If you’re like many USA TO­DAY read­ers, you’ve prob­a­bly been ask­ing SAN FRAN­CISCO this ques­tion: So many i-Phones, which one is for me? There’s the $999 iPhone X, the $699 iPhone 8 and $799 8-Plus. But you can also down­scale to last year’s now cheaper mode

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Jef­fer­son Gra­ham @jef­fer­songra­ham USA TO­DAY

IPHONE SE ($349)

For now, our ver­dict, and it’s an easy one: The best deal Ap­ple has right now isn’t for one of the shiny new phones with all the bells and whis­tles, but a good, re­li­able clas­sic, the SE. That’s the 2016 model that was in­tro­duced for those who didn’t want a larger iPhone. You still get the lat­est soft­ware up­dates, the abil­ity to pay for goods with Ap­ple Pay and a de­cent cam­era. It has the A9 pro­cess­ing chip, which Ap­ple would have you be­lieve is slow and not as fast as the oth­ers. In our ex­pe­ri­ence (we have an SE in the fam­ily), the phone per­forms just fine.

So you won’t be able to un­lock the screen with your eyes or cre­ate an­i­mated emo­jis from your fa­cial ex­pres­sions, like with the new X, which will be out in Novem­ber. But you’ll save $650. (You won’t be able to en­joy any of the 10,000 or so new aug­mented re­al­ity apps that mix an­i­ma­tion with real life in the SE. For those, you’ll need the models listed be­low.)

The prices listed re­flect pay­ing full price. The car­ri­ers and Ap­ple of­fer fi­nanced deals that av­er­age be­tween $20 to $30 a month.

Let’s look at the rest of the lineup:

IPHONE 6S ($449) AND 6S PLUS ($549)

The iPhone 6 models (first in­tro­duced in 2014) no longer are be­ing sold. The num­ber models start with the 6S (first sold in 2015), and th­ese models have 4.7-inch and 5.5inch screens, re­spec­tively. So they’re larger than the SE, have bet­ter stor­age op­tions (start­ing at 32 GB) than when first re­leased (at a puny 16 GB), and if you’re fan of plug­ging head­phones into the beloved head­phone jack, the 6S and 6S Plus still have them. Th­ese models have the A9 pro­cess­ing chip.

IPHONE 7 ($549) AND 7 PLUS ($669)

Th­ese models come with 32 GB of stor­age and are great phones. Both have the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens as the 6S and 6S Plus, and the Plus model has the best cam­era Ap­ple has re­leased to date, with a dual lens sys­tem that of­fers both the tra­di­tional wider an­gle view and a por­trait lens for close-ups. The 7 models have the more pow­er­ful A10 pro­cess­ing chip and are wa­ter re­sis­tant. If you’re look­ing at the 7 Plus as a cam­era-first phone, you might con­sider up­ping the stor­age — for $769 you get four times the amount to keep your 4K videos and all those self­ies with 128 GB.

IPHONE 8 ($699) AND 8 PLUS ($799)

Now we’re get­ting into pricey ter­ri­tory. The new models (out Sept. 22) are ba­si­cally the 7 and 7 Plus with a bet­ter pro­cess­ing chip, a “glass de­sign” and the abil­ity to charge the phones with a wire­less charg­ing pad (an ac­ces­sory that will set you back $59.99). The Plus model also has an­other im­proved cam­era and a cool new soft­ware fea­ture called “Por­trait Light­ing” that ad­justs the im­age ac­cord­ingly in low light and pulls in some fun soft­ware tricks, like the abil­ity to elim­i­nate, say, the back­ground of a photo. Both models come with ex­panded starter stor­age, at 64 GBs.

IPHONE X ($999)

The lat­est and great­est iPhone, with a larger screen (5.8 inches) made from OLED glass, (Ap­ple calls it “Su­per Retina”) which is sharper and higher def­i­ni­tion than other i-Phones and an edge-to-edge body that elim­i­nates the bezels. Fun new fea­tures like we men­tioned — you can un­lock the phone with your eye, and there’s this cool cam­era trick that lets you gen­er­ate An­i­mo­jis — an­i­mated char­ac­ters based on your fa­cial ex­pres­sions. You get the same cam­era as the 8 Plus and a new A11 “Bionic” chip, which Ap­ple calls the “most pow­er­ful” chip ever in a smart­phone. Add ex­tra stor­age to this iPhone and you’re look­ing at $1,149 with 256 GB of stor­age.


u-Buy­ing for a stu­dent or is it a re­place­ment phone? The SE, in a nanosec­ond.

uA pur­chase for the per­son who has to have the lat­est and great­est: Easy. It’s the X.

uThe photo buff: the 7 Plus cam­era is the best in any smart­phone, for our money. The 8 Plus is ba­si­cally the same cam­era, with a new soft­ware tool that will cer­tainly be passed down to other gen­er­a­tions in the com­ing months. So as much as I like the “Por­trait Light­ing,” trick, I’d prob­a­bly spend the $669 for the 7 Plus in­stead of $799. On the other hand, the monthly rate is $27.88 for the 7 Plus or $39.50 for the 8 Plus. That’s only an ex­tra $11.62 monthly for bet­ter pho­tos that will make your In­sta­gram fans drool. Hm­mmm.

uYou want to par­take in Aug­mented Re­al­ity, still have an older iPhone 5, 5S or 6 that won’t work with the new apps and just don’t feel like splurg­ing for the new 8s. The 6S at $449 is the sec­ond-best deal of the bunch, a rel­a­tively cur­rent phone with the same screen size as the iPhone 7 and 8 models. And it will run the apps.


iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look sim­i­lar to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.


The iPhone 7 cam­era is tops.


iPhone SE


If you’re think­ing of an older model, re­mem­ber that Ap­ple only keeps cer­tain models cur­rent for a set pe­riod of time and then sun­sets them.

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