The best iPhone deals happening right now, including 50% off the iPhone 12 Mini with a new line at AT&T

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Apple iPhone Deals 2x1
  • Apple’s iPhones are pricey, but you can often find them at a discount.
  • Some of the best iPhone deals available now include big savings on the iPhone 11 and 2020 iPhone SE.

With so many Apple iPhone models to choose from, it can be confusing to find the right one for your needs. With that in mind, we tested and ranked the best iPhones to help you choose. They can get pricey, though, so it’s always nice to buy with a discount.

You can find deals on many iPhone models throughout the year. Apple’s smartphone lineup currently includes the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 11, and iPhone SE. The latest generation isn’t seeing discounts just yet, but there are plenty of deals to shop on older models.

Check out the table of contents to the left to hop to deals for a specific model.

Comparing iPhone models

Average price Camera lenses Display size CPU 5G Battery life with video playback
iPhone 13 $699 to $799 2 5.4- or 6.1-inch A15 Bionic Y Up to 19 hours
iPhone 13 Pro $999 to $1,099 3 6.1- or 6.7-inch A15 Bionic Y Up to 28 hours
iPhone 12 $699 to $799 2 5.4- or 6.1-inch A14 Bionic Y Up to 17 hours
iPhone 12 Pro $999 to $1,099 3 6.1- or 6.7- inch A14 Bionic Y Up to 20 hours
iPhone SE $399 1 4.7-inch A13 Bionic N Up to 13 hours
iPhone XR $499

1

6.1-inch A12 Bionic N Up to 16 hours
iPhone 11 $499 2 6.1-inch A13 Bionic N Up to 17 hours
iPhone 11 Pro $899 to $999 3 5.8-inch A13 Bionic N Up to 20 hours

Of course, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best one for you, so check out our guides to the best iPhones and the best smartphones to help narrow your options down.

We’ll update this list as new deals surface.

The best iPhone deals happening now

iPhone 12 Mini (medium, Preferred: AT&T)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) (medium, Preferred: Verizon)iPhone 11 (medium, Preferred: Verizon)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro (64GB) (medium)MagSafe Charger (medium, Preferred: Apple)Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini

Product Card (medium, Preferred: Apple)iPhone 12 Mini (medium, Preferred: AT&T)

An improvement on previous models in terms of design and camera quality, the iPhone 12 is our current pick for the best iPhone you can get overall. It comes in five colors: white, black, blue, green, and red. Depending on your storage needs, you can choose from the 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage sizes. You can also pick between the normal 6.1-inch display and the 5.4-inch display Mini. The Mini has shorter battery life since it’s a smaller phone.

Though the phone came out a year ago, deals for it aren’t very common just yet — it’s even difficult to find available from other retailers without being locked to a carrier. Right now, the best place to find it unlocked is from Apple, but if you’re willing to enter a contract with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint, you can find stock from other retailers, like Amazon and Walmart.

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)iPhone 12 Pro Max (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Apple no longer sells the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max through its online store, but other retailers still offer these models. Though they’re being replaced by new iPhone 13 versions, the 12 Pro series still feature excellent cameras in low light and an elegant design. The Pro Max will cost you an extra $100, but it has a larger 6.7-inch display and longer battery life than the smaller 6.1-inch version. Both are available in four colors: graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue. You can choose between 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB depending on your needs. 

Just like their smaller siblings, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max don’t typically see especially good deals.

iPhone SE (2020)

iPhone SE (2020) (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)

Though it only comes with a single-lens camera, the iPhone SE is the best value you can find out of an iPhone. It has an older design, similar in look and feel to the iPhone 8; it’s also the only modern model that retained the home button. It runs using the same powerful chip as the iPhone 11 and can cost as little as $399 if you settle for the 64GB. It comes in three colors: white, black, and red. 

iPhone SE deals are pretty common to come across nowadays — if you’re lucky you can even find one free from carriers like AT&T or Verizon. 

iPhone XR

iPhone XR (medium)

The iPhone XR has a big, 5.94-inch screen and still includes modern features like Face ID, the Touch ID replacement that uses your front-facing camera to unlock your phone, and wireless charging. Though it’s no longer sold directly on Apple’s site, it’s one of the cheapest iPhone options you can buy without compromising too much on performance. You can choose between white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and red. 

If you don’t mind buying renewed, Amazon and Best Buy are worth looking into. Right now the street price for one is $499 for the 64GB storage size. 

iPhone 11

iPhone 11 (medium, Preferred: Verizon)

Though it’s the past generation of iPhone, the iPhone 11 still has great value worth considering if you want to pay less. It has a fast A13 Bionic chip, long battery life that we found lasted over 32 hours, wireless charging, and a dual-camera setup. It comes in six colors: white, black, green, yellow, purple, and red. 

Its street price has dropped down to $499 for the 64GB storage capacity. 

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro (medium)iPhone 11 Pro Max (medium)

The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max are still great options for their solid triple camera system, speedy A13 Bionic chips, and Face ID to replace TouchID for unlocking your phone. The Pro offers up to 18 hours of battery life with video playback and the Pro Max offers up to 20 hours. We think they’re still a good value if you can find them at a decent deal price.

Apple no longer sells the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, but you can still find them from other retailers — though they’ll likely be locked in with carriers like Verizon and AT&T. If they see a reasonable discount, it may be worth buying so long as you don’t mind entering a contract with a carrier to do so.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I find the best iPhone deals?

Retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Woot, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are great places to find brand new iPhones with promotional discounts. Though the Apple Store may be your go-to, it’s rare to find iPhone deals from the store.  

There are tons of places to find discounts from, but we’ll keep this story updated with the best deals available from any retailer. 

Are refurbished iPhones worth buying?

In general, so long as it’s marked as “manufacturer refurbished,” it’s worth it. Buying refurbished iPhones can save you a lot of money, especially with their high price tags. 

Here are the best refurbished iPhone deals available now.

Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) (medium, Preferred: Verizon)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro (64GB) (medium)Refurbished iPhone XR (64GB) (medium)

Should I trade in my old iPhone?

It depends on the promotional offer, but oftentimes trading in an old model will knock a hefty sum off a brand new one. Usually, cell service providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint will have ongoing trade-in deals worth considering, year-round. 

When do new iPhones come out?

The newest generation of iPhone was announced on September 14, with preorders starting September 17. The iPhone 13 will be generally available starting September 24. 

When is the best time to buy an iPhone?

As with most tech, the best discounts tend to crop up during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The previous year’s models tend to see all-time lows at this time, especially with a new generation usually announced in September. It’s unlikely that the newest generation will see any price drops, though; models usually need to be out for at least a year before retailers start offering discounts. 

Amazon Prime Day is also a good time to find discounts, but the deal event usually lands mid-summer, meaning the newest models are only a few months away. 

What is the cheapest iPhone available?

The 2020 iPhone SE is undoubtedly the best budget iPhone available. Starting at only $399, it provides the full iOS experience and runs on the same chip as the iPhone 11. Right now, you can even get one free, with a new line on an eligible Verizon Unlimited plan.

iPhone SE (2020) (medium, Preferred: Verizon)

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

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After announcing the iPhone 13, Apple already stopped selling the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone XR

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iPhone 12 Pro Outside back
The iPhone 12 Pro is no longer available on Apple’s online store.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyiPhone 13 (small)

Apple announced its new iPhone 13 on September 14, and the launch means that some older iPhone models will be phased out.

Apple revealed the iPhone 13 alongside an upgraded iPad, a revamped iPad mini, and a refresh to the Apple Watch. Among other updates, the new iPhones have an A15 Bionic processor, longer battery life, and an improved camera designed for cinematic videos.

Preorders for the iPhone 13 will be available starting September 17, and the device will be officially released on September 24. Though Apple customers now have several new phones to choose from, visitors to Apple’s online store no longer have the option to purchase select models from last year.

Discontinued Apple iPhone models

After the iPhone 13 launch event, Apple removed the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and iPhone XR from its online store. These models join the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus which were all discontinued last year.

Although Apple no longer sells these older iPhones through its online store, you may still be able to purchase them from select phone carriers or third party retailers.

iPhone models currently available for purchase

The iPhone models that are currently available to buy or preorder on the Apple store include:

The new iPhone 13 models range in price from $700 to $1,100, but budget-friendly options are available if you choose to purchase iPhones from an older generation.

For example, the iPhone SE starts at $400, and the iPhone 11 starts at $500. Customers who purchase an iPhone 11 from Best Buy with a new Verizon account or line activation can even snag the device for a deal price of $150.

iPhone 13 (small)iPhone SE (2020) (small)iPhone 11 (medium)

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Apple’s new iPhone 13 comes in 4 models – the differences are in the camera, size, and battery life

Apple iPhone 13.
  • Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup includes iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
  • The major difference between the standard iPhone 13 and the Pro models is with the camera system.
  • The iPhone 13 Pro also has a screen with a 120Hz refresh rate for more fluid visuals.

Apple’s iPhone 13 series largely follows the same footsteps as the previous iPhone 12 generation – two standard premium models that come with core basics, and two ultra-premium models that come with extra features, especially in the camera department.

No matter what iPhone 13 model you choose, the experience should be similar, overall. You’re getting Apple’s excellent iOS and ecosystem, powerful performance, and great cameras. You really can’t go wrong with any specific model.

Still, it’s worth checking out the differences between all the models – maybe there’s something in the Pro models that you might find worthwhile, or perhaps to confirm that the standard models have everything you really need. Here are the basic differences in specifications between all the new iPhone 13 models.

There’s some nuance and extra detail you should know about to some of these differences, which we cover below.

Specifications iPhone 13 Mini iPhone 13 iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro

Display 5.4-inch OLED Super Retina XDR 6.1-inch OLED Super Retina XDR 6.1-inch OLED Super Retina XDR with adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz 6.7-inch OLED Super Retina XDR with adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz
Processor Apple A15 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic Apple A15 Bionic
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP 3x optical zoom 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP 3x optical zoom
Selfie camera 12MP 12MP 12MP 12MP
Battery Up to 13 hours of video streaming Up to 15 hours of video streaming Up to 20 hours of video streaming Up to 25 hours of video streaming
Display differences

A GIF from Apple's iPhone event showing the adaptive refresh rate screen on the iPhone 13 Pro phones.

For the first time, Apple iPhones have screens with a high refresh rate — up to 120Hz, to be exact. That’s double the standard 60Hz refresh rate on all previous iPhone screens. To be accurate, only the iPhone 13 Pro models have a high-refresh rate screen that can reach up to 120Hz. 

The higher the Hz (hertz) number, the smoother the animations and videos appear on a screen. It’s almost entirely cosmetic, as animations while you swipe around the phone’s operating system and apps look and feel more fluid and less blurry. But that fluid experience from high refresh-rate screens goes a long way to make a phone feel faster and more powerful, and ultimately, more premium. 

Camera differences

iPhone 13 Pro camera

This is where the major differences between the standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models come into play. 

The standard iPhone 13, including the iPhone 13 Mini, have a dual-lens camera system. It includes a new wide camera that can capture 47% more light for less noise and “brighter results,” according to Apple. The new larger sensor can capture more light, which always helps for day shots, but also helps reduce Night Mode capture times. Both phone also include Apple’s sensor-shift OIS (optical image stabilization) to reduce the blurring effects from shaky hands. 

The standard iPhone 13s also have a new ultra-wide camera that captures more dark areas with less noise, according to Apple. 

The iPhone 13 Pro models have a triple-lens camera system. The most obvious difference being that the Pro models have a 3x optical zoom lens that the standard iPhone 13 versions don’t have.

Under the hood, however, the Pro models have features and capabilities that the standard iPhone 13 and Mini don’t have. The Pro models have a LiDar sensor for Night Mode portraits and faster autofocus in low light. They also feature Apple’s ProRAW mode for capturing RAW photos that are better suited for editing. 

What’s nice to see is that all of the new iPhone 13 models support Apple’s new cinematic mode for recording videos at varying depths of field, or “rack focusing.”

Battery life differences

Apple's iPhone 13 Pro has a larger battery than the standard iPhone 13, giving the Pro model a longer battery life.

It’s pretty much expected that smaller phones will get less battery life than larger phones. What could strike as odd, however, is that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro have dramatically varying battery life, despite being the same size. 

The iPhone 13 can stream video for up to 15 hours, and the iPhone 13 Pro for up to 20 hours. 

The simple reason behind this is that the iPhone 13 Pro’s battery is larger, according to Apple. 

iPhone 13 Mini (small, Preferred: Apple)iPhone 13 (small, Preferred: Apple)iPhone 13 Pro (small, Preferred: Apple)iPhone 13 Pro Max (small, Preferred: Apple)

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Apple is expected to reveal the iPhone 13 on September 14 – here’s how to watch the big announcement live

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Apple Event 2021: California Streaming
Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event is set for 1 p.m. ET on September 14.

  • You can watch Apple’s “California Streaming” event live on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET.
  • Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7.
  • The event will stream on Apple.com, YouTube, and the Apple TV app.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Apple’s latest launch event, titled “California Streaming,” will be held on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET. Though nothing has been confirmed yet, the ubiquitous tech company is expected to announce its newest iPhone model, the iPhone 13.

Apple’s lineup of wearables could also get a update with the expected reveal of a new Apple Watch. In addition, a third-generation AirPods model is rumored to make an appearance.

How to watch Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event

Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event will be available to watch online on September 14. The “California Streaming” event starts at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and you can stream it live via Apple.com, YouTube, or the Apple TV app.

The Apple.com stream is expected to be compatible with the latest versions of all major web browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. You can also watch a live stream directly through the Apple TV app.

In addition, the iPhone 13 launch event will be available to watch on YouTube through a web browser or the YouTube app. During previous Apple events, Insider has noticed a slight lag in the YouTube broadcast. Watching a direct stream from Apple might be the fastest way to catch all the latest announcements as they happen.

What to expect from Apple’s iPhone 13 event

The launch of the iPhone 13 is expected to be the biggest announcement from Apple during its “California Streaming” event on September 14.

According to Bloomberg, the new iPhone will likely launch in the same screen size options as the iPhone 12, but the updated lineup will have additional camera features and include an upgraded processor.

As well as a new generation of iPhones, Bloomberg is reporting that buyers can expect a refresh for the Apple Watch. Called the Apple Watch Series 7, the new wearable may offer a bigger display and faster performance compared to the currently available lineup from Apple.

It’s also rumored that Apple could announce a third-generation AirPods model. Less is known about the AirPods 3, and it’s not clear how different the new earbuds will be compared to the AirPods Pro.

Check out our iPhone coverage

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 Pro compared to the iPhone 12.

We’ll have complete coverage of every announcement during Apple’s California Streaming event with all the latest product news and detailed breakdowns.

Right now, you can read our reviews of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro. Buyers interested in snagging discounts on Apple devices should also take a look at Insider’s recent review of a refurbished iPhone 11 Pro .

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to watch the Apple iPhone 13 launch event live on September 14

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Apple Event 2021: California Streaming
  • You can watch Apple’s “California Streaming” event live on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET.
  • Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 13, Apple Watch 7, and more new products.
  • The event will be available to stream on Apple.com, YouTube, and the Apple TV app.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The next launch event from Apple is titled “California Streaming,” and it will be streamed live on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET. The ubiquitous tech company based in Cupertino, California, is expected to announce its latest iPhone model, the iPhone 13.

Apple wearables could also get a refresh with the potential announcement of an updated Apple Watch. A new AirPods model is rumored to make an appearance as well.

How to watch Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event

Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event will be available to watch online on September 14. The “California Streaming” event begins at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and you can stream it live on Apple.com, YouTube, or the Apple TV app.

The Apple.com stream is expected to be compatible with the latest versions of all major web browsers, including Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. In addition, you can watch a live stream directly through the Apple TV app.

The iPhone 13 launch event will also be available to watch on YouTube via a web browser or the YouTube app. During previous Apple events, Insider has noticed a slight lag in the YouTube broadcast. Watching a direct stream from Apple might be the fastest way to see all the latest announcements.

What to expect from Apple’s ‘California Streaming’ event

The launch of the iPhone 13 is expected to be the biggest announcement from Apple during its September 14 event.

According to Bloomberg, the updated iPhone will likely launch in the same screen size options as the iPhone 12, have additional camera features, and include a more powerful processor.

As well as a new generation of iPhones, Bloomberg is reporting that customers can expect a refresh for the Apple Watch. Called the Apple Watch Series 7, the new wearable may offer a larger screen and faster performance than the currently available models from Apple.

It’s also rumored that Apple could announce a third-generation AirPods model. Less is known about the AirPods 3, and it’s not clear how different these earbuds will be compared to the AirPods Pro.

Check out our iPhone coverage

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 Pro compared to the iPhone 12.

We’ll have comprehensive coverage of every announcement during Apple’s California Streaming event with all the latest product news and detailed breakdowns.

Right now, you can check out our reviews of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro. Buyers interested in snagging discounts on Apple devices should also take a look at Insider’s recent review of a refurbished iPhone 11 Pro .

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to watch the Apple event on September 14 – the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch 7 are expected to launch

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Apple Event 2021: California Streaming
  • You can watch Apple’s upcoming “California Streaming” event live on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET.
  • Apple is rumored to be announcing the iPhone 13, Apple Watch 7, and more new products.
  • The launch event will be available to stream on Apple.com, YouTube, and the Apple TV app.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The next major event from Apple is titled “California Streaming,” and it will be streamed live on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET. The ubiquitous tech company based in Cupertino, California, is expected to announce the iPhone 13.

Apple wearables could also get a refresh with the potential announcement of an updated Apple Watch. A new AirPods model is also rumored to make an appearance.

How to watch Apple’s iPhone 13 launch event

Apple’s latest launch event will be available to watch online on September 14. The “California Streaming” event starts at 1 p.m. ET, and you can stream it live on Apple.com, YouTube, or the Apple TV app.

If you’re watching the event on Apple.com, the stream is expected to be compatible with the latest versions of all major web browsers such as Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. In addition, you can watch a live stream directly through the Apple TV app.

The event will also be available to watch on YouTube via a web browser or the YouTube app. During previous Apple events, Insider has noticed a slight lag in the YouTube broadcast. Watching a direct stream from Apple might be the fastest way to hear about any new products.

What to expect from Apple’s ‘California Streaming’ event

Of all the new products rumored to be revealed on September 14, the launch of the iPhone 13 is expected to be the biggest announcement from Apple.

According to Bloomberg, the updated iPhone will likely come in the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12, have additional camera features, and include a more powerful processor.

As well as a new generation of iPhones, Bloomberg is reporting that customers can expect a refresh for the Apple Watch. Called the Apple Watch Series 7, the new wearable may have a larger screen and better processor than the currently available models from Apple.

It’s also rumored that Apple could announce a third-generation AirPods model. Less is known about the AirPods 3, and it’s not clear how different these earbuds will be compared to the AirPods Pro.

Check out our iPhone coverage

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 Pro compared to the iPhone 12.

We’ll have comprehensive coverage of every announcement during Apple’s California Streaming event. Check back on September 14 for all the latest product news and detailed breakdowns.

Right now, you can check out our reviews of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro. Buyers interested in snagging discounts on Apple devices should also take a look at Insider’s recent review of a refurbished iPhone 11 Pro .

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best Lightning cables for iPhone and iPad in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A Lightning cable is essential for any iPhone owner. Apple includes one in the box when you buy a new iPhone, but there are plenty of Lightning cables from other companies that are more lengthy, durable, and colorful.

We’ve tested several Lightning cables to find the right one for every budget and need- from the most durable, to the longest, and everything in between.

All of our recommended Lightning cables are MFi certified by Apple. Cables without this certification might be less expensive than the ones on our list, but they can also be dangerous and ineffective. Some of our picks come in USB-C versions that can plug into Apple’s fast chargers and more recent laptops.

Here are the best Lightning cables of 2021

The best overall Lightning cable

The best overall Lightning cable  Paracable USB Paraflex Lightning Cable
Our best overall Lighting cable is the Paracable USB Paraflex

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable is strong, fairly priced, and comes in multiple colors and sizes, making it the best overall choice.

Pros: Durable, multiple color options, strong warranty 

Cons: Moderately pricey

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable, which starts at $22,  is one of the best Lightning cables I’ve ever used. It’s durable, colorful, and features the thickest connector reinforcements I’ve seen. Ultimately, what sets this cable apart from the Anker PowerLine II, our previous top pick, is its strength, thin design, reasonable price, and variety of color and length options. 

This cable easily fits through my case easily and creates a secure connection with my phone. I can even hold my phone upside down and shake the cable without it falling out, though I don’t recommend trying this over a hard surface. It’s also light, portable, and comes with a Velcro strap for easy storage. 

Paracable uses a patented 32-bit paracord fabric to cover its lineup of cables. The fabric comes in four different color patterns and feels similar to other nylon-covered power cords. It’s soft, smooth, and easily bendable – though it does a better job of keeping its bent shape toward the end of the connectors than it does in the middle of the cable.  It also charges quickly, with the ability to transport up to two amps of power to your device. 

What’s particularly interesting about this cable is that the company claims it can withstand up to 35,000 bends. That’s almost three times as many bends as Anker claims the PowerLine II can endure. Although I haven’t tried bending the Paracable 35,000 times, I’ve been using it for months and haven’t encountered any issues. The company backs up its product with a two-year warranty, along with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

The Paracable Paraflex Lightning cable isn’t the cheapest charging cord on this list, but offers a great combination of style, size, and durability – making it the best choice for most people.

The best budget Lightning cable

The best budget Lightning cable  The Anker PowerLine II
Our best budget Lightning cables is the Anker PowerLine II

The Anker PowerLine II with Lightning Connector‘s affordable price, sturdy build, and size and color options make it a great choice for those in need of a basic cable.

Pros: Inexpensive, multiple colors and lengths, reinforced connectors

Cons: Not as durable as some of the others on the this list

The $14.99 PowerLine II might not be as new as its sibling — the PowerLine III —  but it’s still a fantastic charging cable for everyday use. It’s durable, comes in multiple colors and lengths, and is affordably priced — making it a great pick for anyone in need of an everyday charging cord. 

Its synthetic rubber exterior is smooth to the touch, while the reinforced connectors are sturdy and robust. The white cable I’ve been testing looks and feels like a slightly thicker version of the Apple-made Lightning cable. But if white isn’t your color, you have the option to choose between black, blue, and red. There is also a USB-C version for those looking to take advantage of Apple’s fast charging feature. 

Anker claims that the PowerLine II can withstand up to 175 pounds and 12,000 bends, which is fewer than the Paracable Paraflex and Anker PowerLine III,  but significantly more than an unreinforced cable. In case there are ever any issues, the Anker backs the cable with a limited lifetime warranty.

The best long Lightning cable

The best long Lightning cable  The Native Union Night Cable
Our best long Lightning cable is the Native Union Night Cable

Charging from a distance is easy with the Native Union Night Lightning cable, as this durable 10-foot cord reaches just about anywhere.

Pros: 10-feet long, lots of color options, weighted so it doesn’t fall or get tangled 

Cons: Expensive

Native Union’s $39.99 Night Lightning cable certainly stands out. Not only is it colorful and incredibly long – 10 feet, to be exact – but it also features a golf ball-sized weight that anchors the cable in place. The interesting design, durability, and multiple color options help to make the Night cable our favorite extra-long power cord.  

The weight is surprisingly useful when charging from a high table. It keeps the cable contained as it drops to the floor so that it doesn’t get in the way. The nylon itself is incredibly soft, while the reinforced connectors are strong and durable. The cable’s wires are protected with DuPont Kevlar fiber, a TPE rubber sleeve, a tinned copper braid, and final grounding layer. 

Native Union backs their products with a limited lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry if something stops working. But so far, I’ve twisted, bent and shaped this cable for months without a single issue. 

The Native Union Night comes in five colors, including a pink-ish Rose and a light green Sage. There’s also a USB-C to Lightning version as well, but those cables are more limited in their color options.

The unique length and look of this cable make it a great choice for those who can appreciate a cord that is long, durable, and a little funky.

The best durable Lightning cable

The best durable Lighting cable  The Fuse Chicken Titan
The Fuse Chicken Titan is our pick as the best durable Lighting cable

The Fuse Chicken Titan is strong enough to survive a chainsaw.

Pros: Extremely durable, made from flexible high-strength steel, lifetime guarantee  

Cons: Expensive, doesn’t come in a USB-C to Lightning option

The $29.95 Fuse Chicken Titan just might be the toughest Lightning cable ever. Don’t believe me? The company ran over the Titan with a truck, struck it repeatedly with a hammer, and even took a chainsaw to the cable without breaking it

Of course, marketing doesn’t tell the whole story and I certainly have not attempted to recreate these tests. But I can at least say that the cord looks and feels absolutely indestructible. 

This thick cable is made with two layers of flexible steel, along with connectors that are  sealed directly over the electronics in one-piece housing — which ensures there is little room for cracks or breakage. The shiny metal cable feels sturdy and slick, and can maintain its shape for a long period of time even after being bent in a variety of ways.

There are some trade-offs for this much durability. It’s not the lightest or easiest cable to carry around, and it’s at least two or three times wider than other cables on the market. The wider neck of the cable also might not fit the cutout for the charging port on some iPhone cases, making it more difficult to charge on the go. I never encountered this problem, but my iPhone case has an especially generous bottom cutout compared to others. 

The Fuse Chicken Titan is a little over 3 feet long and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, and is only available in a USB-A to Lightning configuration. Fuse Chicken also makes a Titan Plus, which is 4.9 feet long and offers a Gold and Rose color option.

The best universal Lightning cable

Best universal Lightning cable  Anker 3 in 1 Charging Cable
The Anker 3-in-1 Charging Cable is our pick as the best universal charging cable

The Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable gives you the option to charge devices with  USB-C, Lightning, or Micro USB connections.

Pros: Durable, multiple connectors

Cons: Only comes in one length, no USB-C to USB-C version

You probably have multiple devices that require different types of cables to charge. For example, my Kindle Oasis charges using a micro-USB connection, while my iPhone needs a Lightning cable, and my headphones require a USB-C connection. Why must I keep three different cords in my bag? 

Anker has made the $19.99 PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable to fix this problem. The smooth, synthetic rubber USB-A to micro-USB cord features two securely attached dongles that dangle from the micro-USB side of the cable. One of these dongles is a Lightning connector, while the other is USB-C. The dongles snap into place on top of the micro-USB connector to create an interchangeable charging cable. 

The cord is well designed and the seal between the dongle and the Micro USB connector is strong. The dongles connect and come off easily with a bit of force. Luckily, they are made out of the same quality rubber as the rest of the cord and can withstand the tugging and stretching.  

The only downside to the PowerLine II 3-in-1 is that there is only one length: 3 feet. This is fine when I am close to an outlet, but having a 6-foot option would be really helpful in other situations. Anker also lacks a USB-C to USB-C/Lightning/micro-USB option, which is frustrating for those who want to charge their phone quickly. 

The Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Charging Cable comes in black and white, and is a great alternative to carrying around multiple cables for different devices.

Our methodology

We judged each cable on a variety of criteria to help determine which cord was the best. These determinations were based on the subsequent factors:

  • Quality of the materials that make up the cords
  • The availability of multiple colors and sizes to accommodate different needs and preferences
  • The durability of the cables 
  • How easily they fit into the Lightning connector on the phone through a case

We also took price and Apple MFi certification into consideration when choosing our picks to ensure value and quality. 

To test durability, we twisted and bent the cables rigorously over the course of several months. We particularly focused on the area near the cable’s connector to check for evidence of wear. 

We measured connector fit by plugging the cables to our phones, dangled them three feet above a soft surface, and shook them until they dropped.

What else we considered

Other cables we considered  Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable
Some of the other cables we considered include the Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable

Native Union Belt Cable ($24.99): This 4-foot cable is shorter than the extra-long Night cable listed above and lacks its distinctive knot. Instead, it features a thick leather strap that wraps around the cord to keep everything secure. It starts at $24.99 and is missing the qualities that make the Native Union Night cable so unique.  

Anker PowerLine Play 180 Cable ($17.99): Playing games and watching videos in landscape mode while simultaneously charging your phone can be annoying. The protruding Lightning cable sticks out into your hand, making the phone hard to hold. Anker’s PowerLine Play 180 attempts to fix this problem by creating a Lightning connector that plugs in and immediately bends at a 180-degree angle so that the cable bends away from the palm of your hand and down the back of the phone instead. It works well and costs $17.99, but is only 3 feet long, which makes it too short to be practical. 

Fuse Chicken Shield ($34.95): This Lightning cable is 1 meter in length and is encased in stainless-steel chainmail links, which offer great overall protection. Ultimately, it didn’t seem quite as protective or as effortlessly bendable as some of Fuse Chicken’s other products, which is why — despite its fun and durable design — it didn’t make the cut.

Anker PowerLine III Flow ($26.99): This cable is smooth, soft to the touch, and offers a Lightning to USB-C connection for fast charging. It costs $26.99 and comes in multiple sizes and  fun colors — including Mint Green and Lavender Grey — but is not as durable as some of the others on our list. 

How to buy a Lightning cable

Anker Lightning Cable, Powerline II

Buying a Lightning cable seems simple, but there are a few important things to look out for.

  • Always look for cables that are MFi certified. Lightning cables that aren’t Apple-certified could result in damage to your device, damage to the cable, or inability to sync or charge your device, Apple says. Apple-approved cables will have a badge that says “Made for iPhone” or “Made for iPhone, iPad, iPod” on their packaging.
  • Make sure you’re buying the right cable for your device and power adapter. All iPhone models released since the iPhone 5 are compatible with Lightning cables. But iPads are a little trickier. The current generation iPad Mini and standard iPad both have Lightning ports. However, the newest fourth-generation iPad Air charges via USB-C instead of Lightning, while older iPad Air models use Lightning. Recent iPad Pro models released in 2018 or later use USB-C instead of Lightning. You should also double check whether your device’s power adapter uses a USB-C or USB-A connection so you buy the correct model. 
  • Look for Lightning cables that suit your specific needs. If you’re shopping for a Lightning cable other than the one that came with your iPhone, there’s probably a reason. Think about the frustrations you experience with your current cable before deciding on a new one. Is it too short? Has your dog tried to chew through it recently? The answer to these questions will tell you what type of Lightning cable you should be looking for. 

Check out our other iPhone accessory buying guides

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Google’s Pixel 5a 5G is the perfect phone for anyone looking to spend under $500

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Google’s $450 Pixel 5a 5G is the best mid-range smartphone under $500.
  • It has the best balance of performance, camera quality, and value among every phone we’ve tested.
  • In my experience, paying more for a premium phone results in rapidly diminishing returns – the Pixel 5a 5G fixes that problem.

Google Pixel 5a thumbnail 4x3

Pixel 5a 5G (small)

At first glance, Google’s Pixel 5a 5G seems nearly identical to last year’s Pixel 4a 5G – it looks the same, has identical performance specs, and the same cameras.

That’s not a bad thing at all. The generic design means less divisive opinions about the way it looks, and the performance hardware didn’t need upgrading.

The differences are subtle and important. For one, the Pixel 5a 5G is $50 cheaper than the Pixel 4a 5G. And most importantly, it has a significantly larger battery, resulting in superb battery life.

The result is a phone that one could argue is “perfect.” It looks “universal,” it runs well, it has excellent cameras, it has long battery life, and it’s affordable. I couldn’t find anything to complain about while testing out this phone.

Specifications

Google Pixel 5a 5G Specifications
Display 6.34 FHD (2,400 x 1,080) OLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Memory and storage 6GB RAM, 128GB storage
Rear cameras 12-megapixel wide, 16-megapixel ultra-wide
Selfie camera 8-megapixel
Battery 4,680mAh, 18W charger included
Water resistance IP67
5G Connectivity Sub6 5G

Design and display

Google’s Pixel 5a 5G is confidently bland and inoffensive – you can’t say it’s ugly or beautiful. The Pixel 5a 5G’s metal unibody design ensures that it looks and feels closer to a premium phone than mid-rangers usually adorned in plastic. Save for the display and buttons, it’s all metal, and it feels solid and durable. It’s also rated at an IP67 water resistance, which is unusual for mid-rangers.

Google Pixel 5a back
The Google Pixel 5a 5G’s metal back in the “mostly black” color, which actually has the slightest hint of dark green.

Google only offers the Pixel 5a 5G in a color the company calls “mostly black,” which actually has a slight greenish tint to it. And that’s fine – you add a splash of color with a case, or keep its ultra-generic profile without one.

Just a few years ago, the Pixel 5a 5G’s 6.34-inch OLED display with 1080p resolution wouldn’t feel out of place in a premium phone that cost twice as much. Today, we’d expect expensive premium phones to come with a high-refresh rate screen for that buttery-smooth experience, but it’s not expected at the Pixel 5a 5G’s price point. Some mid-rangers, like the Galaxy A52, have higher refresh-rate screens, but that luxury usually comes with a compromise, like performance or camera quality. And as I elaborate below, the Pixel 5a 5G does not compromise on performance or camera quality.

Performance and battery life

The Pixel 5a 5G‘s specifications, performance, and price hit the ultimate sweet spot for phones available in the US. Only Apple’s iPhone SE beats the Pixel 5a 5G in terms of value and performance, but the Pixel 5a 5G’s superior camera quality, not to mention its design and battery life, sends the Pixel 5a 5G into another league entirely, but more on that later.

To be sure, the Snapdragon 765G turning the wheels in the Pixel 5a 5G isn’t quite as snappy or smooth as more powerful processors, like the Snapdragon 888 you’d find in premium phones that cost twice as much. Still, the Pixel 5a 5G is pretty speedy, and it’s hard to argue that the premium performance gains are worth twice as much.

Our usual benchmarking tool, Geekbench 5, wasn’t available on the Pixel 5a 5G at the time of writing. However, the Pixel 5a 5G has the same performance specs as the previous Pixel 4a 5G, and even the “flagship” Pixel 5 that cost $700 at launch. With that in mind, we can extrapolate that the Pixel 5a 5G would score around 590 for single-core performance, and around 1,630 for multi-core performance.

Google Pixel 5a camera
The Google Pixel 5a 5G’s camera module, which contains a wide and ultra-wide lens.

Strangely, those are lower scores than the $400 Galaxy A42, which runs on the Snapdragon 750G that scored around 640 for single-core performance, and 1,865 for multi-core. However, despite those scores, the Pixel 5a 5G and the Snapdragon 765G run noticeably more reliably and smoother than the Galaxy A42. It’s a perfect example that benchmark scores don’t tell the whole story.

The phone’s battery life is truly excellent. It lasted 14 hours and 45 minutes in our standard battery test, wherein we stream a video at full screen brightness, and at the 1080p resolution supported by the screen. That’s over an hour more than the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy S21 lasted in the same test, and two hours longer than the iPhone 12’s 12 hours.

While we’re on the topic of battery life, it’s worth mentioning that the Pixel 5a 5G comes with a charger – you have to pay extra for a charger these days if you’re spending over $700 on a premium phone. The 18W charger is nothing special in terms of charging speed, but it’s faster than the 15W charger you get with Samsung’s A42 and A52.

Camera

The Pixel 5a 5G has – by a long way – the best cameras on a phone that costs under $500. The Pixel 5a 5G can even compete in the big leagues alongside premium phones, too. Only the Apple iPhone SE competes in this price range, but it only has a single lens, while the Pixel 5a 5G is more versatile with its standard wide lens and ultra-wide lens.

Google Pixel 5a main wide camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s main wide camera.

Google Pixel 5a ultra-wide camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s ultra-wide camera.

The photos above taken with the Pixel 5a 5G‘s main and ultra-wide cameras with mixed lighting put the phone’s HDR, colors, and clarity to the test, and it excels beautifully in all three aspects.

Pixel 5a 5G 2x zoom camera
A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s 2x zoom feature.

The Pixel 5a 5G doesn’t have a zoom lens, but the camera has a 2x zoom button that zooms in using the main camera lens. The result is still surprisingly good, with plenty of detail and clarity, despite the fact that zooming is achieved digitally rather than optically. Details will get lost if you zoom in any further, however. Still, I’d rather have two amazing cameras than three middling ones.

Pixel Ga 5G picture of fire station with main wide camera
A photo of a fire station taken with the Pixel 5a 5G’s main camera.

One of the things I appreciate about Google’s phone cameras over others is how they keep more natural colors and lighting rather than trying to make a photo look better with excessive processing. In my opinion, Samsung phones are culprits of over-processing, often resulting in photos with overly boosted colors and lighting that looks flat rather than dynamic, for example.

Should you buy the Google Pixel 5a 5G?

If it’s not already clear, the answer is very much “yes.” Not only is the Google Pixel 5a 5G the best phone for people with budgets under $500, it’s a phone that premium phone fans should consider buying, should they have any ambition to save money these days.

Spending more on premium phones compared to the Pixel 5a 5G offers rapidly diminishing returns. The performance gains from spending more are somewhat noticeable, but hardly worth the extra hundreds. Plus, you’re not getting a better camera by going with an $800 Galaxy S21, or even the $800 iPhone 12.

What are your alternatives?

Samsung’s Galaxy A42 or Galaxy A52 are your best alternatives to the Pixel 5a 5G. We’d rather recommend the Pixel 5a 5G for its superior performance, cameras, and battery life, but the Samsung phones have bigger screens, if that appeals to you.

The bottom line

The Google Pixel 5a 5G is a champion of a phone that everyone should buy. With that said, people who like premium phones and don’t mind paying the extra money may not be swayed.

Pros: Under $500, speedy for the price, great screen, excellent battery life, premium wide and ultra-wide cameras, headphone jack, 18W fast charger included, IP67 water resistance

Cons: None

Pixel 5a 5G (button)

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How to unlock your phone to change carriers

woman using laptop and phone at home
If you’re switching cell phone carriers, you may want to unlock your current phone.

  • When you unlock a phone, it means that you alone own the device and can use it with any cell phone carrier.
  • Every major cell phone carrier allows you to unlock a phone, and a standard requirement is that you’ve paid all of your bills.
  • The steps to unlock your phone differ by carrier, but usually involve calling your current carrier or using a special website.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you bought your phone from a cell phone carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile, there’s a good chance that you don’t actually own that phone. If you’re still paying monthly bills for it, or just have it locked to the network, the phone carrier has some say over it.

That’s where unlocking comes in. When you unlock your phone, you get full ownership of the device. This means that you can then switch cell phone carriers without having to buy a new device.

Although every carrier has a slightly different unlocking process, they’re all similar. Here’s how to unlock your phone, no matter which carrier you’re signed up with.

How to unlock your phone

Meet the prerequisites

Before you can unlock your phone, you’ll need to fulfill a few terms.

  • If you bought your phone on an installment plan, you need to pay off the entire device (the only carrier that explicitly doesn’t require this is Verizon).
  • Your phone can’t be reported as lost or stolen, and your account with the carrier needs to be in “good standing.”
  • You’re current with all of your phone bills, and don’t have any past-due balances.
Young man at home, paying bills online
Make sure that you’ve paid your phone bills before requesting an unlock.

Additionally, most carriers require you to have kept the phone locked on their network for some period of time, ranging by carrier from 40 days (for T-Mobile) to one year (Boost Mobile).

Request the unlock

If you’ve met all the terms and conditions required by your carrier, you can ask for the unlock. Again, every carrier makes you go through a slightly different process – for example, AT&T has an online portal you need to fill out – but you can’t go wrong by calling your carrier’s customer service line. Worst case scenario, they point you in the right direction.

If you call and they tell you that you’re eligible for an unlock, request it. It might take a few days, but once your request is processed, you’ll receive a confirmation email or letter. While you’re waiting for that confirmation, keep your SIM card in your phone.

For further detail on the requirements and processes of major carriers, see our guides on unlocking phones from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile.

Once you’ve unlocked your phone, you can feel free to cancel your carrier contract and move to another company. All you’ll need to do at that point is switch out the SIM card in your phone.

SIM card being inserted into Android phone
Your phone’s SIM card contains your cell phone carrier account information.

How to stop robocalls and spam calls on your iPhone or Android phoneHow to block your number and hide your own caller ID when making phone callsHow to set up a custom voicemail greeting on your iPhoneHow to remove the SIM card from your iPhone to replace it or throw it away

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How to unlock a Boost Mobile phone and use it with other carriers

Woman surprised using iPhone
If your Boost Mobile account is in good standing, you might be eligible for a phone unlock.

  • To unlock a Boost Mobile phone, you’ll need to call the Boost Mobile Customer Care line at 1-888-266-7848.
  • Before you can unlock your phone, it needs to have been connected to your Boost Mobile account for at least a year.
  • Military personnel who are deployed overseas can unlock their Boost Mobile phones without waiting a year.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

When you buy a phone directly from a cell phone carrier – for example, Boost Mobile – they partially own the device. This means that if you ever want to leave that company for another, you’ll either need to give up the phone, or go through an annoying transfer process.

However, you can skip that process and gain full ownership of your phone by unlocking it. Unlocking a phone from a carrier makes it so you can switch companies and keep the same phone.

If you’re a Boost Mobile customer, unlocking your phone just takes a phone call. Here’s how to unlock your Boost Mobile phone.

How to unlock a Boost Mobile phone

Before anything, you need to make sure that you meet Boost Mobile’s unlocking requirements. These are:

  • The phone has been active on your Boost Mobile account for at least a year.
  • Your Boost Mobile account is in “good standing,” with no past-due balances.
  • The phone hasn’t been reported as lost or stolen.

Additionally, the phone needs to be “SIM unlock capable.” You should ask about your specific phone’s capabilities when you call Boost Mobile, but in general, if the phone was made in 2015 or later it should be fine.

SIM card being inserted into Android phone
Your Boost Mobile account is tied to the SIM card inside your phone.

If your phone isn’t SIM unlock capable, Boost Mobile can provide you with an “MSL Code” which may work to unlock it instead.

If you meet all the requirements, call Boost Mobile’s customer support number at 1-888-266-7848. When you connect to a representative, ask for your phone to be unlocked. If you’re active overseas military personnel, you’ll also have to provide proof of your overseas deployment papers.

The unlock request can take up to two business days to process. Keep your SIM card inside of the phone until you get an email or notification that the unlock went through properly.

How to unlock your phone from Verizon to change your wireless carrierHow to unlock an AT&T phone to use with other carriersHow to transfer your contacts from an iPhone to an Android in 3 waysHow to sign up for Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program and get a new discounted iPhone every year

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