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iPhone 11, Pro, Max: These are the cheapest carriers for Apple's pricey new phones

Just because the phone itself is expensive doesn't mean service has to be. Check out these affordable options.


You 'll splurge on the phone. Now find service that won't further break the bank.

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Preorders for Apple's three new iPhones -- the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max -- begin on Friday, but whenever you buy, you're going to have to pick a carrier to go with the device. With its starting price of $699, the new iPhone 11 ($699 at Amazon) is being called the best iPhone value in years. Of course, $699 is still a hefty sum, especially if you're buying it outright rather than paying it off monthly as part of a service agreement. And if you're opting for more storage or one of the iPhone 11 Pro models, starting at $999 and $1,099 respectively, the sum gets heftier still.

Then there's the matter of your wireless carrier. Once you've splurged on the phone, will you still be able to afford $50-to-$60 service fee per month, the price for a typical unlimited plan? Good news: You don't have to pay that much, and you don't have to get roped into a service agreement that lasts anywhere from 18 to 30 months. 

Below are the most affordable carriers and plans I could find for the budget-minded iPhone user. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the products and services featured on this page.

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Are you an Optimum or Suddenlink cable subscriber? You may be able to land one of the best deals out there: Unlimited service (on AT&T's or Sprint's network) for just $20 per month. If you're not a subscriber, the plan runs $30 per month -- still competitive, just not quite as attractive.

What's the catch? Although Altice's coverage is nationwide, for now the service itself is available only to residents of about 20 states. Read more about Altice Mobile

Taking a page from Mint Mobile, AT&T is offering a hefty discount on service if you're willing to prepay -- for an entire year. For one lump sum of $300, you get 12 months on the 8GB plan (which includes unlimited calls and texting and 8GB of high-speed data each month). Taxes and fees may run you a bit extra; it's not immediately clear from AT&T's terms and conditions.

One extra perk: The plan includes calling to and from Canada and Mexico.

Mint takes the notion of "prepaid" cell service to the next level: You get price breaks when you pay for three, six or 12 months in advance. So, for example, a payment of $75 would net you three months on the carrier's 3GB plan. 

The deals get better as you go up the tiers, however. Prepay $240, for example (which works out to $20 per month), and you get 12 months on the 8GB plan. Mint relies on T-Mobile's network.

If you don't like the idea of paying a big chunk of cash up front, US Mobile will give you up to $20.83 off whatever monthly plan you choose, for the first 12 months. The carrier offers a choice between customizable and unlimited plans for its GSM LTE and Super LTE networks (T-Mobile and Verizon, respectively).

Here's an example: 200 voice minutes and unlimited texting ($8), 5GB of high-speed data ($15) and 5Mbps data speed ($5). Total: $28. Price per month with the discount: Just $7.17 (not including taxes and fees).

There are other inexpensive options out there, but these rank among my favorites. If you've found a low-cost iPhone plan you like better, tell me about it in the comments!

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