Apple's lineup of iPhones is one fewer than last year – goodbye, iPhone SE – but it can still be difficult to distinguish which options is the best fit for your business. Naturally, the newest additions – the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max – are vying for your attention, but Apple also has the relatively new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus at discounted prices from last year. For those looking to save even more, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus offer a lot of the same functionality of the newer devices and now start below $500. That's a lot of choices, but this guide should make it easier for you to choose the right iPhone for your business.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are Apple's first phones to feature the A10 processing chip, and the first that Apple claims are water- and dust-resistant. The iPhone 7 retails for $449 (32GB) or $549 (128GB), and the iPhone 7 Plus rings in at $569 (32GB) or $669 (128GB). The iPhone 7 line was also the first line of smartphones Apple released without a standard headphone jack, and the phone no longer comes with a headphone adapter.
The iPhone 7, like previous iPhones, has a single 12MP camera on the back, but the front has an upgraded 7MP FaceTime HD camera (compared to the 6s line's 5MP camera). The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, has the upgraded front camera as well as dual 12MP cameras on the back (one wide-angle with f/1.8 aperture and one telephoto with f/2.8 aperture), so if you want to purchase the least expensive iPhone with dual back lenses, go for the iPhone 7 Plus with 32GB. The iPhone 7 Plus also has portrait mode on the back camera and digital zoom up to 10x, while the iPhone 7 does not have portrait mode and can only zoom up to 5x.
Like previous iPhones, the iPhone 7 line has Touch ID and Apple Pay, and both phones ship with an EarPods with Lightning Connector, a Lightning-to-USB cable and a 5W USB power adapter.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
Last year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus remain available, while the original iPhone X is gone from the lineup. It's worth remembering that all of Apple's 2017 phones had the same processor (the A11 Bionic chip), storage options (64GB or 256GB) and wireless charging capabilities (Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad no longer has an expected ship date, but there are third-party wireless charging pads already on the market). So a lot of the iPhone X experience is here at a slightly more affordable price and with a familiar design.
The iPhone 8 now costs $599 (64GB) to $749 (256GB), and the 8 Plus now costs $699 (64GB) to $849 (256GB). Both phones have sleek glass and aluminum alloy chassis and come in silver, space gray and gold finishes. Both models feature Touch ID biometric fingerprint scanners and Retina HD displays, but the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inches and 401 ppi) has considerably better resolution than the iPhone 8 (4.7 inches and 326 ppi).
Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 sports just one 12MP camera with a 5x digital zoom, and like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 Plus has two rear cameras, one wide-angle lens (f/1.8 aperture) and one telephoto lens (f/2.8 aperture) with a 10x digital zoom.
Like the older model (iPhone 7 Plus), the iPhone 8 Plus features portrait mode on the back camera, but it also has Apple's portrait lighting tool (on the back camera only), which simulates studio-worthy portraits regardless of lighting.
It should be noted that the front cameras on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are identical, just like in the iPhone 7 line. Apple claims the cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are "custom tuned for the ultimate AR experience," but the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 lines are virtually the same, save for the larger storage space and wireless charging capabilities.
Apple's iPhone XR shares much of the design of the iPhone X, with a few cost-cutting measures to bring the price down to $749 for the base 64GB model. Like last year's iPhone X, the iPhone XR only comes in a single screen size (6.1 inches), but it does offer an array of colors, which is something we haven't seen since 2013's iPhone 5C. Color options are white, black, blue, yellow, coral and (Product)Red. You have two additional storage options available as well: 128GB for $799 and 256GB for $899. So what has Apple done to shave $250 off the price of the original iPhone X while maintaining the overall look and feel?
As we said last year, the iPhone X looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy line in that both have ultrathin bezels, no physical buttons on the front and an all-glass design. It's a nice-looking phone, but other than being an early example of the new notch design, hardly revolutionary. One of the big changes in the XR is the return to an LCD screen from the high-end OLED of the iPhone X. It's a step down, but one that would go unnoticed by someone upgrading from any previous iPhone other than the iPhone X.
Naturally, the iPhone XR has no headphone jack – a still-frustrating omission for some, but one that Apple has concluded most buyers have adjusted to, as the company no longer includes a headphone adapter in the box. Another omission for the iPhone XR is 3D Touch, a feature that first showed up in the iPhone 6S that allows for different interactions when you hard-press the screen, but it never really caught on, so most will likely not miss this feature.
The camera is another area where Apple saved money on the iPhone XR, dropping the dual lenses of the iPhone X in favor of a single f/1.8 lens, although it is powered by the same 12MP camera as this year's iPhone XS and XS Max. Despite the lack of the dual lens, the iPhone XR can still capture the portrait photos popular with the iPhone X; it merely achieves this through software rather than hardware.
The front cameras are the same across all three new iPhones for 2018, including the ability to unlock with Face ID and support for Animoji. Also identical across the three phones is the Bionic A12 processor, so you aren't giving up any power by going with the iPhone XR. All of the phones offer wireless charging as well, and improved charging speeds from last year. Support for dual SIMs is a new feature across the 2018 line: You can now use both an e-SIM and the Nano SIM slot, which is potentially a big deal for those who maintain a work and personal line or travel internationally.
One area where the iPhone XR gets to claim the top spot for 2018 is battery life. Apple claims the XR will offer the best battery life ever for an iPhone. With a stated talk time of 25 hours and internet usage of 15 hours, the former bests the iPhone XS by five hours, and the latter is two hours more than even the iPhone XS Max.
iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
Apple's flagship devices for 2018 are the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The former looks virtually identical to the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED screen, while the latter brings the large screen option to the X line with an enormous 6.5-inch OLED.
The iPhone XS picks up the pricing from the iPhone X, costing $999 for the 64GB model, $1,149 for 256GB, and $1,349 for 512GB. The iPhone XS Max breaks new ground for iPhone pricing, costing $1,099 for 64GB, $1,249 for 256GB, and $1,449 for 512GB. It's hard to imagine almost any user needing the 512GB option, but those who do will be ecstatic to see it available.
As previously mentioned, the iPhone XR shares a lot of features with its more expensive siblings – the Bionic A12 processor, the rear camera sensor, the front-facing camera, wireless charging – so what are the upgrades that should convince you to shell out the extra $250 or more for the XS line?
The screen has to be one of the biggest selling points. The iPhone XS and XS Max both use an OLED display that is capable of much deeper blacks and a wider color gamut than the XR.
The iPhone XS and XS Max also both feature the dual lens system first seen on the iPhone 7, which produces superior portrait photos than the software solution of the iPhone XR and, of course, gives you a telephoto option to capture some photos that you might otherwise miss from being too far away.
The overall build quality is better with the iPhone XS line, including a steel body (versus aluminum in the iPhone XR) and improved water resistance (IP68) in case that is a serious concern for you.
As you can see, there aren't many differentiating features for the XS line versus the XR, so for many, it is likely going to boil down to the size of the devices. The iPhone XS offers all of the new features in the most compact body, so if you want to use your device one-handed, this is probably your only option in the 2018 lineup. The XS Max, on the other hand, offers all of the latest features with an enormous screen. For those who feel more productive on a big screen, this is the clear winner.
iPhone's upgrade program
If you still want to upgrade to a 2018 iPhone, consider joining Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. The program allows members to get a new iPhone every year, on any approved carrier, for a flat monthly rate (starting at $34.50 per month). This fee is only for the phone, not the service.
You can join the iPhone Upgrade Program online or in a store. After you've made the equivalent of 12 payments, you'll be eligible for an upgrade, at which point a new iPhone will be shipped to your door along with a trade-in kit to send back your current iPhone.
Apple notes that availability for the newest iPhones is on a first-come, first-served basis during the preorder process. If you're already a member and not sure if you're eligible for an upgrade, you can find out here.
All the new 2018 iPhones look like solid phones, but whether there have been enough upgrades to justify the expense will depend on your needs and what device you are coming from. For less money and nearly the same functionality, you can purchase an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, and starting at less than half the cost of the new top-end iPhones, the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus are still solid choices.
If you upgraded to the iPhone X or even the iPhone 8 line last year, it is hard to imagine that you would find the need to upgrade this year, unless the larger screen size of the iPhone XS Max is a big selling point for you. For those who are coming from an iPhone 6S or the Phone 7 line but shied away from the iPhone X last year due to the price, the iPhone XR should be a compelling option. It offers many of the benefits of the new design, with compromises that most users are unlikely to notice.