Why I’ve never paid Apple store prices for an iPhone and you shouldn’t either
I’m not one of those early adopters, but my friend is. She had a Motorola Razr before anyone else in our social circle. Back then, I was still sliding my Samsung and using T9 predictive texting. Checking my email and and using a touchscreen seemed like things I’d never experience on a phone. But when the iPhone came out, she was on it.
The iPhone kept updating, and quickly. Suddenly there was the iPhone 3G, and my friend was onto the next, as early adopters are wont to do. That left her original phone available. Did I want it?
I did. So began my life as an iPhone user. It’s been a decade, and I’ve never stood in any Apple store lines or pre-ordered the latest phone online. Instead, I became adept at the hand-me-down method of procuring Apple’s handsets.
I became adept at the hand-me-down method of procuring Apple’s handsets.
With the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro and Max release Tuesday at Apple headquarters, there are new models in town. The pricing on the latest phones starts at $699. For the top of the line, it’s the same XS pricing from before: $999 and $1,099 for the smallest storage size on those devices. Even if the iPhone 11 is below $1,000 for a single phone, that’s still more money than I’m willing to spend on hardware alone.
For my cheapskate method to work for you, you have to be willing to be one or several generations behind the cutting edge. You will never have the latest iPhone. You have to be OK with this.
The elimination of the free upgrade with your phone provider several years ago (RIP) means people aren’t so fast and loose about their old phones these days. Apple is much more aggressive about recycling old phones and offering discounts for exchanges if you upgrade. There’s even a whole iPhone Upgrade Program to make sure you get the latest phone for what feels like low monthly payments.
At Tuesday’s Apple event, trade-in pricing was emphasized to distract users from the full price —especially with the monthly payment option.
As for me, I’m still rocking the iPhone 6. I bought it off another friend in September 2016 when the iPhone 7 came out. I Venmoed him $200, put in my SIM from my iPhone 5c that I bought at Best Buy with a heavy discount through AT&T, gave my old phone to my sister, and felt like I had entered the future. I finally had Touch ID —this changed everything.
Hand-me-down iPhones can also come from strangers, not just friends and family. Put out a call on Craigslist, NextDoor, or Facebook to see if any local strangers want to offload an older iPhone. The Groupon Goods online store is well-stocked with unlocked and refurbished slightly older iPhone models for sub-$500 prices. Walmart’s online store keeps adding more Apple products.
Apple itself offers refurbished older models for discounted prices, even if the store only officially sells iPhone 8 and newer models after Tuesday’s announcement. Third-party electronic stores like Best Buy are also an option to avoid the Apple store and its shocking prices. The iPhone 11-replaced iPhone X and XS are still available at Best Buy.
While everyone is performing mental gymnastics to justify spending $40 a month to pay off a phone priced beyond the pale, I’m sitting here with admittedly increasingly limited capability, a headphone jack, and a phone I own outright that works well enough. Face ID, what? I’m still reveling three years later that I don’t have to type in my passcode every time I open my phone.
Fun fact: The iPhone 3GS I inherited from my friend when she upgraded? My dad still uses it to this day. No Apple store visits around here.