I followed my own advice and bought a last generation iPhone – I do not regret anything

I spent an exciting, exhausting week last September with the new Apple iPhone 14 in hand before it went on sale. I did everything I could during that week: navigating, web browsing, recording video, gaming, selfies, ferry rides, selfies on the ferryyou name it – to try and answer the $800 question: should you buy it?

The answer, which I now agree with, is “probably not”. It’s a great phone, but it’s not much better than the iPhone 13. Sure, it makes sense to pick the 14 if your carrier gives you a lot or if you spend a lot of time out of cellular range where the new Emergency SOS could being a literal lifesaver. Or go for the iPhone 14 Pro if you’re looking for the latest features. But for the rest of us, the iPhone 13 is just as good, with the added benefit of costing a little less.

I’m a woman of my word, so when it became clear it was time to upgrade my iPhone 11 before the resale value fell off a cliff, I went straight to the iPhone 13 – the Mini, to be precise, which has dropped to $600. Since late last year, I’ve spent a lot of time testing the latest generation of high-end phones: the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Google Pixel 7 Pro, and a recent revision of the iPhone 14 Pro. They are all great phones in their own way. But when it came time to make my own decision about which phone to buy, I chose none of those latest and greatest devices. No, I traded my 11 (along with a little piece of my soul) to Verizon for the humble little iPhone 13 Mini, and I haven’t looked back.

It fits beautifully in the outside pocket of my mommy-at-the-playground chic fanny pack

I chose the Mini because I like a small phone, and it seems very likely that the 13 Mini will be the last Good small phone. But even if you prefer a bigger phone, I still think the 13 is where it’s at. You don’t get the improved camera hardware and handling of the 14, but overall it’s still a good camera – decent photos in portrait mode, very good video and an ultra-wide view for a bit of drama. And you get photographic styles and cinematic video mode – both of which I use regularly (rich contrast, unite!).

Aside from the camera, the 13 Mini remains a very good phone by modern standards, even a year and a half after launch. Battery life isn’t its forte, but it’s enough to get me through a day of moderate use by a comfortable margin. It fits beautifully in the outside pocket of my mommy-at-the-playground chic fanny pack. It is fast and responsive thanks to the A15 Bionic processor. It has MagSafe and therefore wireless charging. It also has a physical SIM tray, while the iPhone 14 is all eSIM. Most people don’t need to worry about this; I change phones once a week and eSIM makes my life hell.

The 13 Mini isn’t perfect. There are things I’d like but wouldn’t get on the iPhone 14 for the most part anyway – they’re features reserved for the more expensive 14 Pro. And while the 14 is only moderately more expensive than the 13 Mini ($800 vs $600), the $1,000 14 Pro is a lot of comparatively more expensive. A smoothly scrolling 120Hz screen, telephoto lens, always-on display: all Pro-only. They are very nice things to have, but are they $400 nicer? Maybe. But not for me, not now.

That’s the question it always comes down to: not what’s the best phone, but which is the best phone for me? That’s the question I spend most of my days trying to help people answer. It’s nice to designate winners and losers, but when it comes to something as personal as your phone, choosing the right one to live with is always a bit more complicated than that.