iPhone buying guide 2021: How to pick the best iPhone per your budget today

Here’s your one-stop-shop guide to buying the best iPhone for you.

iPhone buying guide
So, which iPhone should you buy. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Apple “officially” sells eight different iPhone versions in India currently. These are the current-gen iPhone 13 series that spawns four models—iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Mini, along with the last-gen iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini. The older iPhone 11 and entry-level iPhone SE second-gen is also available for buying at the time of writing.

We can’t remember the last time Cupertino had so many iPhones for grabs in the country at the same time. The list doesn’t even cover the “unofficial” iPhones, like the iPhone XR, that you can get via third-party websites like Amazon, Flipkart, and others, sometimes with too-good-to-resist deals and offers attached, if you’re lucky (the modern-day iPhone(s), also, can be purchased at discounted rates from time to time on these e-commerce stores).

Having such a diverse lineup means, you can virtually get a brand-new iPhone (not refurbished ones, which were once the norm in India), across different price points today. In other words, you can get a new iPhone per your specific need, more specifically, per your budget easily and be rest assured that you’re getting full bang for your buck.

Buying the latest and greatest iPhone remains a pricey proposition in the country but buying an iPhone that you can afford isn’t a pipe dream anymore.

iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro India prices

iPhone 13 Pro MaxiPhone 13 Pro
1TBRs 1,79,900 Rs 1,69,900
512GB Rs 1,59,900 Rs 1,49,900
256GB Rs 1,39,900 Rs 1,29,900
128GB Rs 1,29,900 Rs 1,19,900

iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini India prices

iPhone 13iPhone 13 Mini
512GBRs 1,09,900Rs 99,900
256GBRs 89,900Rs 79,900
128GBRs 79,900Rs 69,900

iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini India prices

iPhone 12iPhone 12 Mini
256GBRs 80,900Rs 74,900
128GBRs 70,900Rs 64,900
64GBRs 65,900Rs 59,900

iPhone 11 India prices

128GBRs 54,900
64GBRs 49,900

iPhone SE second-gen India prices

128GBRs 44,900
64GBRs 39,900

Best iPhone that money can buy today

Obviously, this is the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This is the no holds barred iPhone you probably would—and rightly should—have your eyes on if money is not a constraint. That said, the iPhone 13 Pro is very similar to it in almost all the areas that you can think of, except the screen size and battery capacity. The 13 Pro Max has a bigger 6.7-inch display (versus 6.1-inch in the 13 Pro) and a bigger 4,352mAh battery (versus 3,095mAh in the 13 Pro) both of which, invariably, make it tad heavier (238g versus 208g) although, both have the same exact thickness—7.65mm.

The point is, even though the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the most high-end iPhone that Apple makes today, whether you’d end up buying it, would be completely subjective. Say, if you’re not comfortable with the 13 Pro Max’s size (it is after all, a handful) buying the smaller and relatively more pocketable iPhone 13 Pro, makes more sense. Apple has made great strides in battery life in both its new “pro” iPhones, this year, so even though the max would give you slightly better battery life, the 13 Pro is not very far behind.

Rest of the deal from processing power to the cameras, is standard across the board which makes the iPhone 13 Pro, actually, a very sound and logical option for many. It will be the best iPhone that money can buy for most people. For the most demanding user—think creators—though, the 13 Pro Max is the way to go.

Be sure to check our full iPhone 13 Pro Max/iPhone 13 Pro review here for step-by-step breakdown of all the features, specs, and other details.

Modern-day iPhone with best value

Ideally, this should have been the iPhone 13, but it’s its predecessor, the iPhone 12, that truly offers the best value proposition today. The iPhone 13, as we noted in our review, is more like an “S” update which is to say, it takes all the good things of the iPhone 12, adds some extra polish, and gives you a more refined, if a little familiar package.

If you can increase your budget a bit (that’s basically a Rs 9,000 jump between 128GB/256GB models), you can of course pick the iPhone 13 and it should serve you well but not everybody would have that kind of money. If that’s you, the iPhone 12 is definitely a steal deal that gives you best of both worlds—a modern iPhone at an affordable price. Be sure to be doubly sure about your storage needs though.

Since iPhones are generally a long-term investment and with Apple’s excellent software support, you expect these things to last you for four years or more, at least. Get the 128GB model if you can.

Alternatively, if you have an iPhone 13-like budget at your disposal and you’re lucky, you can also get the pro iPhone 12 at around similar prices online from time to time. You should get the iPhone 12 Pro, in that case.  

Be sure to check our full iPhone 12 Pro review here for step-by-step breakdown of all the features, specs, and other details.

Best “small” iPhone in market today

The iPhone 13 Mini is the best small iPhone to get right now. The price tag may be on the higher side, but it’s worth it in every sense of the word. Not a lot of good “pocket-rocket” phones exist in the market today. The iPhone 13 Mini is a breath of fresh air. The form factor is exquisite. The performance, phenomenal. The cameras, though they are not at the same level as the pro iPhone 13s, are still brilliant. The battery life, more importantly, is better than the iPhone 12 Mini which, is a big factor to consider it over its predecessor.

But whichever “mini” you end up buying, remember, there’s only so much battery anybody can fit inside a phone with a 5.4-inch screen. Some compromises just can’t be avoided. For what it’s worth, Apple did put in a slightly bigger battery (2,406mAh) inside the iPhone 13 Mini.

Be sure to check our full iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini review here for step-by-step breakdown of all the features, specs, and other details.

Best “cheap” iPhone to buy

There are two of those, that you can consider. One is of course the iPhone 11. At a price of around Rs 50,000, it’s a terrific buy for what’s inside. Alternatively, you can get the iPhone XR (64GB) for as low as Rs 34,999 on websites like Amazon India. The iPhone XR was launched in 2018 alongside the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max bringing a lot of their top-of-the-line features to a relatively more affordable price point. The phone was launched at a whopping Rs 76,900 in India though. The iPhone XR may have been around for a while, but it’s an excellent buy for anybody looking to get onboard the iPhone bandwagon for the first time, or someone looking for a good-old iPhone without breaking a bank.

Be sure to check our full iPhone 12 Mini review here for step-by-step breakdown of all the features, specs, and other details.

One more thing

But what if you’re old-school and want an iPhone from the past, of course, with modern-day innards, for some curious reason—old habits die hard after all—Apple continues to sell the iPhone SE in India. This is the most affordable iPhone that Apple makes today. While not an instant recommendation—probably why Apple has officially discontinued the iPhone XR in India—it should find takers, however niche, and for those, the hardware-software combo would be very hard to beat next to any new Android phone around its price point.

Be sure to check our full iPhone SE review here for step-by-step breakdown of all the features, specs, and other details.

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