These deals are largely dependent on which cell phone provider you choose. So you’ll also want to look at other cell-carrier related factors, as well as which overall plan will work best for your needs.
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Six Factors to Consider When Choosing an iPhone 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, while others offer better deals with four or more lines.
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.
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 $650 per line.
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 Forever, where you a monthly fee for renting the iPhone. As each new model is released, you can turn in the old phone and lease a new one.
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. Be sure to check to see if your employer reimburses part of the costs or offers other discounts on specific carriers.
Pricing for the iPhone 8 (one line), Unlimited Data
The current deals for the iPhone 8 really aren’t all that great. Many carriers aren’t offering anything more than a trade-in deal for your older iPhone. The best deal of the lot is from AT&T, which is offering a buy one, get one plan for the 64GB iPhone 8. But even that deal comes with some serious caveats.
Since we’re looking at total costs, we also want to look at plan costs. Most carriers are moving towards unlimited data plans. And, in fact, some only offer unlimited data or prepaid plans. So that’s what we’ll vet here.
1. AT&T–Buy One, Get One Free
Plan: $50/month minimum first line; 2nd line $20/month minimum
Phone: 64GB iPhone 8
It’s true. You can buy one 64GB iPhone 8 and get one for free. But you have to buy both phones on the AT&T Next plan. You have to pay a $25 activation fee per phone, and the cost for the second phone, up to $700 total, will be deducted from your bills over 30 months. If you cancel your service, you’ll have to pay the full balance left for both phones.
You can also choose to put the credit towards other iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus models priced up to $950. But then you have to pay the difference.
If you’re already an AT&T customer, you may be out of luck for this deal. You have to activate a new line to qualify.
Cost: If you choose the Unlimited Plus data plan, you’ll pay $115 for two lines. That comes out to about $145 per month for both phones and lines. So $3,480 over two years, or about $1,740 for each phone and unlimited data plan.
2. Sprint–iPhone Forever
The Sprint iPhone Forever is a good deal if you’re an Apple lover and want to always have the latest phone. The basic 18-month lease program costs $29.17 per month, but you can knock that down to $9.72 per month when you trade in an eligible late model phone. You can upgrade to the next model after 12 months or pay the balance and purchase the phone after the 18 months are up.
Sprint’s Unlimited Plus Hulu data plan costs $65 per month. So that’s a total of $104 per month without a trade-in, or $74 per month with one.
Cost: With the unlimited and the iPhone Forever Flex deal, you could pay either $2,496 over two years or $1,776 over two years, if you can trade in an eligible phone. However, with the iPhone Forever deal, you can upgrade to a newer phone after 12 months without incurring additional unexpected costs.
3. T-Mobile–Trade-In Credit
T-Mobile is offering a $300 trade-in credit when customers upgrade to the iPhone 8 or iPhone X. This only applies when you sign up for an Equipment Installment Plan, which splits the phone cost over the course of 24 months. The $300 credit also spreads over that two-year period, for a whopping $12.50 discount each month. Essentially, you’d pay $400 over 24 months for the basic iPhone 8.
On the T-Mobile ONE plan, you’ll pay $70 for a single line with unlimited data.
Cost: With the unlimited data plan and a basic iPhone 8, you’d pay about $87 per month, for a total of $2,088 over two years.
4. Verizon– Trade-In Credit
Verizon’s deal is similar to that of T-Mobile. When you trade in an eligible device, you can get up to a $300 credit towards your new iPhone 8. Verizon’s new Go Unlimited plan costs $75 per month for one line.
Cost: The monthly phone costs here are similar to those with T-Mobile, about $17 per month, if you have an eligible trade-in. So that makes for a $92 per month total payment, or $2,208 over two years.
What About the iPhone X?
The deals actually look very similar for the much-more-expensive iPhone X. For instance, Verizon is offering its $300 trade-in credit on the iPhone X, too. And Spring is also offering a credit for trade-ins on an 18-month lease. These can make the phone less expensive, but it’s still going to cost you more than the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.
What Are Alternative Options?
Of course, the cheapest option here is to choose a cheaper phone–one you can pay cash for–and move to a prepaid cell phone plan. Providers like Net10 can save you a huge amount of money on your monthly cell phone service. And you can find decent smartphones these days for $200 or $300, less than half the cost of the latest iPhones.
If you’re a tech geek who loves all things Apple, choosing one of the deals above might make sense for you. But if you’re on a tight budget or just don’t see the point in spending so much on a cell phone, consider an alternative provider or at least a cheaper phone with one of the big four providers.