Sure, the new iPhone 8 models, and especially the high-end iPhone X, look good and have oodles of cool features, but these newly introduced devices also come with hefty price tags that can top $1,000 for the most expensive configurations.

If you're in the market for a new iPhone, but don't feel like stretching your budget that far, you can save some serious cash by shopping the earlier-generation iPhone models still on the market. They offer great performance for the basic functions most of us want—texting, surfing the web, watching music and movies, and taking photos and videos—for considerably less money.

Of course, you could also consider some of the high-scoring Android phones available: Most of the top-end models from Samsung and LG start below $800, and some phones recommended by Consumer Reports cost as little as $300.

If it's got to be an iPhone, though, your lower-price choices start with the iPhone SE, which you can find for $350 or less, and continue through the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus—which had customers lining up outside Apple stores just last year.

Prices on the iPhone 7 pair are likely to drop throughout the fall. Scott Peterson, an analyst for Gap Intelligence, which tracks in-store and online pricing at major retailers across 22 metropolitan regions each week, says prices of older iPhones typically decline soon after a new model is announced. He predicts that iPhone 7 prices could fall about $100 in the coming weeks. (Gap Intelligence regularly provides retail data to Consumer Reports.)


All of the previous iPhones still on the market are recommended by Consumer Reports. Yes, Apple says the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X have even better cameras and other technology—we'll test the phones once they're available at retail—but you can't go far wrong with an older model.

In fact, some of the interesting new features that Apple has been promoting, including augmented reality and person-to-person payments through iMessage and Apple Pay, aren't exclusive to the new phones. Instead, those features come with the iOS 11 operating system, which is a free upgrade available starting Sept. 19.

As Peterson says, “iOS updates should continue to keep [older phones] relevant.” The new operating system will work with every iPhone back to the iPhone 5s, introduced in 2013. Augmented reality apps built with Apple's ARKit development software will run on the iPhone SE, the two iPhone 6s models, and the two iPhone 7 phones, along with the newly announced models.

Here’s how some of the older iPhone models stack up against the just-announced ones. A table at the bottom of the page summarizes the major differences.

iPhone SE ($349 and Up)

In essence, this is a mini, and value-priced, version of the iPhone 6s. One retailer of prepaid phones is selling the SE for as low as $159, Peterson notes, making the model a good choice for consumers looking to save money.

The SE is also the smallest iPhone currently out there, with just a 4-inch screen, but Consumer Reports' testers found that it packs a lot inside. It has the same rear-facing camera and chip as the 6s and 6s Plus, along with the same number of pixels per inch—that's a common measurement of screen resolution—as the iPhone 6s, 7, and 8.

The SE also includes all the usual Apple features that many people take for granted, such as its Siri digital assistant, Apple Pay, and Touch ID.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus ($449 and Up)

At first glance, it's hard to distinguish these phones from their newer stablemates. They’re the same sizes, respectively, as the 7 and 7 Plus and the 8 and 8 Plus. They also provide the same number of pixels per inch as the newer phones, making for a sharp display.

The 6s and 6s Plus’ 12-megapixel rear-facing camera shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second, and our testers noted that it marked a big improvement over the iPhone 6’s 8-megapixel camera.

Newer phones have even more sophisticated cameras, but typical users may not notice much of a difference. And the 5-megapixel front-facing, or selfie, camera on these phones supports FaceTime in high definition.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus ($549 and Up)

These phones, introduced in 2016, are probably best known for being the first to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack, a move that upset many Apple fans. On the other hand, the iPhone 7 had stereo speakers. Our testers found that these speakers were louder than the single speaker on previous iPhones, but the testers also said they sounded "tinny."

The iPhone 7 pair were also Apple’s first water-resistant models, and our tests confirmed that they could withstand a 30-minute dunk in about 3 feet of water. For some consumers, that could be reason enough to skip past the iPhone 6 models.

If you choose the 7 or 7 Plus instead of a 6s model, you also get an improved 7-megapixel selfie camera, along with a faster A10 Fusion chip. The 7 Plus is also the earliest iPhone model to include a dual-lens, rear-facing camera.

The table below summarizes major differences among all these phones, along with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. (If you're reading this on your smartphone, we recommend you rotate it to landscape mode for a better view.)

iPhone Models By the Numbers

iPhone model
(Starting price)

Display Size (Resolution in pixels per inch)

Main camera

Storage options

Wireless charging

SE ($349)4-inch (326ppi)12MP32GB, 128GBNo
6s ($449)4.7-inch (326ppi)12MP32GB, 128GBNo
6s Plus ($549)5.5-inch (401ppi)12MP32GB, 128GBNo


4.7-inch (326ppi)12MP32GB, 128GBNo
7 Plus ($669)5.5-inch (401ppi)12MP dual cameras32GB, 128GBNo


4.7-inch (326ppi)12MP64GB, 256GBYes
8 Plus ($799)5.5-inch (401ppi)12MP dual cameras64GB, 256GBYes
5.8-inch (458ppi)12MP dual cameras64GB, 256GBYes
Apple Inc.
  1. Prices are those charged by Apple as of Sept. 13, 2017.