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What Is the Cheapest iPhone?

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You're impressed by the iPhone's features. You love its iconic design. You appreciate how Apple's control over both the hardware and software makes for an integrated experience envied by Android users. But even with all that, you still balk at paying the top dollar that Apple's iPhone commands.

Not to worry — it's pretty easy to find the cheapest iPhone. The biggest question is whether that inexpensive model can meet your needs.

iPhone 8: The Cheapest iPhone Apple sells

Now that Apple has taken the wraps off the 2019 iPhone 11 family, the least expensive of the new models is the $699 iPhone 11. That price is $50 lower than the $749 asking price the iPhone XR debuted at a year ago. Even better, while the pricier iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max do offer more premium features than the iPhone 11, you're making too many sacrifices for that $300 discount off the iPhone 11 Pro's price. Your biggest tradeoffs will be the display (the iPhone 11 features an LCD panel and not an OLED one) and cameras (the iPhone 11 has just two rear lenses to the iPhone 11 Pro's trio of shooters), but otherwise there aren't that many notable differences between Apple's less expensive and premium flagships.

But the iPhone 11 isn't Apple's cheapest iPhone — not if you're willing to buy an older model. Whenever new iPhones hit the market, Apple sorts through its existing models, pruning away the ones that are long in the tooth (so long, iPhone 7) or don't have much reason to stick around now that the newer models are here (we hardly knew you, iPhone XS). The older models that are kept in the iPhone lineup then see drastic price cuts.

That's what happened to the iPhone 8, which is now available for $449, making it the cheapest iPhone you can currently buy from Apple. You can lower the cost even further if you have another iPhone to trade in.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The question is, should you opt for the cheapest possible iPhone? Our ranking of the best iPhones you can currently buy goes into greater detail, but here are the arguments for and against getting an iPhone 8 in this day and age.

Reasons for Getting the iPhone 8: Low price; Can still run iOS 13; Apple's only remaining compact phone.

Reasons for Avoiding the iPhone 8: Processor is two years old; Chunky bezels relative to today's all-screen designs; Just one rear camera.

Other cheap iPhone options: Used phones

Of course, the iPhone 8 is only the cheapest iPhone on sale at Apple. You can find inexpensive phones elsewhere, typically older models sold by discount carriers. As of this writing, for example, Verizon-owned Visible is selling a refurbished iPhone 7 for $186.

Going the refurbished route is one way to get a discounted iPhone, and if you want to buy a used phone with confidence, Apple has its own pre-owned offerings. The selection isn't extensive, but you can usually save $100 to $200 off an iPhone that's only a generation or two old. You won't find the cheapest iPhone here, but it is a nice compromise between paying full price for a new phone and having to settle for a much older model.

Otherwise, retailers and reseller sites offer a selection of older iPhones at discounted prices. Again, you won't be getting the most up-to-date models if you shop for a used phone, but you can find something as recent as 2017's iPhone X for prices that rival what Apple charges for a new iPhone 8. (Just be aware that the the steeper the discount, the less likely your "new" phone will arrive in pristine condition.)

The cheapest iPhone isn't actually an iPhone

There's one other way to get an iOS device on the cheap, but it depends on how strongly you feel about the phone part of the iPhone. Apple continues to sell the iPod touch, now up to its seventh generation. The $199 model essentially boasts the same specs as an iPhone 7, only without the ability to connect over cellular networks. That means you'll be limited to using Wi-Fi for surfing the web, sending messages or using apps that require some sort of internet connectivity.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For some users, though, that may be enough, especially consider the iPod touch can download the very same App Store offerings available to the iPhone. If you don't anticipate making phone calls from your iOS device, the iPod touch represents a cheap way to stay connected to Apple's vast iOS ecosystem, without having to pay big bucks for an iPhone.