No iPhone SE? No problem: This is the 'budget' iPhone to get

Apple may have discontinued its low-end model, but there's still an inexpensive option: A former flagship priced at just $379.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Say hello to Apple's new "budget" model: the iPhone 7.

Josh Miller

With all the hubbub surrounding the launch of the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max , it was easy to overlook another Apple development: No more iPhone SE .

In other words, no more "budget" option. The SE debuted at $399, but was cut to $349 with the arrival of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 last year.

What now? Are you going to have to pay hundreds more if you want an iPhone? Not quite: Apple's new "low-end" model is the iPhone 7 , which was just cut to $449. That's $200 less than when it debuted two years ago as Apple's then-flagship.

But, wait, it gets better: For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get a refurbished, unlocked iPhone 7 (32GB) for $379. That's within a stone's throw of the SE -- for a bigger, more powerful phone.

What's more, Apple's refurbs are literally good as new: New outer shell, new battery, full one-year warranty. There's zero downside to choosing a refurbished iPhone, at least when it's Apple doing the refurbishing.

So, how does the iPhone 7 compare with the iPhone SE? Fans of the latter will undoubtedly bemoan the former's larger size and lack of headphone jack. (Apple's product page says this refurb model still includes the Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle in the box -- something that's going away in factory fresh models.) I'd say that in return for an extra half-inch of body length (hardly a pocket-breaker), you get a bigger, brighter screen -- one that also supports 3D Touch.

Watch this: The top 5 tips for new iPhone 7 users

As for the headphone jack, well, yeah. I miss it, too. But you do get an adapter, so wired headphones aren't completely out of the picture. And you get the added benefit of a water-resistant design: The iPhone 7 can survive a dunk in the pool, toilet and so on.

Other perks include a faster processor and modem and better cameras. Want even more storage? A refurbished iPhone 7 with 128GB is available for $469. 

When you think of a "budget" iPhone, you tend to think it involves compromises. Just two years ago, the iPhone 7 was rolled out as Apple's flagship. Two years later, you can get one at a considerable savings. The iPhone SE may be gone, but this is an awfully good alternative.

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