Although Apple’s current lineup is among the most competitively priced in its history, you can still do better.

Apple/Screenshot by Rebecca Fleenor/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

As is customary for September, new Apple iPhone hardware has arrived. Also customary: premium pricing. The top-end 512GB iPhone 11 Pro Max, for example, costs a staggering $1,449, same as last year’s flagship iPhone XS Max did. This comes as no surprise; you’re always going to pay a premium for Apple gear. If you’re willing to forgo the latest and greatest in favor of previous-generation models, however, you can score a deal — quite possibly a really good deal. Let’s take a look at the options.

Read more: The best thing about the iPhone 11 is its $699 price tag

Apple’s iPhone price cuts and refurbs

As always, the arrival of new iPhones means price cuts on earlier models. This year, Apple elected to keep two in the lineup: the iPhone 8 and iPhone XR. Those now start at $449 and $599, respectively. The iPhone 8 debuted just two years ago with a starting price of $699, while the XR arrived last year at $749.

These are two seriously tempting deals, arguably the best iPhone values in Apple history. Although the iPhone 8 was never really a flagship (it arrived alongside the iPhone X, which is also something to consider — see below), its 4.7-inch screen makes it the most pocket-friendly iPhone in the lineup.

Read more: CNET’s iPhone 8 review


Apple’s refurbished-iPhone store has only a couple options right now, including the iPhone X at $220 below the original price.

Apple/Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The 6.1-inch iPhone XR, meanwhile, brings perks like Face ID, better battery life and a portrait-capable camera to the table. Before the iPhone 11 announcement, it was widely regarded as an excellent “value” iPhone. The $150 price cut just makes it that much more compelling. 

Read more: CNET’s iPhone XR review

It’s always a good idea to check out Apple’s Refurbished iPhone store, too. At this writing, only two models are listed: The iPhone 8 Plus (256GB) for $599 and the iPhone X (64GB) for $679. Much as I’m a fan of Apple’s refurbs, which are literally good as new (new battery, new case, full warranty and so on), I think the XR beats them both.

Apple’s refurbished iPhone inventory changes over time. Thankfully, there’s a free service called RefurbMe, which tracks Apple refurbs and can notify you when an item becomes available.

Third-party iPhone options

Want to score even bigger savings? Keep in mind what’s about to happen: As people start buying new iPhones, they’re going to start selling their old ones — and that will result in a glut of used models, which in turn will result in lower prices. Therefore, in the weeks to come, start trolling buy/sell marketplaces like these:

According to Decluttr’s Manisha Metta, “It’s best to wait a month after the new iPhones are announced to get the best price on last year’s devices. A month after is when prices stabilize and the trade-ins come through.”

You can also see what’s available locally on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, or check auction listings on eBay. These are riskier propositions, as you don’t get any kind of guarantee when buying directly from the previous owner. Most of the aforementioned sites offer at least some kind of protection for the buyer: verified inspections, a return window, an in-house warranty and so on.

Take note, however, that when you buy a used iPhone (or a refurb from a source other than Apple), you’re taking a bigger gamble. The battery won’t be brand-new, meaning it won’t give you maximum runtime, and you may end up with a shorter or more limited warranty.

Read more: The best ways to sell or trade in your used iPhone

Long live the iPhone 7?

Let’s not overlook another former flagship: the iPhone 7. It features Touch ID, a 12-megapixel camera and a water-resistant case, among other things. It will also run iOS 13, which Apple plans to release at the end of September.

Refurbished-phone seller Back Market is among the many outlets offering compelling iPhone 7 deals — compelling in part due to the prices and in part thanks to the one-year warranty, the latter a rarity in the used-phone trade. At this writing, for example, you could get an unlocked iPhone 7 (32GB) in “silver” condition for under $200. Three years ago, in September 2016, it was $649.


A 2016 flagship iPhone (in this case the iPhone 7) is a 2019 steal.

Back Market/Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Budget-minded phone buyers tend to balk at Apple’s premium prices, and with good reason: There are much cheaper alternatives on the Android side. But pretty much every iPhone is — or was — a premium phone, and a model that’s 1-3 years old still has plenty to offer. Indeed, when you can get a $650 model for $200, it’s time to party like it’s 2016.

What do you think? Are these prices low enough for your liking? What are your upgrade plans? Let’s talk turkey in the comments!

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Originally published a year ago, this has been updated with new information.

CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!



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