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Which iPhone 13 should you buy? How to choose based on colors alone

The iPhone 13 lineup comes in a rainbow of new colors. Here's how to decide which to buy.

iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro comes in Sierra blue.

Apple/Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

As we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, phone deals are coming out of the woodwork. But if you're set on getting an iPhone 13, deal or no deal, you're in good company. The iPhone 13 arrived earlier this fall and, as is customary, Apple's new phone lineup is one of the hottest gifts of the holiday season. 

The 2021 iPhone lineup comes in a rainbow of colors, some old and some new, and colors vary depending on which model you buy. There are five different color options for the iPhone 13 (including millennial pink) this year and four options if you go with the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max. Whichever color you choose will probably be with you for at least the next two years. If you're not sure which is best for you, I've got a quick explainer of each to help.

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You have almost assuredly owned a black or dark gray phone before. It's a classic color for a reason, it looks great with just about any accessory and if you use it without a case it's less likely you'll see scratches on black glass. The same can not be said of the metal band around the outside of the phone, which in the past has revealed silver underneath if scratched deeply enough. 

Put simply, this is the color you get if you don't care what color your phone is or if your phone is going to live in a case the entire time you own it anyway.


White has been the default alternative option for the iPhone since nearly the beginning, and with good reason. It looks great, and unlike the other color options it's a lot harder to see scratches on the glass and the metal band around the outer edge of the body.

The starlight version of the iPhone also lends itself well to decals and texture patterns, having a brightly colored surface with a bright white base looks amazing, while offering a little extra protection in should you decide you don't need a case. 


In the past Apple has released the Product Red version of the iPhone separately from the primary colors, but this year it's one of the top options. This sharp color stands out in every possible way no matter what lighting you are in, making it a lot harder to accidentally lose in the couch cushions. Every Apple product with the Product Red label sold means a donation to HIV/AIDS treatment programs (though Apple has never said how much). 


Apple fans have been asking for a pink option for a very long time. Not a metallic rose gold, but a proper pink. And it's here, you can now own a pink iPhone. It's also a subtle color, not nearly as loud as the Product Red or blue options, so if you'd rather your phone have a little personality without attracting too much attention in public this is the phone for you. Additionally, because it's such a light shade, it's likely scratches on the body will be a lot less visible than other models.


Apple didn't give this color an over-the-top name like starlight or midnight, because it's unnecessary. You know exactly what color this is when you see it. This phone is blue, in fact it's the most blue phone you can buy today and that includes the more washed-out looking sierra blue offered by the iPhone 13 Pro this year. It's a phone that stands out everywhere, and all but demands you use a clear case if you're going to use one at all.


The matte black of the graphite iPhone 13 Pro is choice you get when you aren't interested in showing off your phone. Whether you know your iPhone is going to live in its case for the entire time you own it or you're just not all that interested in expressing yourself through color, this is your default option. It's a solid option, in fact it's the original color, and the fact that it's not exciting or new should not deter you. 


Every year Apple has a new color option for the iPhone, and this year the new color is Sierra blue. It's a much lighter and brighter shade of blue than the Pacific blue of last year, which in some lighting would be so similar to graphite you could barely tell them apart. This iPhone 13 Pro is undeniably blue, and it will draw attention anywhere. This is the perfect iPhone for someone who wants to use their phone with a clear case or no case at all and let everyone know they have the latest gadget.


It's not as catchy a name as starlight, but the silver iPhone 13 Pro is a classic color with a lot of style to it. Not only is it a nice light color that will look nice underneath a textured decal, but if you manage to scratch the silver version of the phone it will be a lot more difficult to notice the damage thanks to this being so much closer to the natural color of the metal and the lighter glass being more reflective. This is a great iPhone for someone who can't stand owning matte black everything and would appreciate a lighter touch. 


Apple has made a lot of gold-colored products, and they are all a little different. There have been many attempts to play with different shades of gold, including a Champagne and the infamous rose gold. This year's iPhone is a classic, light shade of gold. It's less obvious than the standard shade of gold you would find on a timepiece, with less yellows and a generally softer look and feel. It's the perfect color for someone who appreciates gold, but has no interest in being loud about it.