better than the iPhone SE or the XR. What’s more, the iPhone 13 has two cameras on the back: a main and an ultra-wide camera, which offer great photo quality, hardly distinguishable from some of the most recent iPhones out there.

If you’re willing to deal hunt, you can save even more with carriers offering discounts on the iPhone 13. Check out our article with the best iPhone 13 deals right now.

Best refurbished iPhone deal

Another way to get a cheap iPhone is to go for a refurbished model. Refurbished iPhones are used iPhones that have been renewed to look and work like new, and they are often found discounted at big retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon. Even without a discount, the refurbished iPhones' prices are usually significantly lower than the new variants.

Right now, Amazon is offering a renewed iPhone XS, fully unlocked, that is also covered by Amazon’s Renewed Guarantee, assuring you have 90 days to return it and get a refund or replacement if you’re not satisfied.

iPhone XS Refurbished, Unlocked: get it for cheap

The renewed 64GB iPhone XS is now available at Amazon with a big discount. This means you can get this very capable device for less than a regular midrange or affordable phone. And on top of that all, it comes with Amazon Renewed Guarantee.

Want to check out some more iPhone deals?

Sometimes, even new iPhones get generous discounts and are available at a bargain, especially with trade-in or carrier plan. If you're interested, check out the articles below:

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