Apple’s iPhones are expensive. But if you don’t mind using a slightly older model, you can get a brilliant iPhone for under $500…
If you want an iPhone under $500, you basically only have a couple of options: the first is to get the iPhone SE 2020 – that phone retails for less than $450 now.
Or, if you want a proper iPhone, meaning one that looks modern, has FACE ID, and a larger display, as well as things like dual-lens camera modules, then you need to go the refurbished route.
Thanks to the impending release of the iPhone 12s, and the fact that the iPhone 12 range has been out for 12 months, you can now pick up refurbished iPhone 11 models below $500.
And below are the models we’d go for based on a few different types of needs and wants. All of the options listed below are great; they’re all potent handsets with great performance.
Best iPhones Under $500
iPhone 11 – The Best For 99.9% of People
The iPhone 11 is an incredible device. I’ve owned one since it came out and I’m still using it today. The battery life is brilliant, better than the iPhone 12’s by over 4 hours, it has a solid camera, and it has spades of performance, thanks to Apple’s A13 CPU.
The design is current, modern and in a side-by-side with the newer iPhone 12, you’d be hard pressed to spot a difference. If you just want a reliable phone for not much money, the iPhone 11 is easily the best iPhone you can buy right now under $500.
iPhone XS Max – The Elder Statesmen
The iPhone XS Max initially launched in 2018, so it is a few years old. This means it is now quite a bit cheaper than it was at launch (it retailed for over $1000 then).
The iPhone XS Max has an OLED display, plenty of power under the hood, and it still looks as good today as it did when it first landed.
Because of its age, you can now get some truly incredible deals on this fantastic flagship phone. And do not be put off by its age, the iPhone XS Max has enough spec to remain relevant for years to come.
iPhone XR – Incredible Value For Money
The iPhone XR was positioned as Apple’s first truly accessible iPhone. It came in a range of colors and was the best selling iPhone for three years straight – turns out people like value for money!
The iPhone XR can now be picked up for under $300 and, like the iPhone XS Max, it still packs plenty of punch when it comes to performance, thanks to Apple’s insanely powerful chipsets.
If you want to keep your costs down, this is the one to go for. The only (slightly) weak aspect of this phone, compared to the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS, is the camera: it uses the same single-lens as the iPhone 8.
If you can deal with that, the iPhone XR is a killer phone at an incredible price point. Ideal if you’re looking to cut some serious costs in 2021 and beyond.
Or, If You Can Stretch A Little More…
iPhone 11 Pro Max – Well Worth Spending A Little Extra
I didn’t include the iPhone 11 Pro Max above because, well, you cannot buy one for under $500. If you want the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you’ll have to spend around $630-$650.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is one of the most impressive flagship phones Apple has ever created. It has a blindingly good camera, the performance is stellar, and it looks beautiful – especially in Midnight Green.
Is the iPhone 11 Pro Max worth the extra money? I think so, yeah. I mean, if you can live with 5G, and you want an Apple flagship for around 60% less than the cost of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, then the iPhone 11 Pro Max is a great option.
It has more performance than you’ll ever need, one of the best cameras on the market, and it will get iOS updates until well into the late-2020s. And at $630, it is more than 60% cheaper than buying a brand new iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Oh, and because the iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t run 5G it has properly impressive battery life – it will go five hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro Max off a single charge.
As I said: if you can live without 5G, this is just about the best option right now when it comes to iPhones.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.