Wal-Mart Throws Down Discount Gauntlet in iPhone 5S Price Competition

Source: Apple.comThe Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) product pricing war that kicks off between various major retailers every time the California-based company releases a new product shows no sign of slowing down, even as the latest iPhone models are approaching six months in age. As usual, discount retail giant Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) is leading the price battle with a new iPhone sales promotion.

As reported by CNN Money, Walmart announced this week that it is dropping its 16GB iPhone 5S price from $145 to $119 and the 16GB iPhone 5C price from $45 to $29. However, as with any sales promotion, there are a few stipulations. Customers must sign up for a standard two-year service contract with AT&T (NYSE:T) or Verizon (NYSE:VZ) in order to qualify for the discounted prices. Wal-Mart’s latest discount makes its iPhone 5S price even lower than Best Buy’s (NYSE:BBY) $149.99 iPhone 5S sale price.

As noted by CNN Money, Wal-Mart’s heavily discounted iPhones may stoke rumors of an early iPhone 6 release date, since sales often herald new product arrivals. In a recent note to investors obtained by StreetInsider, Mizuho Securities analyst Abhey Lamba predicted that Apple would introduce its next-generation iPhone in the summer, instead of the usual fall launch. However, it should be noted that most other industry watchers believe Apple will follow the usual product refresh cycle and release the next iPhone model in the fall.

Customers can further reduce the amount of cash they drop on a new iPhone by trading in one of their old devices. Both Wal-Mart and Best Buy offer gift cards for customers’ old cell phones, tablets, and other devices.

Meanwhile, Target (NYSE:TGT) is specifically promoting the sale of Apple’s devices by offering customers an extra $50 for their smartphone trade-ins if they purchase an iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C with a two-year service agreement, reports TechnoBuffalo. Target’s iPhone 5S is currently priced at $150, while the iPhone 5C sells for $49. Both iPhone sale prices require a contract with AT&T, Sprint (NYSE:S), or Verizon. It should also be noted that Target’s cell phone trade-in offer is only valid in-store at certain locations. Check Target’s trade-in page to find the participating store location nearest to you.

Retailers are also promoting the sale of Apple’s latest iPad models. According to TechnoBuffalo, Target will offer customers “at least” $150 for a used iPad 2 model or newer beginning on March 9 and running through March 15.  Target will also offer customers a $30 gift card along with their trade-in value. This deal will give trade-in customers at least $180 toward a new iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: