Which iPhone Should You Buy (or Avoid) Right Now?

Which iPhone Should You Buy (or Avoid) Right Now?
Written by Techbot

So you’re wondering which iPhone is best for you. We’re here to help you separate the marketing slogans from reality—we’ve tested all the latest models and outlined their strengths and weaknesses here, from the iPhone 13 Pro Max to the iPhone SE 2022. However, it’s best to wait right now. Apple will be unveiling its next generation of iPhones, presumably called the iPhone 14 series, on Wednesday, September 7. That doesn’t just mean exciting new smartphone—it also means existing and prior models will see lower prices. Our iPhone buying guide can help you make a decision. 

Be sure to check out our other guides, including the Best iPhone 13 Cases and Accessories, Best iPhone 12 Cases, Best iPhone SE Cases, Best iPads, and Best MacBooks.

Updated September 2022: We’ve added advice ahead of the Apple September event.  

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But First, Sell That Old iPhone!

If you’re upgrading from an iPhone, you can trade it to Apple to get a small discount. Before you do that, check whether you can sell it elsewhere for more money. iPhones hold their value incredibly well, particularly if they’re in mint or good condition. We have a guide that runs through a few websites you can use.

Don’t forget to back up your old iPhone before you switch to a newer model, which will help you transfer everything without losing any data. And remember to factory-reset your old iPhone before selling it. You might find our guides on setting up a new iPhone and how to fix it helpful, too. And if you don’t want to sell it, we have some ideas on how to repurpose your old device.

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  • Shared With You on iOS 15 apple phone

    Photograph: Apple

    Is It a Good Time to Buy?

    Wait for the Apple Event

    Apple’s annual iPhone event is coming up on September 7, where we’re expecting that it will introduce the iPhone 14 range. The prices may be similar to the current iPhone 13 lineup, which means the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 will soon see some discounted pricing. Rumor has it that the iPhone 13 Mini is on the chopping block. There’s a 50/50 chance that Apple will continue selling it for a year, like it did with the iPhone 12 Mini, or will discontinue it completely. If you desperately want a smaller iPhone with Face ID, then it’s not a bad idea to snag the iPhone 13 Mini before it’s gone forever; otherwise, we suggest waiting.  

    What can you expect with the iPhone 14? MacRumors points to four devices: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The infamous notch on the iPhone, which stores the camera components necessary for Face ID, might be redesigned to a hole-punch camera (like on most Android phones), though this might be relegated to the Pro models. There’s a chance Apple will stick with the A15 Bionic processor for the iPhone 14 and introduce a new A16 Bionic for the Pro phones, and the primary camera on the iPhone Pro devices might get bumped to 48 megapixels. 

    If you don’t want to spend the money to get a new iPhone, consider a fresh battery. If the biggest issues with your aging iPhone revolve around the battery, then replacing it might make it feel brand-new. Replacements for older iPhones are $49 and $69 for newer models. If that doesn’t do the trick, read our guide on ways to fix your iPhone’s problems, or our guide on selling your iPhone to get the most money out of it.

  • Photograph: Apple

    Best iPhone Deal

    Apple iPhone SE (2022)

    Apple refreshed its most affordable iPhone for a third generation (7/10, WIRED Recommends) earlier this year, though you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the differences. Externally, there are none—even the cases for the 2020 model will fit the iPhone SE 2022. (We’ve rounded up our favorite cases and accessories here.) That means you still get a cramped yet compact 4.7-inch LCD screen with a physical home button, thick bezels around the screen, and Touch ID. There’s no MagSafe accessory system here, and the headphone jack remains nonexistent, but at least you still get plain ol’ wireless charging. This is also the only iPhone in the lineup without ultra-wideband support, which improves AirDrop and lets you precisely find nearby AirTags.  

    Internally, it’s a whole lot more powerful than the previous generation. It has the same A15 Bionic processor as the iPhone 13 models, making this budget phone a powerhouse among its peers and capable of running the most demanding games. That chip also brings better battery life, but the SE will last you roughly a day of use—less if you’re a heavy user. It gets sub-6 5G connectivity, meaning it won’t be able to hit the super-fast internet speeds available on pricier iPhones, but this isn’t a big deal as you rarely run into that type of 5G. The single-lens rear camera takes pretty great daytime shots, but sadly, as there’s no night mode, low-light images are lackluster compared to phones like the Google Pixel 6A

  • Photograph: Apple

    Level Up With This Pick

    Apple iPhone 13

    It’s worth waiting for the iPhone 14 at the moment, but the iPhone 13 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is currently the best iPhone for most people. Apple brought in a few features from previous Pro models, such as sensor-shift stabilization on the main camera to correct for your shaky hands, and 128 gigabytes of base storage instead of the paltry 64 it offered before. The 6.1-inch OLED screen is also just the right size. One of the best new additions is Cinematic mode, which merges Portrait mode with video and adds a blur effect around your subject. It can be a little finicky, though. Overall, the cameras have improved. The wide and ultrawide can take in more light, producing sharper and brighter nighttime shots. 

    Battery life is better, easily lasting a full day and then some with heavy usage, and the A15 Bionic chip powering it is no slouch. It’s IP68 water-resistant, has 5G, and maintains the MagSafe accessory system from its predecessor. If you thought the original launch colors were a bit lackluster, well, you can get it in green.

    Note: There’s no charging adapter included (nor earbuds) with any of the iPhone 13 models, just a USB-C to Lightning cable. You might need to buy an adapter if you don’t have a USB-C one lying around.

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