Update (April 20, 2:40 p.m. PT): Several aspects of this deal have changed since it first went live on the morning of April 17, most notably the unlock policy: It's now 360 days, not six months as previously indicated. However, Red Pocket has promised to honor the six-month agreement for anyone who purchased (or purchases) a phone using the promo code listed below. The original price, $274 with code, is no longer available, but the current one -- $324 with six months of service -- remains competitive.
My original entry -- including two earlier updates -- follows:
The new iPhone SE has arrived, effectively packing the guts of an iPhone 11 into a smaller, more pocket-friendly frame. At $399, it's the most affordable model in Apple's lineup -- but allow me to blow your mind with a considerably better deal.
For a limited time, Red Pocket Mobile is offering the new iPhone SE for $324, along with six free months of service. Just apply promo code CHEAPSKATESE at checkout. That's not only $75 off the regular price of the phone, but a $90 savings on the plan. The code is valid through April 21, or while iPhone SE stock lasts.
Update (April 17): This deal has seen several changes throughout the day. First the Red Pocket site crashed, then the carrier ran out of its initial inventory of phones. As of this afternoon, there's more stock available -- but the prices are $50 higher than they were initially. It's still a good deal, especially with my promo code knocking that extra $25 off, just not as good as it was.
Given that most other iPhone SE discounts require you to either trade in a phone or sign up for an extended contract (or both), this is an unusually good deal. Although the phone arrives locked, Red Pocket will unlock it for you after six months, as stated in the carrier's unlocking policy (and confirmed by a company representative). Update (April 20, 7:11 a.m. PT): This morning I learned that this policy now indicates 360 days, not six months. This is in direct conflict with what I was told last week and what was clearly stated on Red Pocket's help page. I've reached out to the company for comment but have yet to receive a response.
The free plan affords you unlimited calls and text messages, plus 3GB of high-speed data per month on a GSM network (which, although Red Pocket doesn't explicitly say so, is AT&T). If you want to continue on that same plan, you can do so for a very reasonable $15 a month. Red Pocket also sells 360-day service plans via eBay, including this 5GB option for $240 -- which works out to $20 a month.
As for the iPhone itself, the "SE 2" comes in three colors and offers various iPhone 11-class features, including an A13 Bionic processor, Qi wireless charging and a 12-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization. Read CNET's iPhone SE preview to learn more.
Not everyone wants a huge phone, and not everyone can afford to pay $1,000 for a flagship model or even $600 for a midrange phone like the iPhone XR. At $399, the new iPhone SE was already pretty appealing. At $324 with six months of service? That's pretty sweet.
Read more: iPhone SE vs. Pixel 3A, Galaxy S10E, Galaxy A51: What's the best budget phone?
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