An iPhone 12 for $499 could be a killer iPhone 11 replacement this fall

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Apple)

iPhones have a well-earned reputation for costing a lot of money. But Apple has made noticeable efforts in recent years to provide iPhones at multiple prices for different buyers. When shopping among the best iPhones, you can save a lot of money by getting an older model, or opting  for the more budget-conscious iPhone SE.

Right now, the mid-range option to beat is the venerable iPhone 11, one of the best phones released in recent years. With excellent battery life, great cameras, and powerful performance, the iPhone 11 remains a device many should consider if they can't swing one of the newer, more expensive models.

But rumors suggest that Apple will discontinue sales of the iPhone 11 when the iPhone 14 launches in the fall. If so, there will be a large gap between the $429 iPhone SE (2022) and the regular iPhone 14, assuming that new phone costs $799 as is expected.Granted, you'll likely be able to find deals on an iPhone 13 or iPhone 12 once the 14 comes out, but as for a dedicated product that sits in the middle of the mainline iPhones and the SE, there's likely to be a hole to fill.

Why the iPhone 12 can take the iPhone 11's place

I think the iPhone 12 would be perfectly suited for this role. It'll hit two years old once the iPhone 14 comes out, so it's no longer the latest and greatest. But it does have modern features like an OLED display and 5G, features the iPhone 11 lacks. The iPhone 12's cameras also are incredibly good and it's a performance beast.

I doubt that Apple will drop the price of that all the way down $499 — it currently goes for $699 — since that new price would eat into the iPhone SE's lunch. But on the off chance the iPhone 12 does fall that low — or close to it — budget-conscious iPhone buyers will have quite the treat.

The iPhone 12 has the more modern design compared to the SE's dated iPhone 8 body. Battery life, while not spectacular, still outpaces the SE. There's also the ultrawide camera and Night mode, things the cheapest iPhone lack.

Even $549 for an iPhone 12 would be a steal. Apple could also lower the price of the iPhone 12 mini to $499 to clear out inventory, giving small phone fans a huge boon with the modern iPhone design and camera quality upgrades. Maybe the iPhone 12 and 12 mini will fill in the midrange gap. Only Apple knows at this point.

iPhone 12 outlook

The possibility of us finally saying goodbye to the iPhone 11 is certainly a sad one, but it makes a lot of sense. A phone from 2019 certainly has its quirks, like the older screen tech and lag of 5G, so I'm surprised Apple held onto it this long.

Of course, we have no confirmation about Apple's plans yet, and we're unlikely to hear anything for a few more months. We'll just have to wait to see what Apple does. But from where I'm sitting, an iPhone 12 priced at $499 — or even $549 — would awesome.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.