What Is The Best iPhone? Spoiler: It's NOT The iPhone 8

Paul Briden

15/02/2018 – 10:21am

If you're shopping for an iPhone, what is best for you? We break it down…

Apple currently has more different variations of iPhone handset in its portfolio than at any point in the firm’s history – and we’re not just talking about supported devices here – nope, we mean handsets that it lists for sale in its online webstore and which it has in stock in its bricks ‘n mortar retail stores too.

The full list of phones you can currently buy includes the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and the current lead model; the iPhone X.

But which one is best? Well, a better question would be; which is best for you?

iPhone SE

It’s fair to say that if you’re shopping for a new iPhone, even the cheapest iPhone, you’re not really “on a budget” by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, all new iPhones are expensive. The iPhone SE, however, is certainly the most affordable of the entire range, with an RRP of $349, making it potentially the best choice if you do insist on partaking in Apple’s ecosystem, as well as its unique blend of design, hardware and software as presented on its phones, but also want to spend as little as possible; something more in mid-rage Android price territory. Or if you just want that Apple logo on your device at the lowest possible outlay.

That said, another good reason why you might find the iPhone SE the best iPhone for you, is if you’re an Apple fan, want in on its services, software, and the level of polish it brings to its phones, but are absolutely sure you want a smaller screen. The iPhone SE is the only model available with the older size 4in display, making it much more pocket friendly than the rest of the line-up, which range from 4.7in on the regular editions, up to 5.5in on the Plus models, and up to 5.8in on the iPhone X (though admittedly squeezed into a smaller shell in an edge-to-edge arrangement).

The iPhone SE has been on the market for a little while now, but as with many Apple products, the hardware has been engineered carefully and the firm continually refines new editions of the iOS software to be just as well optimised to it now, with added features, services and interface tweaks, as it was at launch.
This smaller iPhone with a less demanding touch display is much kinder to battery life than many modern “phablet” size devices, which require enormous battery cells just to keep in the same ballpark. Being a lower cost model doesn’t mean it holds back in key areas where things really matter either, the camera quality on the iPhone SE is superb, as is the sharpness, colour, and clarity of the Retina display. Processor performance is decent too, thanks to Apple’s carefully curated software ecosystem.

To give you an indication of what’s good about the iPhone SE, here are some excerpts from our original review:

“Where this phone really comes into its own is performance, imaging and battery life. Plus you get all the rich trappings of Apple’s brilliant ecosystem, which, in many ways, cannot be equaled.”

“The iPhone SE is a solid, solid performer across the board. It does everything you want it to and performs like an absolute champ! I have no qualms recommending this handset to anyone that is looking for a smaller, but equally powerful handset.”

iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus

If you’re not in the market for the very latest and greatest – and most expensive – iPhone X, but still want an iPhone, and yet don’t want an itty-bitty 4in touchscreen from the iPhone SE, you’re left looking at the rest of Apple’s current range, which basically consists of the iPhone 6s series, the iPhone 7 series, and the brand new iPhone 8 series.

We find it pretty much impossible to recommend the iPhone 8 and its larger sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus. Essentially, Apple really dropped the ball here on a number of fronts. It clearly spent too much time focusing on the iPhone X, as the specs and features between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 hardly seem like an upgrade at all.

At the same time, the iPhone 8 costs considerably more than the iPhone 7 – $699 and $799 for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus respectively vs $549 and $669 for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus – while not offering much that is new. And lastly, on the subject of bashing the iPhone 8, it is riddled with bugs and production faults, according to multiple widely circulated reports from users and reviewers alike.

That being the case, you could and probably should follow the tune of millions of other consumers who turned their noses up at the iPhone X and iPhone 8 after their launch, and opt for the year-old iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus instead. You’ll save a ton of money, get most of the same features (particularly the really good ones), with fewer headaches.

And if you want to save EVEN more cash, check out reconditioned units via Gazelle – they’re around 40% cheaper than new RRP

What about the iPhone 6s series?

Well sure, you could go for one of those instead, and it would be cheaper still ($449 or $549 for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s respectively). However, the difference in quality in terms of processor performance and camera performance between the iPhone 6s series and the iPhone 7 series is much more substantial than it is between the iPhone 7 series and the iPhone 8 series. Basically, the iPhone 7 series is actually worth the extra money, while the iPhone 8 series is not.

What about choosing the iPhone 7 vs the iPhone 7 Plus?

Ah well, that’s a much trickier question. Swings and roundabouts, I’m afraid. On the one hand, the iPhone 7 is much cheaper than its larger stable-mate, and it’s also smaller and easier for your hand and pocket. However, the iPhone 7 Plus has a superior dual-sensor camera and, more importantly in our view, a substantial difference in battery life. The iPhone 7 Plus (indeed, most iPhone Plus models) will see you going far longer than their smaller counterparts.

Here at KYM we’d likely take the iPhone 7 Plus first every day of the week, because we’re used to bigger phones by now and we love high-end cameras and BIG battery life – saying that in a hypothetical “money no object” sense, otherwise we probably wouldn’t be in the market for an iPhone at all!

Ultimately for us that means if you’re stumping up the money for a new iPhone you might as well go hard or go home (though not paying money for not much extra, as with the iPhone 8).

But then if you’re doing that, then, well…

iPhone X

What a convenient segway that was. Yes, this is where to go if you’re fully taking the padlock off your wallet and are “all in” on the Apple iPhone game. This is the big mac daddy with all the latest bells and whistles. And it comes at a price. A very high price. The highest price of any iPhone ever, in fact.

With the iPhone X there’s only one display size to fit all – the 5.8in OLED – so there’s no quibbling about Plus editions or anything like that. The starting price though, is $999, and that’s just the 64GB version. If you want the fancy pants 256GB version you’re looking at a LOT of money: $1,149 to be precise. Ouch.

For all that money you’d hope this phone would be the very best Apple has to offer, crammed full of next-gen tech, and far and away superior to all the other models in terms of features and capabilities.

And it is, really, I mean, it has much faster performance than all the others, it is the ONLY iPhone with an utterly gorgeous OLED touch display, the design is inspired, the camera is superbly capable of capturing stunning imaging, and it has some pretty whizzy 3D face scanning security to boot. The battery life is decent, but it doesn’t outperform the Plus models of the iPhone family.

There’s no doubt the iPhone X is the best iPhone. But it might not be the best iPhone for you…

The expense is undoubtedly going to be off-putting for some, and it is perhaps priced higher than it should be. But at least here, unlike with the iPhone 8, you at least feel like you’re getting something special for that outlay – you can see where the money has gone. In that sense it is closer to a true iPhone 7 successor than the iPhone 8 as it actually improves on the formula visibly.

You can pick up ALL of Apple’s iPhones – save for the iPhone X – via Gazelle for around 40% less than you’d pay directly from Apple. 

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