How to pick the right iPhone for you

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Tech Guide

How to pick the right iPhone for you

  • Apple sells different iPhones, which can make choosing the one for you kind of tough.
  • You'll need to pick from the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s/iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8/iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X
  • We help you determine which iPhone model is best for you.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple sells eight different models of the iPhone, ranging from the iPhone SE all the way up to the most premium iPhone X.

As CNBC's gadget reviewer, I'm frequently asked: "Todd, which iPhone should I buy?" It's a tough question to answer, since it really depends on how much you want to spend and what you expect out of your iPhone.

Do you need the very best? Do you prefer smaller screens? Don't worry, I got you covered. Here's how to decide which iPhone is best for you, starting from the cheapest up to the most grand.

iPhone SE

Handout: iPhone SE
Apple

The iPhone SE is starting to show its age, and rumors suggest Apple will refresh it in the coming months. I recommend most people hold off on buying it unless you really don't care about having an outdated smartphone. It's compelling for folks who like small screens, since it has a 4-inch display that's the smallest Apple offers. It's also the most affordable, starting at $349.

Price: $349 and up

Buy now: iPhone SE

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

The Apple 6S and 6S Plus iPhones
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters
The Apple 6S and 6S Plus iPhones

These are still decent iPhones and are best for anyone who wants an iPhone and access to iMessage but doesn't want to spend too much. You get a choice between the 4.7-inch model, which starts at $449, and the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus that starts at $549. Those are great prices for phones that still offer excellent cameras and features, but which are starting to show their age, but most folks should consider one step up.

Price: $449 and up

Buy now: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

CNBC Tech: iPhone 7
Todd Haselton | CNBC

These are perfect mid-range iPhones for most people. In fact, anyone who owns an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus probably doesn't need to upgrade to the newer iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus just yet -- the features are relatively similar. You should buy them if you can spend a bit more than the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, since they're newer and will be updated longer than those phones. Plus, the iPhone 7 starts at the same price as the iPhone 6s Plus ($549) while the iPhone 7 Plus starts at $669. Want most of the latest features without splurging? These are for you.

Price: $549 and up

Buy now: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
Nina Raja | CNBC
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Apple launched three new phones this year, including the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus don't have the fancy new colorful OLED screen on the iPhone X, or face recognition, but they offer the same processor and wireless charging found in the iPhone X. These phones are best for folks who like Apple's older design language but still want most of the latest parts and who don't care for the iPhone X. iPhone 8 Plus owners should also expect some of the best battery life of any iPhone out there, even better than the iPhone X. They're priced at a premium, starting at $699 for the iPhone 8 and $799 for the iPhone 8 Plus, but are still at least $200 cheaper than the top-of-the-line iPhone.

Price: $699 and up

Buy now: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

iPhone X

That brings us to the iPhone X. This is for the folks who want it all and who don't flinch at the $999 starting price. You'll get a brand new OLED display that runs edge-to-edge, Apple's new Face ID recognition technology that replaces the home button and fingerprint reader, the best cameras Apple has ever crammed into a smartphone (better on the front and back), wireless charging, Apple's fun new animoji and a phone that'll turn heads. It's my current favorite smartphone, though I miss the battery life of the iPhone 8 Plus I also purchased. If that's a concern, maybe consider the 8 Plus instead.

Price: $999 and up

Buy now: iPhone X

Disclosure: CNBC has affiliate relationships with some retailers so in some cases, if you purchase an item, we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchase. This holiday season, the proceeds will be donated to the Council for Economic Education, which supports economic and financial education.