Apple’s newest iPhone is here, and you’ve got just a few short hours (12:01am PT) to figure out which one is the absolute best deal. Although Apple didn’t change up design much, the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 7's have more points of contrast than just size this time around.
So, which one is the best for most people? Which carrier? WHAT? We’re here to help.
For most people...
Buy the 128GB non-glossy black 4.7-inch iPhone 7 on Verizon.
Why iPhone 7?
The decision between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was incredibly tough this year, but the reality is that the iPhone’s bigger size is still polarizing for most would-be iPhone users. For $120 more, you do get an extra telephoto lens for better zoom and depth mapping. But in day-to-day smartphone usage, zoom isn’t that important and you can easily add bokeh effects in post with a variety of photo apps if it’s something you really, really need.
But the normal iPhone 7 camera is getting all the upgrades that really matter. This time around, the smaller phone has optical image stabilization as well as the much improved f/1.8 aperture lens and quad-LED flash. This should make either camera an absolute champion in low-light scenarios, so why spend more?
Despite some of Apple’s more head-scratching decisions regarding the iPhone 7, its updated storage is a 100 percent blessing. For years, we’ve been saying that 16GB phones simply aren’t good enough—and now we’re going to say the same for 32GB.
Annoying, right? Let me explain. Like last year, if you want to upgrade to the next storage tier iPhone it costs you a cool Benjamin. But what’s changed this year is how much storage you’re getting for that $100. Instead of jumping only 48GB, you now jump a whopping 96GB.
Keep in mind that the iPhone 7 can shoot RAW photos and 4K videos, which eat up tons of storage space. And remember that the iPhone has no expandable memory slot. If there was ever a time to spring for that extra storage, now is the time. Apple has made the offer more tempting than ever.
If you’re looking to switch carriers, Verizon is likely the best bet as it still offers the broadest LTE coverage everywhere in the US. Make note that this isn’t necessarily speaking to the astounding customer service of the carrier or anything. But Wirecutter and LTE surveyor OpenSignal both agree that when it comes to broad LTE coverage and price per GB of data, the winner is Verizon.
Why not glossy black?
Listen. I know glossy black looks great and it’s unlike any iPhone that’s come before it. But if you’re someone who likes to operate sans case, choosing Apple’s new jet black iPhone is probably a bad idea. Apple’s hidden in the fine print that the new finish is much more prone to scratching than the other aluminum options.
If you’re going to put a case on it, that’s fine...but then the finish doesn’t really matter to begin with.
There are exceptions...
Why an iPhone 7 Plus?
For those comfortable with bigger phones and have a strong desire to be on the cutting edge of mobile photography, the choice is obvious. Go big or go home. If you’re also somewhat of a power user, the iPhone 7 Plus has slightly better battery numbers as reported by Apple.
Why Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program?
Although not the most cost effective, Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program works with all major carriers, ensures you get the latest iPhone every year, and comes with AppleCare+ included.
We’ve already broken down Apple’s new AppleCare deal and found it’s actually worth it if you’re not technically savvy enough to replace iPhone parts yourself.
But if you’re a more enterprising individual, you can likely save more money by looking for the very best trade-in deals when upgrading to a new phone instead of just paying Apple $32 a month. It’s convenience for a price.
Why the cheaper 32GB model?
If you’re looking to save some money or you’re a part of Apple’s Upgrade Plan, 32GB will treat you just fine. And if you’re somewhat mobile savvy, you stretch that space with apps like Google Photos.
The decision between T-Mobile and Verizon is really based on where you live. If you’re a city dweller and want the cheapest possible iPhone 7 you can get, go with T-Mobile. It’s currently offering the absolute best iPhone trade-in program for the iPhone 7. If you have a working iPhone 6 or 6s (without a shattered display), you can trade in for a 32GB iPhone 7 for absolutely no charge. If you want to spring for 128GB (you should), then it’ll only cost you $100.
But Verizon remains the most broadly reliable and therefore the one we have to recommend. But for a very certain someone, T-Mobile could be a great choice. It’s also worth considering a data-capped Simple Choice plan instead of T-Mobile’s new One plans, which offer “unlimited” data with a dizzying amount of caveats.
Sprint does offer a good deal with its iPhone Forever program, but you’ll be dealing with a network that’s struggling to keep up with the other three carriers.
Only if you’re grandfathered into an Unlimited plan. Other than that, AT&T isn’t a good deal.
Why glossy black?
Because it looks awesome, scratches be damned.