iPhone Basics: Buying an iPhone

Lesson 2: Buying an iPhone


So you want an iPhone

Apple's iPhone has become a widely popular device since its launch in 2007. Before you purchase an iPhone, however, you should familiarize yourself with the different options you have to choose from. This includes deciding on a monthly cellular contract and where you're going to purchase your iPhone—either online, from Apple, or from another retailer.

Understanding your options

There are a variety of iPhone options available right now.

  • iPhone XR and iPhone XS: These versions are fairly similar to one another. Unlike previous iPhone models, they have an all-screen display, meaning the entire front of the phone is one big screen with no Home button. They're more expensive than their predecessors, but they perform better and have extra features not available with older versions, including Face ID and better display screens.
  • Older versions: Apple still sells previous iPhone models as well. Their technology is slightly older, but they still perform well and are also less expensive than the newer versions.

Visit Apple.com to compare iPhone models and see different models side by side.

Which model is right for you?

If you're still not sure which model you want, take some time to think about the features that are most important to you and how they fit within your budget. Things to consider before you buy include a cellular service contract (can you afford a monthly cellular phone bill?) and data storage (do you need a lot or just a little?).

Cellular service contract

To place phone calls with your iPhone, you'll need to purchase cellular phone service. Cellular service providers offer a variety of calling plans to fit your budget and lifestyle, but it can sometimes be difficult to choose one plan in particular. Certain third-party websites, like whistleOut and Wirefly, can help make this choice easier by allowing you to choose certain features you're looking for and providing you with a list of plans that match your criteria.

If you aren't ready for a new cell phone or cellular service contract, the iPod Touch might be an option for you. It has most of the features of an iPhone but cannot be used to make phone calls or send text messages. You can, however, connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi and download apps from the App Store.

Data storage

There are several ways to approach storing data on your iPhone. Here are some things to think about before making a decision:

  • At 64GB (64 gigabytes of memory), the smallest model has enough data storage for many users. However, if you anticipate storing a lot of music, movies, and TV shows on your device, you may want to purchase the 128GB or 256GB model instead.
  • If you truly need a lot of storage, look into Apple's iCloud service before purchasing one of the larger, more expensive models. iCloud allows you to store your media in the cloud (in other words, online), so you don't have to worry about storing it on your device. We'll take a closer look at iCloud in our lesson on Syncing Your iPhone.

For more help making a decision, you can always ask an associate at your local Apple Store for advice. You can also call 1-800-MY-APPLE for more information on the product you're interested in.

When you're ready to buy

When you're ready to make your purchase, you have several options. Depending on your preference, you can purchase your iPhone and sign up for a cellular service plan by:

Your decision will probably come down to the provider that has the iPhone you want in stock and the cellular service plan that works for you. You might find yourself doing a little bit of research to find a suitable plan before buying your new iPhone.

Be wary of any sales, promotions, or contest giveaways that sound too good to be true. Because the iPhone is in high demand, there will always be scammers and other disreputable sellers—especially online—who will try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. When in doubt, purchase your device from a well-known retailer.