New additions! If you're planning to buy Apple's latest, these are the absolute cheapest ways to get it.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Preorders for the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max kicked off last week, with general availability due on Sept. 20. The starting price for Apple's new flagship? A surprisingly low $699, which have led some to suggest that price is the iPhone 11's best feature. Of course, the key there is "starting"; if you're looking for more than 64GB of storage or want the fancy cameras available in the iPhone 11 Pro lineup, be prepared to spend more. (Pro tip: The extra $50 for the 128GB version of the iPhone 11 is money well spent -- only about $2 more per month if you're buying on a 24-month payment plan.)
Are there deals? Discounts? Any ways at all to save money on this splurgey purchase? Yes to all three questions, though the best deal might be choosing a previous-generation iPhone. Let's take a look at the very best iPhone 11 deals you can get right now. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
When I first looked at Verizon's trade-in deal, I was turned off by the "up to $500" language. And, sure enough, when I specified an iPhone 7 as my trade, I was shown a market value of just $97. But if you continue on through the sign-up process (and are indeed trading in an iPhone 7 or later), you should get the full $500 -- plus a $200 prepaid debit card.
As you might expect, however, that $500 is provided in the form of bill credit over the course of 24 months, and of course you'll need Verizon service on top of that. If you're hoping to get on Verizon's network and save money on a new iPhone, you might want to check out Visible's offer, below.
If you weren't even aware that Xfinity offered mobile phone service, I suspect you're not alone. But the cable company's plans -- available only to Xfinity customers -- are fairly competitive, starting at just $12 per month.
The iPhone deal works like this: Preorder any new model, activate a new line of service, port in your number from another carrier and keep the line active for at least three months. With those requirements satisfied, you'll receive a $250 prepaid debit card. What's more, you can prepay in full for the phone or finance it interest-free over 24 months.
Apple has long offered an iPhone trade-in program that would net you credit towards the purchase of a new model, but this year the company is getting aggressive about it: The trade-in option is the first thing you see on the iPhone 11 order page. The "default" option is a $300 credit for an iPhone 8 Plus, but newer models can fetch you up to $600.
Assuming you already own your old iPhone outright, and you're willing to part with it, the best deal on a new iPhone may well be the trade-in deal.
If you're a Sam's Club member, you can get a $200 gift card (for use in the store) when you preorder any iPhone 11 model and activate service with AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular or Verizon. Take note, however, that according to the fine print, you have a narrow window in which to activate your phone and receive your gift card: between Friday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 22.
Sprint's deal is just about the only true "freebie" option you'll find. With a qualified trade-in and a new line of service, you can get the iPhone 11 (64GB) for $0 down and $0 per month (in the form of bill credit). Want 128GB or 256GB? You'll pay $50 or $150 up front. Service plans range from $40-80 per month, which are Sprint's standard rates.
So, what trade-ins qualify? Any iPhone 7 or newer. Assuming you're willing to lock in for 18 months, the phone really is free.
Looking for the iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max? Those are also available at steep discounts with your trade-in, starting at $12.50 and $16.67 per month (plus service).
Apple's trade-in deal is appealing if you want to walk away with an unlocked iPhone 11 you can take to any carrier. (These are the cheapest options for service, if you're interested.) But T-Mobile has a potentially better deal, especially for iPhone 7 owners looking to upgrade.
Indeed, where Apple will give you just $150 for an iPhone 7 or $200 for an iPhone 7 Plus, T-Mobile is offering a $350 credit on those models -- effectively shaving 50% off the price of an iPhone 11. The catch: You have to sign up for a 24-month service plan. (That could work out to a higher cost overall than if you spend more on the phone itself but find a cheaper plan.)
T-Mo's entire trade-in program is available to current customers as well as new ones.
Visible is Verizon's prepaid service, offering a single flat-rate service plan for $40 a month. If you buy your new iPhone 11 from Visible and keep your service active for at least two months, you'll get a $200 prepaid Mastercard.
This is one of the better iPhone 11 deals. You're not roped into a lengthy service agreement, and you're getting a Verizon-backed service plan at a competitive rate. Not happy after two months? Move on to another carrier.
Originally posted earlier this month. Updated with new deals.
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