With the expected unveiling of the new iPhone 6s just days away, you may have already decided that you’re going to upgrade to a new iPhone as soon as preorders go live. Or, you may be on the fence, weighing whether you want a new iPhone this year or if you can wait until next year. A key variable in solving that dilemma? The price that Apple will charge you for the iPhone 6s.
Ina Fried reports for Re/Code that since the introduction of the original iPhone in 2007, the slide that usually follows the onstage unveiling of the new model has consisted of a simple chart advertising the iPhone’s “delightfully low cost.” The new iPhone often starts at just $199 with a two-year contract, while the previous model drops to $99 and some even older models are free with a contract. But Fried notes that it’s getting increasingly complex for Apple to hide the fact that a new iPhone often costs upwards of $650, and sometimes almost as much as $1000, as multi-year contracts and the accompanying subsidies are being phased out.
The iPhone has been an expensive piece of technology all along, but carrier subsidies have hidden that fact from shoppers, who pay the full price of the phone not upfront, but with their monthly bills. Now, as carriers move away from contracts and subsidies, advertising the cost of the new iPhone 6s will take some ingenuity — and require customers like you to look past the marketing to figure out what you’re really paying.
“When Apple introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, expect them to steal a page from the infomercial playbook,” Fried writes. “Apple will likely focus attention on how, with virtually no money down and low monthly installments, consumers can walk out of the store with the latest greatest device.”
That’s the same strategy that American wireless carriers have used to sell customers on such phone financing plans. The iPhone 6, for instance, unveiled just a year ago, cost only a little more than $21 per month paid over a 30 month period. The total over those 30 months reached, $650, which is the equivalent to the full retail price of the phone. The key is that shoppers find it less painful to pay $21 per month over 2.5 years than to hand over $650 all at once.
Fried notes that this new strategy doesn’t actually change how much your carrier charges you for your phone and your service. She reports, ” In the past, when carriers offered to sell phones at lower prices of $199, it factored the cost of a discounted phone into what it charged per month. Consumers who pick up new phones using the new financing plans get a roughly $25-per-month discount, essentially making things a wash.”
Consumers who really want to buy a new iPhone with a two-year contract still have some options. AT&T still offers contract pricing through its stores and website. Sprint plans to phase out contract pricing, and will shift to a model through which it leases phones to customers.
Verizon has stopped offering contract pricing to new customers, but does enable existing contract customers to continue buying new phones with contracts. T-Mobile is the only one of the major American carriers that offers no contract options at all, as it did away with them completely more than two years ago.
As for what Apple and wireless carriers will actually charge you for the new iPhone 6s, Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac that Apple is expected to offer the same storage capacities as the iPhone 6 — 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB — and charge the same on-contract prices — $199, $299, and $399 for the iPhone 6S, versus $299, $399, and $499 for the iPhone 6S Plus. The iPhone 5s is expected to remain on sale as the on-contract free model, while the iPhone 5c will be discontinued. The new iPhones to be unveiled at Apple’s September 9 iPhone event are expected to open for preorders on September 11 and go on sale on September 18. The new phones will be sold at Apple’s stores, carriers’ stores, and at retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target.
Matt Swider reports for TechRadar that this year’s iPhones are expected to keep the same unlocked prices as last year’s, too. That would put the 16GB iPhone 6s at $649, the 64GB at $749, and the 128GB at $849. The larger iPhone 6s Plus is likely to cost $749 for 16GB, $849 for 64GB, and $949 for 128GB.