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Looking to buy the iPhone XS? These are the best deals

Don't pay full price until you've looked at these options from AT&T, Best Buy, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and US Mobile.

James Martin/CNET

The new iPhone XS and XS Max start at $1,000 and rise sharply from there. Ouch. The iPhone XR is more affordable at $749, but it's not available for preorder for about another month.

Thankfully, there are deals to be had on Apple's new flagships. Four of them come from the Big Four carriers, while the fifth (and arguably best) comes from a carrier that operates on Verizon's network.

Although we've focused primarily on the iPhone XS in these deals, most of the carriers have options for the XS Max as well. (Currently, only one, US Mobile, supports the iPhone XR.)

Read more: iPhone deals: Save big on last year's models

Read more: How to preorder the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR

AT&T and Verizon: Buy a new iPhone, get another iPhone free

If you're looking for two phones instead of one, check out the options from AT&T and Verizon: Both will give you a "free" second iPhone when you buy a new one -- but that freebie comes in the form of service credit paid out during the two (or more!) years that you lease the phones.

AT&T, for example, will lease you the iPhone XS for $33.34 per month -- for a period of 30 months. But the service credits during that time will fully cover the cost of an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus.

Verizon, meanwhile, charges $41.66 per month for 24 months for the iPhone XS (64GB). When you buy a second iPhone -- anything from the iPhone 8 ($259 at eBay) on up to the iPhone XS Max ($418 at Amazon) (but in the 256GB configuration, for some reason) -- you'll get amortized credits worth $700.

Needless to say, these prices don't include the costs for your lines of service, which are offered at the carriers' standard rates. But there's no trade-in required.

Sprint: Free iPhone XS with an eligible trade-in

If you take it as read that a Big Four-carrier unlimited service plan is going to cost you at least $60 per month, then Sprint has a pretty tempting deal: When you preorder an iPhone XS (64GB), trade in an eligible phone and sign up for an 18-month Sprint Flex Lease, the phone itself will cost you $0 -- you pay only for service.

That service actually starts at $40 per month, for a plan that includes 2GB of high-speed data. But Sprint's Unlimited plans range from $60-$90 -- on par with what the other Big Four carriers charge.

As for eligible trades, here's the list: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 ($184 at Amazon), iPhone 7 Plus ($269 at Amazon), Samsung Galaxy S9 ($165 at Walmart), Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung Galaxy S8 ($150 at Walmart), Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, Samsung Galaxy Note8, Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 2 XL.

T-Mobile: Save up to $300 with eligible trade-in

T-Mo's deal is pretty straightforward: Trade in an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 8 and you'll get a $300 credit that's amortized out across 24 bill credits. (In other words, you're agreeing to two years of T-Mobile service.)

You can also get credit for older iPhones: $200 for the 6S and 6S Plus, or $100 for just about any model prior to those (including as far back as the iPhone 3GS!).

Meanwhile, the phone itself can be financed for $280 down and $30 per month, again for a period of 24 months. As for service, T-Mo's single-line unlimited plan costs $70 per month.

US Mobile: Save $400

US Mobile's deal is a little different -- and arguably the best option currently available, because there's no trade-in required. 

If you're willing to switch, the Verizon-powered carrier will give you a $400 credit to use over the next 12 months. Just activate a new line of service when you bring your iPhone XR, iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max and a new or ported-in number.

To take advantage of the deal, just buy US Mobile's Starter Kit for $3.99, making sure to apply promo code CHEAP400 at checkout. Next, order your new iPhone from Apple, wait for it and the Starter Kit to arrive, then activate both using the second promo code that'll arrive from US Mobile.

This is one of the few deals that includes the iPhone XR, which isn't due to ship until late October. But US Mobile's offer gives you until the end of November to activate service, so you've got some buffer. Read more about the deal in my original post from earlier this week.

Best Buy: Trade in for a gift card worth up to $275

Do you have an iPhone 7 or newer model you're willing to trade in? Take it to a Best Buy store for agift card worth up to $275. You can use the site's online estimator to get the exact trade-in value before getting in the car.

Best Buy also offers new-iPhone preorders from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, but also lists the various deals available directly from those carriers (including trade-ins). It's not immediately clear how your Best Buy gift card might be applied to any of those activations, though I'm sure the in-store salespeople will be able to explain it.

Which iPhone deal strikes you as the most attractive? Or are you going to sit out this round of upgrades and wait for lower prices down the road?

Originally published on Sept. 14, 2018.

Update, Sept. 18: Added Best Buy.

Everything Apple announced at its Sept. 12 event: Our exhaustive roundup.

Read MoreAll the latest AT&T coupons

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