Which iPhone Should You Buy?

by Sarah Dobson on November 06, 2017

Apple recently released three new iPhones—the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X—while dropping prices on the older iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, and 7 Plus. With so many models available, it can be dizzying to decide which is right for you, so we’ll sort them out by size, age, key features, and camera capabilities.

Size, Weight, and Screen

Size is an important factor for people with particularly small or large hands, or for those who like to carry the iPhone in a pocket. Weight is closely coupled with size, but makes less of a difference—all these iPhones are fairly light.

As you can see in the chart, the iPhone SE is the smallest, while the models with “Plus” in their names are the largest. The other non-Plus iPhones sit in the middle. The new iPhone X is an outlier—its dimensions are close to those of the mid-sized models, but its screen is even larger than the Plus models’ screens.

If you’re not sure what you prefer, visit our store to try our demo models.

Age and Capabilities

All these iPhone models are completely functional and compatible with both iOS 11 and Apple’s other devices, but you can save money by buying an older iPhone. The tradeoff is that older models have slower chips and tend to have less storage. And, of course, they’ll become obsolete sooner. We generally recommend the newest iPhone that you can afford comfortably, because it will provide the best performance for the longest time.

Key Features

If you want a small iPhone, the iPhone SE is the obvious choice. Unfortunately, it lacks all the hardware and camera features described next, as well as 3D Touch and Live Photos. Plus, its front-facing FaceTime camera is only 1.2 megapixels, far less than any of the other models. Nonetheless, if you strongly prefer the size of the iPhone SE, its limitations are unlikely to matter to you.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus introduced these hardware changes:

  • The iPhone 7 and newer are resistant to damage from water and dust. Don’t try this at home, but these iPhones should survive being dropped in shallow water, like a sink or kiddie pool. 
  • Starting with the iPhone 7, Apple removed the 35mm headphone jack. To connect headphones, you must use either the Lightning connector port (possibly with an adapter) or Bluetooth headphones, such as Apple’s highly rated AirPods.

The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X go even further, with these improvements:

  • True Tone makes the screen less reflective and able to show more colors, and more vivid colors, than previous iPhone screens. The screen can also adjust its white point and brightness automatically, based on input from light sensors. For most people, this makes the screen easier to see more of the time. 
  • A new fast-charge feature can put more power into your iPhone battery faster. According to Apple, this helps an iPhone reach a 50% charge in 30 minutes. (Fast charging requires different charging accessories than those that come with the iPhone—ask about this when you shop.) 
  • Although these iPhones can charge with a Lightning cable, they can also charge wirelessly on inductive surfaces that use the Qi charging standard, such as the Belkin BOOSTUP Wireless Charging Pad.

The iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) marks the iPhone’s tenth anniversary and demonstrates Apple’s latest innovations. It is the first Apple device with an OLED screen, making for better visuals—more pixels, more colors, and more contrast. The screen covers most of the front of the phone, taking over the Home button area. There’s neither a Home button nor a TouchID fingerprint sensor. Instead, iPhone X users sign in with Apple’s new Face ID facial-recognition system, which works even in the dark. The iPhone X also boasts the same dual-camera features as the Plus models, but in a smaller form factor.


For many people, the camera is the most important aspect of an iPhone. All these iPhones have a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera and work well for everyday photos and videos. However, Apple keeps improving the underlying sensors and image processing capabilities, so newer iPhones usually take higher quality photos and videos than older models.

If you’re particularly interested in photography, note that the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and X have two rear-facing cameras, one with a general-use f/1.8 lens and the other with a telephoto lens (f/2.8 in the 7 Plus and 8 Plus, f/2.4 in the X). The Camera app uses these cameras to provide Portrait mode, which blurs the background behind the subject, and the new Portrait Lighting mode (in the iPhone 8 Plus and X), which lets you change the lighting of a scene.

What to Buy

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting the latest and greatest, but even the oldest of these models is essentially magic, putting an Internet-connected supercomputer and high-quality video and still photo camera in your pocket. The newer models offer even more features and the best possible iPhone experience. No matter what you pick, we think you’ll enjoy your new iPhone!