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Torn between new iPhone SE and iPhone 13? Apple has an alternative

iPhone 12 review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iPhone SE 2022 pre-orders only recently went live, but if you still can't decide between Apple's newly announced budget-friendly phone and other iPhone options, you might want to consider opting for the refurbished iPhone 12 instead.

That's because Apple has just begun selling refurbished versions of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro to its U.S. customers for the first time since the models were unveiled two years ago. It's worth noting that Apple doesn't offer the refurbished versions of the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max yet, but it's possible that they will become available in the near future.

You can pick between a wide range of iPhone 12 color options, including Green, Blue, White, Black, and even the newest addition: Purple. And as for the iPhone 12 Pro, you can opt for either the Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite or Silver models. 

Storage-wise, you can choose between different configurations (64GB, 128GB and 256GB for the iPhone 12) and (128GB, 256GB and 512GB for the iPhone 12 Pro). Overall, you'll get the refurbished iPhone 12 for up to $130 cheaper (opens in new tab) compared to the new model, meanwhile, you can save up to $180 with the refurbished iPhone 12 Pro (opens in new tab).

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iPhone 12 (refurbished): save up to $130 @ Apple (opens in new tab)
Apple is now selling refurbished versions of the iPhone 12. For up to $130 cheaper, you can get a two-year-old model that features a 6.1-inch OLED display, A14 Bionic chip with a solid camera system. Pick between 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage configurations and five colors.

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iPhone 12 Pro (refurbished): save up to $180 @ Apple (opens in new tab)
You can now opt for a refurbished iPhone 12 Pro, which could save you up to $180, compared to the full price of the new phone. The iPhone 12 Pro features a 6.1-inch OLED display, A14 Bionic chip and an impressive camera system and an better battery life, compared to the standard model. Available in four colors and three storage configurations: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.

There are a couple of reasons why getting the refurbished iPhone 12 over the newly announced iPhone SE might be a sensible option. 

First of all, you might get the refurbished iPhone 12 a lot faster than the iPhone SE. Apple opened pre-orders for the iPhone SE last Friday, and the phone won't officially release until March 18. Plus, we've just recently reported that iPhone SE pre-order delivery times have just slipped to late March, so users who have placed their pre-orders won't get their hands on their new phones until at least March 28. 

Given that the iPhone production could be hit by new COVID-19 lockdown in China, it's also possible that new iPhone orders could be affected.

Meanwhile, the refurbished iPhone 12 could arrive to your doorstep as soon as tomorrow with express delivery. But even if you opt for the standard delivery, you can still get it by this Friday. 

Despite its two-year age, the iPhone 12 still has a few advantages even over the A15-powered iPhone SE. Let's break down the most notable differences, starting with the display. The iPhone SE 2022 packs a 4.7-inch LCD display, meanwhile the iPhone 12 offer a bigger 6.1-inch OLED display. 

Secondly, the iPhone 12 also features a more advanced dual-lens rear camera system that sports a 12MP wide lens and a 12 MP ultrawide lens. Plus, the 12MP front camera also gives the iPhone 12 the advantage over the iPhone SE's 7MP lens. Of course, we have to award another point to the iPhone 12 for its upgraded design, which is a step-up from the iPhone SE's arguably dated look. Unlike the iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 features an all-screen design with flat edges and significantly thinner bezels. 

In our iPhone 12 vs. iPhone SE 2022 face-off, our managing editor Philip Michaels concluded that "as good as the iPhone SE is, you'd have to acknowledge that the iPhone 12 models are superior in nearly every way, from design to performance to cameras."

Price-wise, an unlocked 128GB iPhone SE is $479, so $180 cheaper than a the refurbished version of the 128GB iPhone 12, which will cost you $659. But there's an argument you're getting a a lot more for the extra cash. And considering that any refurbished Apple models usually undergo rigorous checks prior to sale and the fact that you'll also get a one-year warranty, we'd say that this offer is definitely worth considering. 

Denise Primbet
News Writer

Denise is a Life Reporter at Newsweek, covering everything lifestyle-related, including health, relationships, personal finance, beauty and more. She was formerly a news writer at Tom’s Guide, regularly producing stories on all things tech, gaming software/hardware, fitness, streaming, and more. Her published content ranges from short-form news articles to long-form pieces, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not playing horror games, she can be found exploring East London with her adorable puppy. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen.