Apple's full lineup of iPhones is bigger than you might think. Sure, there's the shiny new iPhone X, which was created to honor the 10th anniversary of the company's smartphone. Apple also has the relatively new iPhone8 and iPhone8 Plus. But not everyone wants to spend what those versions will set you back. There's also the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and the super budget-friendly iPhone SE. That's a lot of choices, but this guide should make it easier for you to choose the right iPhone for your business.
iPhone SEThe iPhone SE is a great choice for budget shoppers. Credit: Apple
At $349 (32GB) to $449 (128GB), the iPhone SE is the most affordable iPhone on the market. The phone is 4 inches, like the classic old-school iPhone, and ships with EarPods, a 5W USB power adapter and a lightning to USB cable.
The iPhone SE packs a lot of functionality into a small, relatively inexpensive package. The 12-MP camera and 5x digital zoom makes the phone ideal for taking casual snapshots. The Touch ID makes unlocking the phone easy, and the iPhone SE is Apple Pay-enabled and comes with iOS 11.
The SE has a (claimed) battery life of between 13 and 14 hours, but based on our tests, which involve continuous surfing over Wi-Fi, we recorded 8 hours and 35 minutes. The resolution won't blow you away (1136 x 640 pixels, or 326 ppi), but most people probably aren't watching movies on a phone this size anyway.
It's true that the iPhone SE has an older generation processor, an A9, and there are rumors that Apple will unveil a newer version of the SE in 2018, but that doesn't mean the current iPhone SE is a bad choice. In fact, the iPhone SE offers excellent bang for your buck, and it has a headphone jack.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s PlusApple's iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were first released in 2015. Credit: Apple
The iPhone 6s retails for $449 (32GB) or $549 (128GB) and the iPhone 6s Plus costs either $549 (32GB) or $649 (128GB), depending on the storage size.
The rear cameras on the iPhone 6s line are the same as the rear cameras on the iPhone SE, but the front-facing cameras on the 6s and 6s Plus have 5-MP FaceTime HD with Retina Flash, which Apple claims makes for better selfies and face timing.
In terms of the display quality, the iPhone 6s has the same resolution as the iPhone SE (326 ppi), but it's slightly larger, at 4.7 inches, so if you want the most inexpensive 4.7 inch iPhone on the market, opt for the 6s with 32GB and you'll be satisfied. The iPhone 6s Plus has significantly better resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels, 401 ppi) than either the 6s or SE, and a considerably larger 5.5-inch display.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus both have an A9 CPU with an embedded motion coprocessor and ship with the same accessories as the iPhone SE. The two lines, the SE and 6s, are so similar that unless screen size is a deal breaker, there's no reason to opt for the 6s or 6s Plus while the lower-cost iPhone SE is still available.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 PlusThe iPhone 7 starts at $549 for the 32GB model. Credit: Apple
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 $549 (32GB) or $649 (128GB), and the iPhone 7 Plus rings in at $669 (32GB) or $769 (128GB). The iPhone 7 line was also the first line of smartphones Apple released without a standard headphone jack, but it does come with an adaptor.
The iPhone 7, like previous iPhones, has a single 12-MP camera on the back, but the front has an upgraded 7-MP FaceTime HD camera (compared to the 6s line's 5-MP camera). The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, has the upgraded front camera as well as dual 12-MP 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, a 5W USB power adapter and a lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 PlusApple's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus support wireless charging Credit: Apple
There are several elements that are the same across all three 2017 iPhones. All of Apple's new phones have the same processor (A11 Bionic Chip), storage options (64GB or 256GB) and operating system (iOS 11). The 2017 line also has wireless charging capabilities (Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad will be available in 2018, but there are third party wireless charging pads already on the market).
The iPhone 8, which costs $649 (64GB) to $849 (256GB), and the 8 Plus, which costs $799 (64GB) to $949 (256GB), will both be available for preorder on September 15. Both phones have sleek glass and aluminum alloy chassis and come in silver, space grey 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 12-MP 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 a beta version of Apple's new portrait lighting tool (on the back camera only), which the company says will make it easy to take 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.
iPhone XApple's iPhone X will start at $999 for 64GB. Credit: Apple
The iPhone X, which may be so named for the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, or perhaps because 9 is considered an unlucky number in Japan, carries an extravagant $999 price tag for the 64GB model, and a whopping $1,149 for the 256GB model. That's a big chunk of change. So why might you be willing to spend that, outside of those who just need the newest and shiniest iPhone?
First, the design is different, but it's hardly original. The iPhone X looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, in that both have ultra-thin bezels, an OLED screen (the iPhone 8 line has an LCD screen), no physical buttons on the front and an all-glass design. It's a nice-looking phone, but it's hardly revolutionary.
Like the iPhone 7 and 8 lines, the iPhone X has no headphone jack, a controversial choice. It also features dual wide-angle/telephoto lenses, but in slightly different apertures. The iPhone X has a wide angle that's f/1.8 and a telephoto that's f/2.4, while the iPhone 8 Plus has an f/1.8 and f/2.8 respectively.
Why Apple made this slight adjustment is hard to say, but if you're looking for a specific aperture setup, it's worth noting. The front cameras are the same across all three new iPhones for 2017, but only the iPhone X has portrait mode and portrait lighting (beta) on the front camera as well as the back.
The iPhone X is the first of Apple's smartphones to have face recognition unlock, which Apple calls Face ID. While the addition of face scanning is welcome, it's odd that Apple only made it available on the iPhone X, since similar technology is already available on lower priced Android and Windows phones.
In addition to scanning your face for hands-free unlocking, Apple created a new feature called Animoji, which uses the same sensors to create animated emojis based on your own facial expressions and voice. So, for example, I could select a cat face emoji, stick out my tongue at the camera and say, "Happy Birthday!" The recipient would receive the animated cat making my facial expressions and speaking in my voice.
Aside from the slight difference in cameras and the Face ID and Animoji features, the display is the biggest differentiator between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 line. The iPhone X has a higher resolution screen (458 ppi) than any other Apple phone on the market, as well as a slightly larger display (5.8 inches), which Apple calls a Super Retina HD display (the iPhone 8 line has a Retina HD display). Whether that's worth more than a thousand dollars is your call.
iPhone's upgrade program
If you still want to upgrade to a 2017 iPhone, consider joining Apple's iPhone upgrade program. The phone upgrade program allows members to get a new iPhone every year, on any approved carrier, for a flat monthly rate (it starts 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 become 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 you're not sure if you're eligible for an upgrade, you can find out here.
All the new 2017 iPhones look like solid phones, but there haven't been enough upgrades to justify buying them just to have the latest Apple device. For less money and nearly the same functionality, you can purchase an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, and if you're willing to opt for a smaller size with fewer bells and whistles, the iPhone SE is the ideal choice.
Unless you're in the AR development world and desperately need to stay on the cutting edge of that technology, there's no reason to shell out for one of Apple's newest devices.