The best cheap iPhone you can buy in 2021

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The best cheap iPhone you can buy in 2021
The world of Apple is known to be quite the premium place to buy your new phone. However, the fact that the iPhone 12 series starts at $749 for the iPhone 12 mini should not disappoint you: cheaper iPhones are available for those of you who are on a budget.

First off, we need to point out that iPhones are known for their longevity, so even a slightly older model does not mean the phone won’t get the newest software updates out there, and plus, at the same time as Apple’s newest models get them. What's more, an iPhone remains fast for years. Of course, you will have to compromise on some of the flagship features we see these days, but you can still get a good and capable iPhone for less money.

So, without further ado, let's jump into which iPhones we find are the best cheap iPhones you can buy:

iPhone XR


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 two or three more years, which is usually what new Android phones get to begin with. The iPhone XR offers a 6.1-inch LCD display with a more modern look than the iPhone SE 2020. 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.

Apple iPhone XR review

iPhone SE 2020


The iPhone SE 2020 is a great option if you need a cheap iPhone with one of the latest Apple processors (the A13, found in the iPhone 11 series), but you don’t mind its mediocre battery life and somewhat dated design. It looks like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8, offering the same compact form factor, but with a way more capable processor and guaranteed 5 years of software updates. It has a single camera on the back, complemented by powerful computational photography capabilities, that assure the photos are up to par with the competition. The one downside, which to some may be pretty major, is the very disappointing battery life, due to the smaller form factor. The iPhone SE 2020’s retail price is $399; but on major carriers, it’s often discounted and you can even find it for free.


iPhone 11


We include the iPhone 11 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 11, as it’s a powerful iPhone with big battery and a versatile camera system. It comes at a comfortable size with a 5.8-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 11 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 11 series. Check out our article with the best iPhone 11 deals right now.

For more on how these three iPhones compare with each other, you can read our iPhone XR vs iPhone SE 2020 vs iPhone 11 comparison.

Best refurbished iPhone deal


If you don’t mind getting a refurbished iPhone, there are plenty of offers out there. 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 256GB, 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.


Related phones

iPhone 11

PhoneArena Score:

8.5

User Score:

9.0
  • Display 6.1 inches 1792 x 828 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A13 Bionic 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3110 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone XR

PhoneArena Score:

9.0

User Score:

9.3
  • Display 6.1 inches 1792 x 828 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A12 Bionic 3GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2942 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone SE (2020)
  • Display 4.7 inches 1334 x 750 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A13 Bionic 3GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1821 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x

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