wildlife – I miss my Pentax Spot-o-Matic but must choose a camera for amateur nature photography; get a new iPhone or an actual camera?

I need help deciding between a phone and an actual camera for amateur nature photography. I need something that can be ON by the time I’ve raised it and quick to focus when I’m in a hurry, and will be able to manage residual motion when I don’t have time to steady myself because the thing’s gonna fly away any second.

The main constraint is that I am relatively poor (by choice) and so this needs to be an either-or situation.

My background and context in photography come from these three cameras:

  1. Asahi/Pentax Spot-o-Matic with I think f/1.8 50 mm I didn’t care about grain, I shot kilograms of high ASA film, developed the B&W myself and dropped the ASA 400 Ektachrome off at the corner drug store. I was so happy with my photos!
  2. Sony DSC DSC-W55 (2007, 7.2 megapixels, NO Manual Mode, 3× optical zoom) ugh.
  3. iPhone 6 vanilla (i.e. no photo app, lots of fumbling with screen controls)

Case in point. I think this orange dragonfly species is either a younger version of the red or a cousin, but they are much, much more sensitive to motion and get spooked at much farther distances than the red one:

All photos from iPhone 6.

I have lots of blurry pictures of very colorful lizards running away because they’ve noticed that I’ve gotten too close, and some beautiful birds recognize my gaze and flee when they are only 100 pixels tall.

I need to decide soon if I should upgrade to an iPhone 11 or 12 with their better cameras than the 6 and actual optical zoom, or buy a used or new point-and-shoot or better actual camera.

Question: What are the key points I need to consider when choosing a point-and-shoot that I can use quickly with a fast lens (low f/no) and is also fast to focus and control, (used or new) and how can I compare that to getting an iPhone 11 or 12 with its better camera and optical zoom? Are there specific types of features that will allow people like me to shoot jumpy, skittish wildlife at a farther distance than I can do with my current phone?