iPhone 11 is still a good buy — who should grab it before it's gone

iPhone 11
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 11's days are likely numbered. That's the claim of at least one report, which looks at likely changes to Apple's phone lineup once the iPhone 14 arrives this fall. 

Based on that report from LeaksApplePro (opens in new tab), Apple will drop the iPhone 11 from its offerings, as it makes way for new handsets and cuts prices on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12. Once that happens, there may be no room left for the iPhone 11, which currently costs $499 or just $70 more than the newer iPhone SE (2022).

Of course, you don't really need an inside source to conclude that the iPhone 11 is about to head off to the big remainder bin in the sky. The iPhone 11 will celebrate its third birthday this fall, and in a smartphone version of Blade Runner, that's when a device's incept date kicks in, and Apple retires it for good.

For people who want the latest and greatest Apple gear, the iPhone 11 is no longer a consideration. The current iPhone 13 models offer newer, faster processors, a more durable design and — if you upgrade to the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max — faster refreshing display. If you can hold out for the iPhone 14 in the fall, you're likely to see even new more new features introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro lineup, such as a notch-free design and maybe even a 48MP main camera.

But not everyone wants to pay new iPhone prices. And if you're hunting for a bargain, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the $499 iPhone 11. That aging A13 Bionic chip powering the phone can still handle demanding tasks and those dual rear cameras get the benefit of Apple's computational photography features to take outstanding pictures.

The iPhone 11 can also run iOS 15, so all the latest software features are available to that device, even if it first debuted in 2019. As I wrote earlier this year just before the iPhone SE's launch, there's still plenty to recommend the iPhone 11 as a low-cost way of enjoying the iPhone experience.

The iPhone 11 in turqouise stood against a stone wall

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So stipulating that anyone considering an iPhone 11 is either unwilling or unable to pay the premium that a newer flagship demands, who's best suited to buy this older model before it disappears in the fall? Beyond the general category of "People Who Want a Very Good Phone for Less than $500," I think the iPhone 11 appeals to these particular groups.

Parents buying a new phone for their kids: Yes, if you think it's time for your teen (or even your tween) to get a phone all their own, the most likely route is just to hand down one of your older devices when you upgrade to a new model. Still, these days, trading in that old phone when you upgrade can reduce the cost of your new device, and maybe your kids would appreciate having a device that's all theirs.

If so, the iPhone 11 fits the bill. It's got a more modern look than the cheaper iPhone SE, while still costing less than $500. That's a relatively small outlay on the off-chance your child learns a hard lesson about the importance of safeguarding their mobile gear. (One of the best iPhone 11 cases can help make mitigate any damage from drops.)

Mobile photographers on a budget: If the main activity you use your smartphone for is to snap photos, you're going to want to pick up an iPhone 11 rather than iPhone SE (2022). It's not just because the latter has just one rear lens, though the ultrawide angle shooter on the iPhone 11 does give you greater flexibility when capturing scenic shots. Rather, it's because the newer iPhone SE still doesn't offer a Night mode, making the iPhone 11 a much better option for taking photos when the lights are low.

iphone 11 cameras

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Anyone who hates charging their phone: It's been a while since we've tested the iPhone 11, but when we ran our battery test on the phone back when it first came out, the iPhone 11 lasted 11 hours and 16 minutes. That time would still be good enough to just miss out on a spot among our list of the best phone battery life.

It's also a heck of a lot better than how the new iPhone SE (2022) fared when we had it surf the web continuously until it ran out of power. That phone lasted just 9 hours and 5 minutes, which is below the average for a smartphone. Apple's other low-cost smartphone, the iPhone 12 mini, is even worse, failing to crack the 8.5 hour mark. Just keep in mind that the iPhone 11 uses 4G while the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini have more power-hungry 5G connections. 

There are newer options available than the iPhone 11. But those phones are going to have you searching for a charging outlet much sooner than you would be if you grabbed an iPhone 11.

You're looking for an interim device: People are holding on to smartphones longer these days, and if that describes you, you'd be better off opting for one of Apple's current flagships. Given Apple's current track record of software support, an iPhone 13 should still be able to get iOS updates until at least 2027.

But not everyone wants to keep the same smartphone for that long. If the current iPhone 13 models don't strike your fancy and the iPhone 14 rumors don't sound as if they'll be introducing must-have features, getting an iPhone 11 now could be just enough to tide you over until the iPhone 15 arrives in 2023. By then, Apple's phones could include a periscope telephoto lens, under-display Face ID or Touch ID sensors or any one of a number of rumored features that are unlikely to make the cut for the iPhone 14.

iPhone 11 outlook

That's just a sampling of who might still find the iPhone 11 appealing, 2.5 years after Apple first unveiled the phone. If any of that describes you, it's time to start making plans about snapping up an iPhone 11 before it drops out of the ranks of the best iPhones.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • KingOfTheJungle
    I’ve got the 11 Pro Max. Had the 6s plus for many years… over 4 at least. Best phone I’ve ever owned. I got the 11 Pro Max in January when I saw a deal on a new one and grabbed it. Boy do I regret that. In 4 months I’ve had the 11 pro max, it’s been nothing but major problems. Dropped the phone first time and the front screen and “back glass” were smashed badly. All this while having an Otter Box case on it. The new screen only lasted a couple months until it stopped working.
    Phone is slow, network connectivity sucks, BT connectivity sucks, all around its just a bad ok
    I was using my old 6s Plus today since my 11 pro max was security locked. I will be honest I’d rather take the 6 s plus any day over the 11 Pro Max. I was locked out after freezing up and after a restart inputting 555555 on its own at passcode screen. Has been an absolute terrible phone. I dropped it once and spent 400 on replacing screen. My 6s plus I’ve dropped, banged, and been hard on the old 6s and she didn’t miss a beat. The pro max has “glass covering all over it.. 400 front screen replace… 350 for the “back glass” . … one drop. Don’t buy one…. Absolute trash.
    Reply