Why This Is the Worst Time of the Year to Buy an iPhone

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New iPhone
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If you’re thinking about buying a new iPhone 12, you’re not alone. Four out of 10 iPhone users say they plan to upgrade once the new model is released, according to a recent survey from SellCell.com, a phone price comparison site.

Apple has scheduled a special event for September 15, and some iPhone fans expect to learn about the new phone series at that time. But in materials sent to members of the media, the event was tagged “Time Flies,” so there’s speculation the announcement could be about the Apple watches instead.

Whenever they do go on sale, it’s a very good bet that the new iPhones will be hot sellers.

“iPhones are going to sell lights-out,” money expert Clark Howard said on his podcast recently. “They’re going to sell unbelievable numbers as people decide that this is an upgrade worth having.”

But Clark says that upgrading to an iPhone 12 right now is not a good idea. Instead, he has suggestions on how you can replace your current iPhone and still save money.

How You Can Save Money on an iPhone

Clark says if you’re in the market for a new iPhone, you should consider other models — or you could just wait a bit. 

Get a Deal From a Phone Retailer

If you buy the new iPhone when it first comes out, you’ll pay Apple’s suggested retail price. But if you wait a few weeks and buy from a phone carrier or retailer, you can save some money on the same model.

“If you’re willing to let the people who just gotta have the newest phone right then and there get theirs and you wait three weeks, you’ll likely find deals that they didn’t get,” Clark says on his podcast.

Buy a New Older Generation Phone

New iPhone releases have such an effect on the mobile market that older generation phones — yes, brand-new devices — will usually drop in price, Clark says. “A lot of people want the latest and greatest when Apple has an inflection point, and the new iPhones will be an inflection point,” he says.

Buy a Used Phone

Clark says you can also take advantage of the used phone market to get a better deal when people start trading in their phones to get an iPhone 12.

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“The value of used iPhones will be much, much lower … and you’ll be able to find people’s used and now unloved iPhone at a lower price than they would have been before, so I strongly recommend waiting,” he says.

I can attest to the value of buying a refurbished iPhone as I’ve had mine for a couple of years now.

If you decide to go ahead and buy one of the brand new iPhones as soon as they’re available, SellCell COO Sarah McConomy says there will probably be a silver lining down the road.

“Many consumers might think the iPhone is too expensive. But when it comes to trading in that iPhone a few years later, that phone will actually put more money back in your pocket than other phone brands,” McConomy says. “Compare that to other brands on the market and you will see the phone is worth far less two years later.”

To further illustrate her point, here are cell phone depreciation data from SellCell.com that show how much some of the top recent models decreased in price in June 2020 (the latest information available as of this writing).

Comparison: See How Much Your Cell Phone Depreciates

Cell PhoneOriginal MSRPTrade-In ValueDepreciation ($)Depreciation (%)
Apple iPhone XS Max (64GB)$1,099.00$475.00$624.0056.8%
Apple iPhone XS (64GB)$999.00$440.00$559.0056%
Apple iPhone XR (64GB)$749.00$350.75$398.2553.2%
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (64GB)$840.00$205.00$635.0075.6%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (64GB)$719.00$173.00$546.0075.9%
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128GB)$1,000.00$276.00$724.0072.4%
Google Pixel 3 XL (64GB)$899.00$188.00$711.0079.1%
Google Pixel 3 (64GB)$799.00$166.00$633.0079.2%
Sony XZ2 Premium (64GB)$999.00$127.60$871.4087.2%
Sony XZ2 (64GB)$799.00$105.00$694.0086.9%
LG V40 ThinQ (64GB)$900.00$147.40$752.6083.6%
LG G7 ThinQ (64GB)$749.00$77.00$672.0089.7%

Final Thought

Although many people excited about the latest iPhone are willing to stand in long lines and pay top dollar to pre-order it, Clark has a better idea: If you want to save money on a new iPhone, the key is to wait just a bit after its release.

“The new 5G iPhones will be an inflection point and you’ll be able to find people’s used and now unloved iPhone at a lower price than they would have been before, so I strongly recommend waiting.”

And if you’re in the market for a phone that has been made like-new without the price, here are the best 10 refurbished phone deals.

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