The release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus raises an important question–is the iPhone 6 worth the cost? While nobody can answer that question for you, I decided to pull together as much information as I could on how to find the best deal on the 6 and 6 Plus.
What a headache. What I thought would be an easy research project turned into numerous online chats with cell phone carriers and even a visit to a Verizon Wireless Store. Good grief!
I encountered conflicting information online. Contract terms were confusing. There are special deals if you have one line only. There are other deals that are the most value if you have multiple lines. And comparing 2-year contract deals with month-to-month or leasing terms (a new thing in the iPhone market) complicates it even further.
The long and short of it is that it’s unbelievably complicated to find the best deal. Below I sort through the details, and provide resources that can help you find the iPhone 6 deal that’s right for you.
Best Deal in the iPhone 6
One of the best deals currently available comes from T-Mobile. They are offering the iPhone 6 for $0 upfront and just $5 a month with eligible trade in. Get the details on the T-Mobile website.
6 Factors to Consider When Choosing an iPhone 6 Deal
Choosing the right cell phone provider depends in part on your specific circumstances. What might be the best deal for one person may not be the best deal for another. Here are six key factors to consider:
1. Number of Lines
The number of lines you have is going to affect where you can get the best deal. Whether you’re going for a single line or multiple lines to accommodate other family members, the price will be affected either way. Some carriers offer better deals on a single line (Verizion, for example), while others offer better deals with four or more lines (Sprint, as you’ll see below).
2. Trading-in Your Phone
You can trade-in your existing iPhone. Actually, you don’t have to go through the carriers to do that. There are other ways to sell a used iPhone, including at an Apple store (Apple calls it a “Recycling Program”) or at several online services. But if you choose to go through the carriers, you have to understand how much you’re going to get and what the details are.
I was chatting online with a rep from Verizon. What I learned is if you have an old iPhone to turn in, it can be a good deal through Verizon. There is a catch, however. You have to sign up for a two-year contract in order to get that trade-in value for your iPhone.
Regardless of which carrier you opt for, make sure you understand not only what you get for your trade-in, but also if there are any hoops you have to jump through or particular plans that you have to sign up for to get that trade-in.
3. Existing Contract
If you have an existing contract that hasn’t expired, some of the carriers will pay you to break your contract with your existing carrier. T-Mobile will pay your early termination fees up to $350. Sprint offers the same deal.
4. Frequent Phone Upgrade
If you like to upgrade phones each time a new model is released, you may want to consider leasing your phone. Relatively new to the iPhone space, carriers are happy to lease you an iPhone for a monthly fee. Sprint has what they call an iPhone For Life, where you pay $20 a month for renting the iPhone. Then two years following that, you can continue to pay your $20 a month. And when the iPhone 7 comes out, you’ll be able to get the iPhone 7.
5. Coverage Area
Verizon and AT&T arguably have the best coverage. Depending on where you live and work, however, the other carriers’ coverage may be just fine. You can check out the coverage areas on each of the carriers’ websites.
6. Workplace Benefits
Finally, you should consider whether you have any benefits through your employer. One of the reasons I’ll be upgrading to the iPhone 6 Plus is that my employer pays for the phone and a significant portion of the monthly charges. Be sure to check to see if your employer reimburses part of the costs or offers other discounts on specific carriers.
Pricing for the 16GB iPhone 6 (1 line)
We are going to examine the deals available for a 16 GB iPhone 6 with one line and 2 GB of data. We’ll also look at some resources you can use to compare plans for other versions of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and multiple lines.
Plan: $50/month (Unlimited Data, talk and text). Special deal for multiple lines – $100/month through 2015; after 2015, you add to that $15 per line.
Phone: There are two options to consider, the iPhone for Life and the Easy Pay plans.
iPhone for Life Plan: You can lease it for $20/month. After two years, you can upgrade to whatever latest iPhone model they have as long as you stay with Sprint and continue to pay $20/month. Again, ideal for those who want to frequently upgrade. In fact, it’s probably one of the least expensive ways to do it.
2-Year Cost: $1,680 ($50/mo unlimited data and $20 for the phone)
Easy Pay: $27.09 for 23 payments; $26.92 for the 24th payment (Cost of phone is spread out over 24 months.) No interest charged.
2-Year Cost: $1,849.99
Easy Pay is roughly $170 more over two years than the iPhone for Life plan, but you own the phone at the end of that time period.
Note that Sprint also offers a 2-year service agreement plan. If you opt for it, however, you don’t get the $50/month plan. Instead, you get a different plan that costs around $100/month.
Plan: $60/month (2GB data)
Verizon Wireless’ typical 2GB plan would cost $90 a month. Unlimited Talk and Text is $40, and 2GB of data is $50. It turns out that at the moment, you can get the monthly cost for $60/month. I heard about this deal online, but couldn’t find anything about it on Verizon Wireless. So I drove to a store and they confirmed the deal. How long it will last is anybody’s guess.
2-Year Cost: $1,639 ($60 a month, 2GB of data, the phone is $199)
For a single line, this is the cheapest way I could find to get an iPhone. If you have more than one line, this deal is not available.
Phone: $650 ($27.09 for 24 months)
2-Year Cost: $2,210.16
Certainly, this is the most expensive.
Phone: $549.99 ($0 upfront; then $2292/mo. x 24 mos)
Plan: $44.92 per month
2-Year Cost: $1,628.07
You can find more details on this offer at T-Mobile’s official website.
Other resources and tools to help you find the best deal
WalletHub did a graphic that mapped out the cost of the phones and deals. They actually discounted the cost to present value using a 5% discount rate (no idea why they chose 5% given prevailing interest rates).
WhistleOut.com has a slick tool to help you compare iPhone costs for all phone types, number of lines, data, and carriers.
To wrap it all up, no matter how you buy it, which carrier you go to, whether you pay upfront or finance it, it doesn’t matter. Buying iPhone 6 costs a lot of money. It ain’t cheap.
Alternative options to iPhone 6
If all of these plans are too expensive for your tastes, consider Republic Wireless. They sell Android phones and although I am a big Apple user, I think Republic Wireless has got one of the best deals out there.
You can get the Moto X for $299 and then add monthly plans ranging from $5 to $40. In terms of cost, it crushes the iPhone.