Best Cheap iPhones

Our guide to the most affordable iPhones (Hint: The SE is our top pick)

Most Affordable New Phone
Image of iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone SE
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
Starts at $429
Available new
Small
Best Value
iPhone 13
iPhone 13
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
Starts at $599
Available new
Dual camera
Best Mini Option
iPhone 13 Mini product
iPhone 13 mini
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
Varies
Small
Dual camera
Best Throwback Option
Image of iPhone 12
iPhone 12
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
Varies
Recent iOS-compatible
Steeply discounted
Most Affordable Refurbished Phone
iPhone X
iPhone X
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
Varies
Recent iOS-compatible
Face ID
Tyler Abbott
Nov 10, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

Finding a cheap phone, especially a cheap iPhone, can be difficult. To simplify things, we’ve assembled some of our favorite cheap iPhones, new and used, for you to look at.

Best cheap iPhones

What to look for in a cheap iPhone

First of all, cheap iPhones aren’t really a thing. When we say “cheap,” we mean “cheaper than other iPhones,” not “stupendously inexpensive.” You won’t find any iPhones that still work well that are, say, a hundred bucks.

Still, you can save a lot of money when you buy a brand-new phone from a line released a few years ago, a refurbished phone, or a phone from an authorized reseller.

Features to consider in cheap iPhones:

  • Price
  • New, used, or refurbished
  • Available carriers
  • Storage size
  • Battery life
  • Display
  • Size
  • Color

What’s the best iPhone you can get for the least amount of money? That depends almost entirely on what you look for.

Price is tricky for some iPhone models. You know how everyone says you can buy brand-new older iPhones at a discount? That’s true—if you get them from the Apple Store (where you will usually find the best iPhone deals). But Apple only sells a handful of its phone models at a time—for instance, the 15 line, the 14 line, the base 13 model, and the newest SE. If you want something other than that, you usually have to buy used or refurbished.

A used phone is precisely what it sounds like—an older iPhone pre-owned by someone else. A refurbished phone is a used phone that’s undergone some repairs to make it like new. That might include battery replacement, screen replacement, and so on.

Some used or refurbished phones are much cheaper than buying a new iPhone—but some aren’t. Don’t assume that just because you’re looking for an older phone, it will be a better value than the new iPhone 15. That depends on the phone’s model, condition, color, and general demand.

Also, if you choose to buy Ye Olde Apple iPhone over a newer model, be careful who you buy from. A few years ago, a member of the Reviews.org staff may or may not have purchased a spectacular $200 knockoff rose gold iPhone 7 that looked like the real deal in every way… except, according to her phone carrier, it didn’t exist. So ensure you’re buying from an authorized reseller or someone you trust implicitly. And remember, if you see a fantastic iPhone deal, it may be too good to be true.

With iPhones, we don’t worry much about phone carriers. Pretty much every carrier from Verizon to Mint Mobile to Boost Mobile and everything in between accepts iPhones (as long as they’re the genuine article—see above anecdote).

But we worry about storage size, which can make or break your iPhone experience. We recommend buying as much storage as you can afford. If you can’t afford all that much storage, you might be able to take advantage of iCloud+, an inexpensive cloud subscription.

Battery life is also essential. Buying a used, non-refurbished iPhone may cost less, but the battery is likely to be much worse than that of a new or refurbished phone.

Display affects how clearly items appear on your iPhone screen—and it can also affect how well the screen senses your fingertips.

Size will matter a lot to some people and not very much to others. If you like a nice big screen, you’ll want to go for a big phone—but if you like your phone's fun size, an SE or mini is in order.

Finally, color is another one of those items that’s crucial to some but not others. We feel your iPhone color says something about you, but not everyone agrees. Either way, it’s worth looking at the color selection of each model, just in case.

iPhone SE: Most affordable new phone

You can buy a new SE without breaking the bank

The iPhone SE (3rd generation) is the cheapest phone you can get brand-new from Apple right now. This model has considerably trimmed-down features to justify the price, but still, it’s the perfect way to get a new iPhone without ransoming your firstborn.

The iPhone SE is a smaller phone at 4.7” tall. It has a Retina HD display versus the improved Super Retina XDR display, a single-camera system with just 12 megapixels, 15 hours of video playback, touch ID, and an A15 bionic chip that’s the same as the iPhone 13. So not the latest iPhone tech, but not outdated by a long shot.

It also comes in three colors:

  • A shimmering white called starlight
  • A dusky black called midnight
  • A bright red for those who don’t love the film noir aesthetic

Cost-wise, the SE is a beaut. It starts at $429—although, unfortunately, that price comes with just 64GB of storage. The more storage you need, the more expensive the model gets. Still, $429 is about half the cost of the latest iPhone 15, which makes the iPhone SE an incredible deal.

iPhone 13: Best value

The iPhone 13 has a lot of great features but costs less than the newest iPhone

For a great-value iPhone purchase, we recommend the 13, which is well-balanced between features and cost. If you want to pay less than top dollar but still want a close-to-top phone, pick the 13.

The iPhone 13 is the oldest model you can buy brand-new from the Apple Store. It starts at $599 for 128GB storage. While that’s a definite price jump from the SE, for a brand-new iPhone just two models away from the sparkling new 15 line, $599 is a bargain.

The iPhone 13 is a definite upgrade compared to the SE. Apart from double the SE’s starting storage, it has a Super Retina XDR display, a dual-camera system, face ID, and 19 hours of video playback. It’s also a bigger phone, coming in at 6.1” tall.

Have specific color tastes? The iPhone 13 comes in six colors: the SE’s starlight, midnight, and red, plus pale pink, deep blue, and dark green.

iPhone 13 mini: Best mini option

Get an iPhone 13 in miniature with the 13 mini

The iPhone 13 mini is the second mini version after the iPhone 12 mini. It’s been conspicuously absent from later model lineups, so if you’d like a mini model, this is the one to look for.

The mini is a small version of the 13—with a few exceptions. The size, of course; the mini is half an inch shorter than the regular model. It’s less wide, too, by a fraction of a fraction of an inch, and it weighs less. These miniature dimensions are everything if you have small hands, small pockets, or both.

The mini also gets less video playback time—two hours less, to be exact—from which we infer that it also has a shorter-lasting battery.

As for the price, Apple no longer sells this phone directly. You’ll have to go to refurbishers or resellers to buy one. The 13 mini appears to typically retail between $300 and $700.

That’s a big difference. $300 is practically pennies in iPhone terms, while $700 is the same price as a new iPhone 14—though of course, the iPhone 14 has no mini version. If stretching that extra half inch makes your finger bones ache, you’ll be happier with the 13 mini, even if you pay closer to $700.

iPhone 12: Best throwback phone

A phone from just a few years back gets you newer tech for less money

Remember 2020? Of course you do. You might also remember 2020’s new iPhone, the iPhone 12. A resold or refurbished iPhone 12 is the perfect throwback phone right now—old enough to have a nice discount but new enough to still be compatible with recent iOS.

The 12 is a solid phone that’s almost as good as the 13. The main differences are:

  • A slightly less powerful chip
  • A 17-hour video playback (versus a 19-hour video playback)
  • Half the storage capacity to start (64GB vs. 128GB)

There’s also a different color selection: white, black, dark blue, red, light green, and light purple.

Like with the 13 mini, the Apple Store no longer stocks new 12s, so you’ll have to buy elsewhere. We see them retailing between $200 and $500, which is even less than the iPhone SE. Seriously, you can almost buy two of these for the cost of a brand-new SE.

iPhone X: Most affordable refurbished pick

Spend very little for a functional phone with iPhone X

If you have your heart set on an extremely discounted refurbished phone, the oldest model we recommend buying is the iPhone X. Apart from having more staying power than other old models, we’ve seen this phone for sale for about $200.

Why the iPhone X? If you go any lower (iPhone 8), your phone will stop getting the most updated version of iOS sooner. For example, the iPhone 7 isn’t compatible with iOS 17. But the iPhone X and its buddies (iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and XS Max) still have a few years before they reach that particular milestone.

The iPhone X is 5.7” tall and comes in just two colors: white and space gray. Its hardware and software are a few steps down from the 13s, 12s, and even, in some ways, the SE. The chip is a few generations older, the video playback lasts just 13 hours, the phone runs on 4G cellular instead of 5G, and only two storage sizes are available: 64GB and 256GB. But unlike the SE, the X does have face ID and a Super Retina HD display.

Cost-wise, we see refurbished iPhone Xs available from slightly less than $200 up to about $300.

Recap: Which cheap iPhone is right for you?

Look over our five recommendations once more

That was a lot, right? Let’s recap our five recommendations to ensure it’s all clear.

  • The iPhone SE is the cheapest new iPhone around. Just know you may not see some of your favorite features with this one.
  • You can buy a brand-new iPhone 13 for a discounted price, making it a great value.
  • If you prefer a mini phone, a refurbished iPhone 13 mini has almost all the features of the 13, just at a lower price.
  • The iPhone 12 is a solid option from recent years that sells refurbished at a significant discount.
  • If you want an old, cheap iPhone that won’t become obsolete immediately, we suggest the adventurously named iPhone X.

If these iPhones aren’t cheap enough for you, we can help you switch to an Android phone, like the Google Pixel.

But if you have an Apple Watch and Airtags and an Apple TV and an Apple Card and you named your firstborn Apple and you’re just in too deep to leave now, here are some other iPhone model suggestions, like the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro… you get the idea.

Methodology

We took a few different items into account when picking the iPhones for this piece:

  • Price
  • Refurbished or new
  • Available carriers
  • Storage size
  • Battery life
  • Display
  • Size
  • Color

Other pieces about iPhones we’ve written put the product first. In those pieces, we say, “These are the best iPhones, and here’s how much they cost.”

But for this cheap iPhone feature, we flipped that. Price is our primary concern, so we highlighted what you can get when you spend as little as possible.

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

Related Articles

A woman with curly, dark hair and a yellow shirt looks at her phone and smiles
FreeUp Mobile Review
Are you looking for a basic cell phone plan that doesn’t take half your paycheck?...
Boost Mobile Review - Students
Best Internet Plans for Students
We’ve done the research and come up with the four best internet plans for students,...
A mom, dad, and two children sit on a couch and use a laptop together
XTREAM Powered by Mediacom Internet Plans and Pricing Review
XTREAM powered by Mediacom offers solid data speeds and cheap pricing for new customers, but...
A mother looks unhappily at her laptop while her toddler colors beside her
Metronet Internet Review: Customers Call It “Cheap and Reliable”
Is it worth swapping to MetroNet internet? Find out in our review of prices, download...