Why this is an unbelievably terrible time to buy an iPhone

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iPhone prices summer 2017
As if the iPhone 8 wasn't enough reason to wait ...
Photo: Rhys Adams/Pixabay

By Angela Moscaritolo, DealNews

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone, you may want to wait awhile. Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone, widely referred to as the iPhone 8, is expected to be released soon. Rumors suggest it’ll boast an all-new design. And if history is any indication, we’ll definitely see discounts on the iPhone 7 once the iPhone 8 makes its debut.

So when should you pounce on that new handset? Read on for our full analysis.

Why you should wait to buy an iPhone

DealNews keeps exhaustive records of iPhone price trends dating back to 2011. Our data shows that older iPhones are generally discounted in the fall, after the latest-generation model is announced. So, if you’re still toting around an iPhone 6s or later, you should definitely wait to upgrade.
If you’re looking for maximum savings, you should push your iPhone purchase back until February.
However, if you’re looking for maximum savings, you should push your iPhone purchase back until February. Regional carriers like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, as well as sites like eBay, Sears, Walmart and Target, generally offer the best iPhone sales — so check there when you’re ready to buy.

iPhone prices will drop this fall

Let’s examine iPhone price fluctuations over the past few years to get a better idea of the kind of discounts we might see on the iPhone 7 and other Apple handsets this fall. Keep in mind that the prices below are for base, unlocked models.

  • The iPhone 4s launched on October 14, 2011 at $649. By the following June, Virgin Mobile was already selling it for $100 off. The phone didn’t see any other major discounts until October 2012, a year after it first hit store shelves, when it fell to $400 at Target a month after the iPhone 5 made its debut.
  • It was a similar story for the iPhone 5, which went on sale September 21, 2012 at $649. That model hit $550 at Virgin Mobile the June after its debut. It dropped to $405 in October 2013, not long after Apple announced its successor, the iPhone 5s. By the end of 2013, it was selling for less than $400.
  • The iPhone 5s hit shelves on September 20, 2013 for $649. It started seeing discounts early the following year, dipping as low as $385 that March at Virgin Mobile. After Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, the iPhone 5s showed up for $500 on eBay. A year later, the iPhone 6s launched and the two-year-old iPhone 5s dropped to $299 at Walmart.
  • Apple released the iPhone 6 on September 19, 2014, at $649. Before the end of that year, you could find it for $640 on eBay. It didn’t dip below $600 until September 2015, when the handset reached $500 on eBay the same month its successor, the iPhone 6s, was announced. By February 2016, it had dropped to $380 at Boost Mobile. It then reached $300 that September at Best Buy, around the time the iPhone 7 made its debut.
  • The iPhone 6s was went on sale September 25, 2015 for $649 and saw a pretty sweet discount right away. Boost Mobile customers were able to snag the handset for $450 when it was brand new. In December 2016, a little over a year after its debut and shortly after the iPhone 7 came out, the iPhone 6s dropped to $399 at Walmart. This past February, you could get it for $350 at Boost Mobile.
  • That brings us to the iPhone 7. Apple’s released its current flagship on September 16, 2016, with a starting price tag of $649. By January of this year — just three months after its launch — you could find it on eBay for $630. Looking ahead, we may see the price of the iPhone 7 drop to $500, or even as low as $400, before the end of 2017 — possibly as early as October. If you can wait until February, you might find the iPhone 7 for as little as $300.

Now we turn our attention to Apple’s 2017 iPhone lineup. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, so excitement is high. Rumors about a major upgrade have been swirling for months.

iPhone 8: An iPhone like no other

Analysts and leakers say Apple is planning to roll out three new iPhones this fall: the 5.8″ iPhone 8 with an OLED screen, and two LCD models measuring 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, corroborating earlier rumors, recently predicted that “the launch date of the OLED version may trail that of LCD models,” according to StreetInsider.

This backs up similar rumors saying the iPhone 8 may not go on sale until October. That would be a pretty big departure from recent years, considering Apple has launched a flagship smartphone every September since 2012. Not since 2011’s iPhone 4s has Apple launched a handset that late in the year. (Other rumor sites say Apple may launch the phone in September.)

Meanwhile, you might want to start saving your money now if you plan to buy the iPhone 8. Rumor has it that the handset will be “insanely expensive.” Some say it’ll start at more than $1,000 — again, a huge departure from the norm.

Carriers might offer iPhone deals

On the plus side, if you’re willing to sign a long-term contract, you might be able to snag a deal. Analysts with Nomura-Instinet say carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile will surely offer “assertive promotions,” either discounting the phone itself or offering attractive payment plans, according to Business Insider.

Whether you’re an early adopter or just need a new phone, you should wait until at least this fall to buy any new iPhone. Remember: If you can delay your purchase until early 2018, you might be able to snag an even better deal.

Readers, what do you think? Are you excited for the latest iPhone? Or do you worry it’ll be too expensive? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Bubba Jones

    Hum, for all the hype I am sticking with my iPhone 6S Plus. Upgrading to iPhone 8 there is not a compelling financial nor business reason. My 6S Plus purchased when released makes and receives calls, texts, surfs, etc. etc. etc. Though I am a heavy user my 6S Plus is a beast, fast, powerful, very good screen, and the camera capture is excellent.

    When it dies or not eligible for iOS updates then I will again purchase another phone. Heck every year I do not purchase a new car, home, TV, household appliances, and the like. Why then each year purchase a new phone?

    Be aware, shortly after iPhone 8 is released there will be rumors of its successor. Let the fun again begin.

    • David Kaplan

      you should stop updating the iOS…. if you want your 6S to be good for the long term stop updating it.

      • Bubba Jones

        David Kaplan, good point. When I owned the 3GS the final iOS update it took did slow it down. Also, updated vendor apps became sluggish. Being as it continued to make and receive calls, text, and surfed I continued using it. When the battery would not last much past noon I purchased a new iPhone. Truly, did get my money out of it, and do miss that small form factor. The 6S Plus is a big phone and I enjoy that screen size. In the pocket it is too large, my next phone will be smaller.

  • perryrants

    EDIT!!
    If you’re looking for maximum savings, you should push your iPhone purchase back until February.

    However, if you’re looking for maximum savings, you should push your iPhone purchase back until February.

  • Param

    I still fail to understand how they are going to market a smartphone that costs a grand or more ( according to rumors ). I am definitely NOT going to buy the 7S/7S Plus…I am TIRED of looking at the same damn design for the last 4 years ( this September ) I had the 6 Plus, upgraded to the 6S Plus…all of them have the same exact front….its just insanely frustrating that Apple is making no efforts in industrial design like it used to…at least as far as smartphones are concerned.

    • I very much doubt that such a huge price increase will happen. $749 or $799 is very possible, but $999+? Not going to happen considering the slight drop in market share that the iPhone has seen over the past year. And the 10-year anniversary is a big deal. Apple will want to recover the lost market share and then some, which means that pricing will need to be competitive. I wouldn’t even be that surprised if the $649 base price continues with the iPhone 8.

      • Param

        I sure hope so! I cannot imagine the loss in user base they’ll have to go through if they price the iPhone over $999.