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What Apple Could Do With iPhone 15 Prices This Year

Price tags have dramatically increased since the original iPhone. And that may happen again in 2023, except not in the way you might think.

Steve Jobs holding iPhone
Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, at the MacWorld Expo.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Apple unveiled the first iPhone for $499 in 2007, an eye-watering price at the time. Since then, the cost of Apple's iconic product has steadily -- sometimes dramatically -- increased, due to a wide array of factors, like improved technology and features. The tech giant also faces consistent pressure to keep growing its booming iPhone business, which accounts for nearly half its revenue. 

Apple's iPhones have only become more expensive over the last 15 years, even when you adjust for inflation. What's less clear, however, is whether that trend will continue next year when the expected iPhone 15 (unofficial name) arrives. With macroeconomic challenges dampening smartphone demand and Apple's history of changing prices, it's difficult to make predictions. 

"There is enough downward pressure on the market right now that it's not going to be easy for Apple to increase prices," said the International Data Corporation's Bryan Ma.  

Read more: iPhone 15 Rumors: All The Buzz About Apple's Next Phone

How the iPhone's price has changed over time

Today's iPhones are significantly more expensive than Apple's early models. The steepest price increase occurred over the last six years, however. In 2016, the price climbed up to $649 for the iPhone 7. The following year, Apple charged $50 more for the iPhone 8, and in 2018, the iPhone XR was $50 more than that (starting at $749). 

When Apple released the iPhone 11 in 2019, the price dropped back to $699, making it the lowest-priced phone the tech giant had launched in two years at the time. But that break didn't last long. The year after, the iPhone hit its highest price ever: $829 for the iPhone 12 -- partially thanks to the introduction of 5G. That means in six years, the starting price for a "regular" iPhone has increased $180 at face value, without adjusting for inflation. (You can scroll down to the bottom to our chart that tracks the price changes of Apple's iPhone from 2007 to 2022.)

To be fair, Apple hasn't increased the prices of the regular iPhone and the pro iPhones in the two years since the iPhone 12. But it has employed clever pricing strategies that make it more expensive to buy into the flagship iPhone lineup. For instance, Apple debuted the iPhone 12 Mini in 2020. It retailed for $729 unlocked which dropped to $699 if you activated it on a carrier at the time of purchase. That means the Mini sells for the exact same price as the previous year's iPhone 11 -- even though the former is a smaller device positioned as a more budget-friendly option. Fast-forward to 2022, and suddenly the Mini is missing from the iPhone lineup. (Apple discontinued it in favor of the iPhone 14 Plus.) Without an iPhone 14 Mini, the price of buying into the iPhone 14 series is now $829. That's higher than last year's buy-in price by $100. 

iphone x iphone 8 8 plus

The iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus side by side.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For next year's iPhone 15, the buy-in price of the upcoming flagship lineup or the price of the regular iPhone 15, is currently expected to remain the same, according to analysts and rumors. However, the upper limit of the price range could be pushed higher thanks to the rumored debut of a luxe iPhone 15 Ultra, which would replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This falls in line with predictions from seasoned Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who expects Apple to differentiate further between the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max models.

"It's the best practice via a precise product segmentation strategy to generate more sales/profits in a mature market," Kuo wrote in a post on Twitter in September.

It's no secret that phone prices have soared as technology has progressed. New features like 5G, advanced cameras and foldable displays all make for more expensive phones.  Thankfully, even Apple's priciest iPhone is still cheaper than foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which starts at $1,800 without a trade-in. But it's getting close. Case in point: The highest-storage variant of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (1TB) will set you back $1,599 -- and that's before you throw in sales tax, Apple Care, a phone case and anything else you might need to use your new iPhone.

 A floating glass orb is the design of Apple's Singapore store.

Apple's flagship store in Singapore, which opened early in 2020.

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

iPhone prices around the world

Despite the surge in iPhone prices, most people in the US don't feel the pinch since carriers typically offer discounts and subsidies, shaving hundreds of dollars off the list price to encourage upgrades. In fact, for the iPhone 14 lineup, AT&T offered a "free" iPhone 14 when you trade in an older iPhone. Trading in an iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB will net you the full deal value as long as everything works and nothing is broken. 

Read more: Best AT&T Phone Deals: Up to $800 Off From New Phones from Apple, Samsung, and More

Outside the United States, it's a little different. Even as Apple kept the price of its iPhone generally steady in the US, it hiked prices in some Asian and European countries where currencies have dropped against the dollar in the past year. Shoppers in the UK had to contend with a price increase of approximately $80 for the iPhone 14, which starts at £849 compared to the iPhone 13's price tag of £779. Meanwhile, people in Japan were dealt one of the highest prices globally, approximately $150 more, due mostly to a slumping yen.

Now playing: Watch this: iPhone 14 Review: A Decent Upgrade for Most
9:53

iPhone 13 and 14 prices outside the US


UK Japan
iPhone 13 £779 ¥98,800
iPhone 14 £849 ¥119,800
Price change £70 price increase ($85) ¥21,000 price increase ($155)

But the iPhone 14 didn't see a price hike in mainland China, Apple's largest market outside the US, despite a drop in the country's yuan currency. At the same time, iPhone demand in China has softened in recent years as the country grapples with economic pressures resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns.

How Apple will price the upcoming iPhone 15 is anyone's guess. However, industry analysts say it will be tough for Apple to increase prices for the regular iPhone in 2023 given the looming risk of a recession as well as Apple's success with the expansion of instalment plans. 

"I'm sure that the engineering team would love to cram more sophisticated components into the product as competitive differentiators," said the IDC'S Ma. "But if the macroeconomic gloom is still lingering one year from now, then that will be at odds with the ability of consumers to keep up, even if Apple fans tend to be more resilient and premium users."

iPhone prices in the US over the years

Year Regular iPhone model Starting price iPhone Plus/Mini model Starting price iPhone Pro model Starting price iPhone Pro Max Model Starting price
2007 iPhone 1 $499





2008 iPhone 3G $599





2009 iPhone 3GS $599





2010 iPhone 4 $599 





2011 iPhone 4S $599





2012 iPhone 5 $649





2013 iPhone 5S $649





2014 iPhone 6 $649 iPhone 6 Plus




2016 iPhone 7 $649 iPhone 7 Plus $769



2017 iPhone 8 $699 iPhone 8 Plus $799



2017



iPhone X $999

2018 iPhone XR $749



iPhone XS Max $1,099
2019 iPhone 11 $699

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro Max
2020 iPhone 12 $829 iPhone 12 Mini $729 iPhone 12 Pro $999 iPhone 12 Pro Max $1,099
2021 iPhone 13 $829 iPhone 13 Mini $699 iPhone 13 Pro $999 iPhone 13 Pro Max $1,099
2022 iPhone 14 $829 iPhone 14 Plus $899 iPhone 14 Pro $999 iPhone 14 Pro Max $1,099
2023 *Rumored price iPhone 15 $829* iPhone 15 Plus
iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 Ultra