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Best iPhone under £500: Top Budget iPhone (it’s not the SE!) 2021

Buy Your Next iPhone for Less Than You Think - Save £££s

how to get a cheap apple iphone in the uk

There’s no such thing as a cheap iPhone. But if your current smartphone is made by Apple, the chances are your next mobile will be an iPhone too. There’s plenty to like about Apple products. Once you use them, you tend to get hooked and there’s no turning back! 

Alternatively, if you’d rather save a few quid, but want to buy an amazing mobile phone for a fraction of the cost, take a look at the best mobile phones from the likes of Samsung and Google, by clicking here.

Sticking with Apple

Choosing the best Apple phone, unquestionably, involves spending big. At the top of the range, the iPhone 12 Pro costs an eye-watering £1399. Yes, the phone is amazing, but few of us can afford such a device. 

Looking at the other end (entry-level), Apple has released the new SE for less than £400. However, this is hard to recommend. The processor is ok, but the specification is below that of the iPhone X.

What is the cheapest way to get an iPhone?

Fortunately, there’s a better way. A cheap Apple phone may not be a thing, but you can certainly buy one for less than you think. Lots of people are happy to sign long and expensive contracts to get the latest ‘must-have’ Apple phone. This means older models are being resold at big discounts. Buying a refurbished mobile phone doesn’t get you the fancy packaging. But it does mean that you can get a great iPhone for less than you think. Think of it as choosing a ‘nearly new’ car rather than paying a huge premium for showroom condition and zero miles.

Best Buy Cheap Apple iPhone under £500 Recommended Verum Verdicts UK
iPhone X refurbished – Best Cheap iPhone

Best Apple Phone under £300:
iPhone X refurbished

With an excellent  5.8” screen set into a stainless steel frame, owners and admirers agree that the iPhone X continues to look and feel fantastic. 

What about the iPhone SE?

The new iPhone SE matches the refurbished X in terms of price. And the SE has a better processor. However, the X has a bigger & better screen, Face ID and superior cameras – The X is the better iPhone.

The decision here is similar to buying a one-year-old BMW in preference to a new Ford. If you want a brand new iPhone for less than £500, choose the iPhone SE. But if you want the best Apple phone for less than £300, buy a refurbished iPhone X.

Before the iPhone X release, there was a view that Apple was falling behind. Hence no iPhone9 and a big jump in specification and features. The Super Retina display has an incredible 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (compared to 1400:1 on the iPhone8 and XR). This super bright and high-resolution display is made even better by Apple removing the home button. As the image shows, the screen stretches full width and height, with a notch at the top for the front-facing camera.

Three cameras

The front-facing camera is 7MP and comes with Retina Flash for low light. Plus, auto HDR for amazing contrast, portrait mode and the ability to shoot video at 1080p HD (30fps). Turn the iPhone X around and you have two 12MP cameras on the back. One wide-angle and the second telephoto. There’s an array of features and clever software to help capture and refine every shot. Plus, it will shoot 4k video at 60 fps (frames per second).

The battery in the iPhone X is a shade under 3000mAh. This is around 50% bigger than the seven or eight battery – Apple state that the iPhone X will stay charged for up to two hours longer than the iPhone7.

This model uses FaceID to unlock and is rated at IP67. This means that it’s waterproof to a depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes.

The iPhone X is the budget model to choose. Assuming you can go without the ‘new’ packaging and are happy to save big – buy the refurbished iPhone X.

iPhone X Refurbished
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Best Buy Cheap Apple iPhone under £700 Recommended Verum Verdicts UK
iPhone XR – Best iPhone under £500

Best Apple Phone under £500:
iPhone XR

The iPhone XR is an amazing mobile phone. And for anyone familiar with Apple prices, getting this model for less than £500 can be described as good value! 

There’s plenty to like about the XR. Although, comparing it to the iPhone X, there are a few compromises – principally, the screen and camera. The screen at 6.1” is bigger than the iPhone X, it has fewer pixels and a much lower contrast ratio. That said, if you compare the XR display to your old phone, it’s probably a decent upgrade and unquestionably a great screen. It’s only by comparing, side-by-side that you will notice the difference. 

The iPhone XR has a single 12MP wide camera. There’s no telephoto lens, which may be a compromise too far if you like taking lots of close-ups. That said, for most of us, the camera is actually, pretty good. 

The battery is slightly bigger than the X. The XR will certainly match, if not outperform the X for battery life. Plus, the XR has a better processor. In other regards, X & XR are similar. The choice between the two is really about the camera, newness and price. If you want to spend less and get a better camera, choose the X. However, if getting a brand new Apple phone is all-important, buy the iPhone XR.

iPhone XR
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iphone 12 hero image showing 5 colours uk
iPhone 12 Pro – Is this the best mobile phone money can buy?

Best Apple Phone:
iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone12 Pro is the best Apple phone money can buy. It will, however, cost you over a grand. The specifications are good and coupled with incredible Apple software, this mobile delivers super impressive results. 

Three cameras on the back, wide, ultrawide & telephoto, do the optical work with the phone’s software instantly delivers your picture. There’s an ongoing debate on whether the iPhone 12 Pro or Samsung S20 has the better camera, but it’s tough to choose. Much in the same way, most professional photographers use either Nikon or Canon, they’re both excellent options. Also, with ongoing software updates, the photographs on mobile phones continue to improve – even beyond the purchase. 

Video is captured front and back in 4k at 60fps. Plus, video stabilisation along with a host of other features make not only your photos but also video look amazing. 

The 6.1” screen has a similar resolution as the X, but double the contrast ratio. Owners of the iPhone 12 Pro, rave about the screen – and rightly so. 

The battery is good. It’s better than any other normal-sized Apple phone and will stay charged throughout the day. The processor is a step-up from the XR and along with the screen, it’s managed by clever software to help maintain battery level. 

There is something very special about owning and using the very best iPhone. Should your budget stretch this far, you couldn’t possibly be disappointed with the amazing iPhone 12 Pro.  

iPhone 12 Pro
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Buying a Refurbished or Renewed iPhone

If you decide that saving money with a refurbished iPhone is right for you, there are a few things to check. Firstly, buy from a reputable supplier. Make sure the phone is unlocked and there’s a robust returns policy. An unlocked mobile phone means that you can use it on any network rather than being tied to a single network.

Most people take delivery of a great phone first time, but if you don’t, it’s important to send it straight back. The good resellers care about their customers and reviews – they’ll send you a replacement or give you a refund if you’re not happy. 

It’s also worth considering that all batteries degrade with age. This is clearly a compromise with a refurbished model along with the lack of Apple packaging and that ‘new’ feeling. However, when you consider that the X originally cost around a grand, you’re actually getting your ‘nearly new’ iPhone half-price!

Best Buys

Best Buy Cheap Apple iPhone under £500 Recommended Verum Verdicts UK

Best cheap iPhone
iPhone X refurbished
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Best Buy Cheap Apple iPhone under £700 Recommended Verum Verdicts UK

Budget new iPhone
iPhone XR
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iphone 12 hero image showing 5 colours uk

The best iPhone
iPhone 12 Pro
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No Contract Required

Verum compares iPhones based on the handset. Contracts may spread the payments but usually end up being more expensive. It usually works out better value to buy the handset and then choose a carrier based on your data and minutes requirements.

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