If you're in the market for a new iPhone (and don't need the latest and greatest), you may want to wait a while. Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone, widely referred to as the iPhone 8, is expected to be launch in September and become available shortly thereafter. The new phone will boast an all-new design and if history is any indication, we'll see discounts on the iPhone 7 once the newer model makes its debut.
So when should you pounce on that new handset?
DealNews keeps exhaustive records of iPhone price trends dating back to 2011. The data shows that older iPhones are generally discounted in the fall, after the latest-gen 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.
Regional carriers like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, as well as sites like eBay, Walmart, and Target generally have the best iPhone sales — so check there when you're ready to buy.
Looking back at iPhone price fluctuations over the past few years can give us a better idea of the discounts we might see on the iPhone 7. 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 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. It hit $550 at Virgin Mobile the June after its debut, and dropped to $405 in October 2013 — not long after its successor, the iPhone 5s, was announced. 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 the iPhone 6 was announced in the fall of 2014, the iPhone 5s could be found for $500 on eBay. A year later, the iPhone 6s launched and the two-year-old iPhone 5s dropped to $299 at Walmart.
- The iPhone 6 was released on September 19, 2014 at $649. Before the end of that year, it could be found 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 current flagship), which was released on September 16, 2016 with a starting price tag of $649. By January — three months after 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, however, you may be able to find the iPhone 7 for as little as $300.
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" and 5.5". 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."
This backs up similar rumors saying the iPhone 8 may not go on sale until October. That would be a departure from recent years, considering Apple has launched a flagship smartphone every September since 2012. Rumor has it that the iPhone 8 will be "insanely expensive," at more than $1,000.
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.
Angela Moscaritolo is a contributing writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.