Let's face it, you're always going to pay a premium for Apple gear -- but if you're willing to forgo the latest and greatest in favor of last year's models, you can definitely save some serious cash.
Apple price cuts and refurbs
As always, the arrival of new iPhones ($1,000 at Amazon) means price cuts on previous-gen models. The iPhone 7, for example, now starts at $449, while the iPhone 8 starts at $599. The iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus: $569 and $699.
Remember, if you will, that just two years ago, the iPhone 7 was Apple's flagship phone. At the time, everything about it was "the best we've ever done," to paraphrase Tim Cook and co. Just because there are newer models doesn't mean the iPhone 7 is any less capable -- it simply means the phone is now $200 less than it was.
You can do even better than that by choosing a refurbished model. At Apple's online Refurbished iPhone store, for example, that same iPhone 7 is just $379. The iPhone 7 Plus: $479. Those are price cuts on top of price cuts.
The good news about Apple refurbs: They're literally as good as new. They come with a new outer shell, a new battery and a one-year warranty. (Mark your calendar: Roughly two years from now, you should be able to score a refurbished iPhone XR for around the same price.)
The bad news about Apple refurbs: Supplies are limited, and they change over time, so it's easy to miss out on the model you want. Thankfully, there'sand can notify you when an item becomes available.
Want to score even bigger savings? Or are you looking for an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus? (Those models have yet to appear in Apple's refurb store.) In the weeks to come, start trolling marketplaces such as Decluttr, Gazelle, Glyde, NextWorth and Swappa. There's about to be a flood of used iPhone 7 and 8 models on those sites -- and that flood means lower prices.
You can also see what's available locally on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, or check auction listings on eBay. These are riskier propositions, as you don't get any kind of guarantee when buying directly from the previous owner. Most of the aforementioned sites offer at least some kind of protection for the buyer: verified inspections, a return window and so on.
Take note, however, that when you buy a used iPhone (or a refurb from a source other than Apple), you're taking a bigger gamble. The battery won't be brand-new, meaning it won't give you maximum runtime, and you won't get much in the way of a warranty.
Long live the iPhone 6S?
Let's not overlook another former flagship: the iPhone 6S. It features Touch ID, 3D Touch, a 12-megapixel camera and, wait for it... a headphone jack! It will also run iOS 12, which Apple plans to release next week.
Refurbished-phone seller Back Market -- notable for offering "good as new" iPhones and MacBooks ($865 at Walmart) with a minimum six-month warranty -- thinks the 6S deserves another look. At this writing, for example, you could get an unlocked gold or silver iPhone 6S (64GB) in "shiny" (i.e. like-new) condition for $269. Three years ago, in September 2015, it was $750.
Budget-minded phone buyers tend to balk at Apple's premium prices, and with good reason: There are much cheaper alternatives on the Android side. But pretty much every iPhone is -- or was -- a premium phone, and a model that's two or three years old still has plenty to offer. Indeed, when you can get a $650 phone for $379, it's time to party like it's 2016.
: Our exhaustive roundup.
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