Right Now Is a Terrible Time to Buy an iPhone
Maybe your iPhone is getting a little worse for wear and it's about time to replace it. But hold off on upgrading to a new one, because right now is a terrible time to buy an iPhone.
See, new iPhones are released in the fall, and that means the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X will soon be old news. Even if you don't feel compelled to buy one of the new models, it pays to wait. If history repeats itself, last year's iPhones will soon be getting a discount.
Read on for our guide to those iPhone price drops and release dates, the best time to buy, and what you can expect from the 2018 handsets.
September Should Bring Price Cuts
Apple generally discounts previous-generation models when launching new ones. This held true last year, too. When the Silicon Valley tech giant debuted its iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X on September 12, it lowered prices on previous-gen models. The iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, and 7 Plus each dropped by $100, while the older iPhone SE got a $50 price cut.
That means current-gen iPhones will soon be cheaper than they are today, so waiting to buy will help your wallet.
When to Expect the 2018 iPhones
When Apple plans to unveil its 2018 iPhones — and, in turn, discount 2017 models — is still up for speculation.
It's safe to say that Apple will show off its new handsets sometime in early September. For historical reference, let's take a look at new iPhone announcement and release dates since the iPhone 4S came out in 2011.
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone X: Announced on Tuesday, September 12, 2017; iPhone 8 released on Friday, September 22, 2017; iPhone X released on Friday, November 3, 2017
- iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Announced on Wednesday, September 7, 2016; released on Friday, September 16, 2016
- iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: Announced on Wednesday, September 9, 2015; released on Friday, September 25, 2015
- iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Announced on Tuesday, September 9, 2014; released on Friday, September 19, 2014
- iPhone 5s: Announced on Tuesday, September 10, 2013; released on Friday, September 20, 2013
- iPhone 5: Announced on Wednesday, September 12, 2012; released on Friday, September 21, 2012
- iPhone 4S: Announced on Tuesday, October 4, 2011; released on Friday, October 14, 2011
As you can see, Apple has pretty much kept the same launch timing schedule since 2012. The company generally starts taking preorders a few days after unveiling new handsets, then officially releases the phones a week after preorders begin. Last year's iPhone X took longer to arrive, and product delays have become more common for Apple in recent years.
Looking at all the historical data and the calendar for 2018, CNET speculates Apple will announce this year's slate of iPhones on Wednesday, September 12, and release them on Friday, September 21.
But like the iPhone X last year, one of the new handsets could be delayed. The cheapest of the three phones Apple is said to be readying — a 6.1" model with an LCD screen — could be delayed until October due to "issues with LED backlight leakage," Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty recently predicted, according to Barron's.
Starting Prices Went Up Last Year
From 2011 through 2016, the base iPhone each year started at $649 for the unlocked version. That changed in 2017, when Apple priced the cheapest iPhone 8 (the 64GB version) at $699. The iPhone 8 Plus is priced from $799. That's $30 more than its predecessor, 2016's iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone X — Apple's premium 10th-anniversary handset with a notched OLED screen — starts at $999, making it the most expensive iPhone ever.
iPhone Deals Could Arrive Immediately
Shortly after the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus launched in 2017, we saw a deal from Walmart that offered $100 off preorders. Then around Black Friday last year, we saw solid yet brief deals on Apple's latest-gen models, including a $300 gift card with purchase at Walmart, a $250 gift card with purchase at Target, and up to $200 off at Best Buy. This January, T-Mobile, then Verizon, ran what were essentially buy one, get one promotions on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, offering $700 off a second.
As for the iPhone 7, the first noted discount was spotted in January 2017, four months after the phone's launch. It was available on eBay at that time for $630, or $19 off. A $100 price drop coinciding with the iPhone 8 launch this past September brought the price of the entry-level 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus down to $549 and $669, respectively.
When to Buy an iPhone
If you have your heart set on one of the new models Apple will likely announce this fall (more on them below), check out Walmart for a possible deal right away. If that doesn't work, it might be in your best interest to postpone your upgrade until Black Friday or January, so you can snag a discount.
If you plan on upgrading to an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus this year, wait until at least September, when you'll likely be able to get one for $599 or $699, respectively. These handsets will probably receive further discounts on Black Friday.
And if you want a used iPhone instead of a new one? According to the pre-owned-tech marketplace Swappa, used iPhone models "constantly depreciate," but prices are expected to "plummet as we approach September." The site says that "anytime after November is a great time to buy" a used iPhone. As of June, the average used iPhone 8 was going for $562.
Three New Models Are Coming
Rumor has it Apple is gearing up to announce three new iPhones this fall. Two are premium models with OLED screens like the iPhone X, measuring 5.8" and 6.5". The other is a more affordable 6.1" LCD handset, with a single- instead of dual-lens camera and an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel.
As for price, the 6.1" LCD model could debut for $700 to $800, according to MacRumors, while the 5.8" OLED iPhone X successor could go for $999. The larger 6.5" OLED — perhaps dubbed the iPhone X Plus — could be $100 more at $1,099.
Meanwhile, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons they could be cheaper, with the 6.1" LCD model going for $600 to $700, the 5.8" OLED at $800 to $900, and the massive 6.5" OLED model at $900 to $1,000.
Expect Incremental Upgrades
Overall, expect more incremental design and spec upgrades than we saw last year. All three handsets are expected to look like the iPhone X, complete with that controversial notch (aka cutout) at the top of the screen for the camera and no home button.
Speaking of the camera, there are rumblings that the so-called iPhone X Plus will have three lenses on the back, which would let you zoom in with less blurriness. Don't get too excited about this feature, however, because it seems more likely that Apple will slap dual-lens back cameras on this year's 5.8" and 6.5" OLED models, and save the triple-lens feature for its 2019 lineup.
Kuo says the premium model will come in black, white, and a new gold shade, according to 9to5Mac. He predicts the LCD model will come in several shades, including gray, white, blue, red, and orange.
One persistent rumor indicates that Apple is planning to abandon Qualcomm LTE chips this year due to its ongoing legal battle with the company, and instead opt for Intel modems only. Qualcomm's chief financial officer George Davis seemed to confirm this during an earnings call last month, according to CNBC.
"We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitors' modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release," Davis said, according to the report. "We will continue to provide modems for Apple legacy devices."
As for what actually comes to pass this fall, we'll just have to wait and see.
Readers, do you plan to buy a new or previous-gen iPhone when the new models are announced? What's the best iPhone deal you've seen? Let us know in the comments below!