Best Cheap iPhones 2023

Tyler Abbott
Mar 23, 2023
Icon Time To Read5 min read

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Apple products are notoriously expensive, but you can still get a pretty good deal on the right device. The new 2022 iPhone SE offers tons of bang for your buck for a device under $500. To get your upfront costs even cheaper, you’ll need to look at previous generations of iPhones. For example, you can get an iPhone 12 mini for around $428 from Twigby, which certainly beats the $729 it cost at launch just a few years ago.

The easiest way to get iPhones for cheap is by buying them through different prepaid carriers, like Mint Mobile or Cricket. These carriers regularly offer deals that knock down the price, and you only need to use their service for a few months to get the deal. All of the iPhones we recommend in this article can be purchased through prepaid carriers at a discounted rate.

Best cheap iPhones
Learn more
iPhone SE (2022)$527128 GB
iPhone 12 mini$42864 GB
iPhone SE (2020)$399128 GB

iPhone SE (2022)

pro Fast performance
pro Improved battery life
con Small screen

What we like

The 2022-edition of the iPhone SE gives you the performance of an iPhone 13 at a fraction of the price. You don’t get all the bells and whistles that come with the iPhone 13 (like a Night mode for the camera), but you get the same A15 Bionic processor. That means you can expect best-in-class performance that allows you to run apps to their highest potential. It’s wild that you can easily play games like Diablo: Immortal on a device so compact.

While the old-school design of the phone remains mostly the same compared to the 2020 edition, Apple managed to fit in more upgrades, like improved battery life and 5G reception. Expect your 2022 iPhone SE to last upwards of 12 hours on a full battery with heavy usage and to take less than an hour to fully charge back up again. Due to the A15 Bionic processor, everything runs more efficiently on your device.

What we don’t like

The 2022 iPhone SE only comes with a 4.7-inch LCD panel with a non-HD 1344 x 750 pixel resolution—hardly the screen that Denis Villeneuve would want you to use to watch Dune. If you struggle with your eyesight, or want a better picture for streaming, the iPhone SE doesn’t give you a top-notch display.

On the other hand, some people select the SE specifically for its small size. If you don’t use your phone for lots of streaming or gaming, you’ll appreciate how easily this device fits in your palm and pocket.

What cell phone plans can I get with the 2022 iPhone SE?

You can get this device with any carrier you can think of. Here are the most popular cell phone plans that pair with the 2022 iPhone SE:

iPhone 12 mini

pro Design features like Face ID and full display
pro More advanced camera than the iPhone SE
con Older processor

What we like

The iPhone 12 mini and 2022 iPhone SE fall pretty close in price, but offer different experiences. Whereas the iPhone SE still looks like a phone from five years ago, the iPhone 12 mini includes the latest design features.

The iPhone 12 mini doesn’t dedicate any of its display to a home button, so you can enjoy the full 5.4-inch OLED without the annoying bezel. You also don’t need to worry about cheeto fingers preventing you from accessing your phone thanks to the Face ID feature. Long story short, if the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE battled in a beauty contest, there’s no doubt that the iPhone 12 mini would run away with the prize.

Speaking of beauty contests, the iPhone 12 mini camera also outclasses what the iPhone SE offers. The iPhone SE only gives you a single 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide camera, whereas the 12 mini features two lenses:

  • 12-megapixel f/1.6 wide camera
  • 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultra-wide camera

And that’s just the rear-facing camera. The selfie camera on the 12 mini has a 12-megapixel sensor that shoots 4K video at 60 frames per second. The iPhone SE only comes with a 7-megapixel sensor on its selfie camera.

If your eyes glazed over in that last paragraph (I don’t blame you), just know that the iPhone 12 mini takes more detailed pictures than the iPhone SE.

What we don’t like

The catch with any iPhone 12 series device is that the processor isn’t as new as what you find with the iPhone 13 series and 2022 iPhone SE. From what we’ve tested, it isn’t a massive leap in processing power from the 12 to the 13 series, but you can notice about a two hour difference in battery life. Since the 12 mini doesn’t run as efficiently, your battery drains more quickly.

What cell phone plans can I get with the iPhone 12 mini?

Even though the iPhone 12 mini isn’t the newest phone on the block anymore, you can still get one through most major cell phone carriers. Take a look at the most popular cell phone plans that include the iPhone 12 mini:

iPhone SE (2020)

pro Same performance as iPhone 11
pro Affordable
con Older processor
con Older design

What we like

The original iPhone SE was the cheapest phone Apple has ever launched, and it’s only gotten cheaper since then. The iPhone SE has the same processor (A13 Bionic processor) that you would find in the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. Of course, it’s been a few years since the iPhone 11 was released, so this version of the iPhone SE isn’t the fastest horse in the race anymore, but it’s still a solid device.

Since Apple will discontinue production of the iPhone 2020, it’s safe to assume that leftover devices in the marketplace will continue to drop in price. Keep an eye on that price, and maybe look at the second-hand market to get a cheap iPhone SE (2020).

What we don’t like

The iPhone SE is basically a Frankenstein: it has the body and camera of an iPhone 8 (which is nearly a six-year-old phone at this point), but the insides of an iPhone 11 (only a three-year old phone). Judging from outside appearances, the phone can look a little dated compared with its home button and bezel taking up so much of the screen. But if you can get a good deal for the 2020 iPhone SE, it will still work well for you.

What cell phone plans can I get with the 2020 iPhone SE?

You likely won’t find any 2020 iPhone SE devices from major carriers as they’ve moved on to the 2022 version, but you can find awesome deals for the 2022 iPhone SE from Cricket and Tracfone:

Keep an eye out for iPhone deals

Another option for getting a cheap iPhone is by hopping on a deal from a major carrier. No doubt you’ve seen all the commercials (I’ve seen the Kate McKinnon Verizon ad one million times) saying you can get a free iPhone 13—you just have to jump through some hoops first. To get a free iPhone from a major carrier, you’ll need to check off these boxes:

  • Sign up for an unlimited plan (or upgrade your unlimited plan if you’re an existing customer)
  • Trade-in your old phone
  • Agree to a two-year contract

If you’re down with all three of those things, you can absolutely get an iPhone 13 for free. Here’s what the offerings look like from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile:

Recap: Best cheap iPhones 2022

Apple doesn’t really do “cheap,” but you can still get good deals on awesome devices if you know where to look. Here’s our picks for the best cheap iPhones:

  • iPhone SE (2022): The latest version of the iPhone SE has the guts of an iPhone 13, and the look of an iPhone 8. If you’re okay sacrificing style for substance, you can get the iPhone SE for under $500 upfront, or you can go with a payment plan.
  • iPhone 12 mini: The iPhone 12 mini has recently dropped in price due to the release of the iPhone 13 mini. You can get an iPhone 12 mini for under $600 (or even cheaper if you find a deal like this one from H20 Wireless).
  • iPhone SE (2020): The 2020-version of the iPhone SE has the same processor as the iPhone 11, and still works perfectly well in 2022. You can get the iPhone SE for as cheap as $99.99 from a carrier like Cricket.

Wi-Fi helps every phone, no matter how old

Even if your phone doesn't have the strongest specs in the world, a solid Wi-Fi connection will make streaming YouTube and watching Instagram Stories a seamless experience. Seriously, it's probably better to have a strong internet connection than it is to have the best processor chip in the world.

These are our picks for the best internet providers that will hook your phone up with speedy Wi-Fi while you're at home.


To find the best cheap iPhones, we looked at the current prices from different carriers and measured the specs of each device. We narrowed down our recommendations to three picks based on price and performance.

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.

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