Your First iPhone: How to Choose the Best Option for Beginners

Apple's list of iPhone models may look like someone dropped a bag of Scrabble tiles, but we can help you get a handle on the seven models currently in production. The iPhone SE is the only one that still has a Home button (and a fingerprint ID login option), but besides that, there aren't major differences when it comes to what new iPhone users need to get used to. For most shoppers, the choice comes down to budget and specs. This minHour will guide new users in selecting their very first iPhone.

Choose an iPhone 11 to get the most value for your money.

This is the cheapest of the recent, powerful iPhones.

Starting at $600 USD, this is the best bargain if you’re looking for a powerful, recent-gen phone (released in late 2019). It’s got a great display, processor, battery life, and cameras, only a hair behind the cutting-edge iPhone 12 and $200 cheaper.

Go for the iPhone 12 to try an Apple all-rounder.

Though pricey, the reviews say it’s worth the cost.

This starts at $800 for 64GB storage (and climbs to $950 for 256GB). For that price, you’re getting Apple’s latest “standard” phone, with an extremely fast processor, excellent multi-lens camera, and 5G capability.

Get the iPhone 12 Mini if you love compact phones.

The iPhone 12 Mini is Apple’s best compact phone.

Despite its tiny size, the $700 Mini packs the same overall specs as the standard iPhone 12, including the fast processor, camera, 5G capability, and screen shield. (Though the battery life is about 10% shorter.) If you’re a fan of compact phones and this is in your budget, it’s hard to go wrong.

Order the iPhone SE for a budget compact phone.

This is an affordable workhorse in a palm-sized package.

Consciously a budget option, the SE 2020 is not for users who want to maximize photography and battery life. That said, its powerful processor should keep it relevant for years, which is not bad for the lowest price tag in Apple’s store: $400.

  • This is the only current model that has a Home button and that uses the fingerprint ID login system. All other models offer a face recognition option instead.

Consider the iPhone XR for budget reasons.

This is a basic, affordable, big-screen phone.

As the oldest model still in production, the iPhone XR sits in an odd spot. At $500, this might be the phone for you if budget is your main priority, but you can’t stand the tiny screen of the SE. (Otherwise, the tiny $400 SE wins on price and processor.) But if your wallet is a little flexible, move forward a generation to the $600 iPhone 11 for a similar-looking phone with several strict upgrades to the processor, camera, and other specs.

Buy the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max for top-notch photography.

If cost is no obstacle, these showcase some of Apple’s best tech.

The most noticeable upgrade from the standard iPhone 12 is the camera: these models add a third, telephoto lens, much better low-light performance, and a ProRAW mode with more image editing control. The Pro starts at $1000, while the Pro Max is an oversize model with a slightly better camera for $1100.

  • Although these phones are near the top of the camera phone world, there are state-of-the-art Android competitors as well. Look into the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, and Sony Xperia 1 III.

Buy the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Mini for Apple’s latest innovations.

Durable and dust-resistant, Apple’s newest line of iPhones are made for those with an active lifestyle.

The iPhone 13 is the newest iPhone available, having released in September of 2021. With its newest models, Apple prioritized durability, while still maintaining the sleek and lightweight design that has defined its devices over the years. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini are largely the same, except the Mini weighs just 4.97 ounces. It is also the cheapest iPhone 13 option, starting at just $699. The iPhone 13, on the other hand, starts at $799.

  • While the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini remain more expensive than many other iPhone models, they are surprisingly affordable for such new phones. As a new user, you may want to purchase the newest iPhone available, and these models provide a perfect way to do so.

Choose the iPhone 13 Pro Max for the best and the biggest.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple’s most powerful device yet.

With a screen that measure 6.7 inches diagonally, it is also ginormous. This makes the 13 Pro Max ideal for gaming and watching TV, but it may also be inconvenient for some users. The device weighs 8.47 ounces, so it’ll feel a bit heavy in some users’ hands. Fortunately, a bigger phone also comes with a bigger battery. Even with Apple’s brightest display and most powerful camera, the Pro Max version of the iPhone 13 also offers the best battery life of any iPhone model. Apple promises up to 25 hours of video streaming!

  • As one might expect, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is quite expensive. The phone debuted on the market at $1,099 for a 128GB model. A 1TB model can be purchased for $1,599.
  • Like with the iPhone 12, Apple offers an iPhone 13 Pro. It is basically the same as the Pro Max, but at a slightly smaller size and with less battery life.

Look for deals on old refurbished models.

These high-quality used phones are sold officially through Apple.

These are fully cleaned, repaired, and fitted with a new shell and battery. The availability is limited to phones customers have traded in, but you can pick up a slightly older-gen phone for a huge discount. Browse the current offers at

  • When it arrives, download the latest version of iOS. Your phone will be more secure, and you’ll be learning how to use the modern version of Apple’s software.


  • Older-gen phones like the SE, 11, and XR are limited to 4G LTE networks, not 5G. That said, 5G infrastructure still doesn’t offer any significant benefits for most users. That’s likely to change slowly in the next few years, but don’t overemphasize its importance when shopping for phones today.
  • If you’re outside the US, double check what Apple is charging in your currency before ruling anything out. Prices can vary, so the best deal in one country doesn’t always hold true for everywhere else.

Leave a Comment