Things to Know About the True Cost of an iPhone

Choosing an iPhone and the Right Plan for You

Person holding an iPhone 7
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Learning how much an iPhone costs isn't as simple as looking up the listed price for Apple's latest iPhone. That's because the cost of buying an iPhone depends on several factors, including your contract status and whether you're upgrading.

You also need to account for the cost of the monthly service, which varies based on your plan. So, figuring out how much an iPhone costs requires some math.

Costs of the Latest iPhones

If you want to buy the iPhone without being tied to the two-year contract, which allows you to pay for your service month to month and switch to other compatible carriers whenever you want, the phone can be yours for anywhere from $699 to $1,149, depending on the model you want.

For example, Apple sells one iPhone X model and two iPhone 8 models. All three come two versions — 64GB and 256GB.

In mid-2018, the price breakdown from Apple looks like this:

  • iPhone X: $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB)
  • iPhone 8 Plus: $799 (64GB), $949 (256GB)
  • iPhone 8: $699 (64GB), $849 (256GB)

Tip: Apple still sells the iPhone 7, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE at lower prices if you are looking for a better deal.

Most carriers offer a monthly payment plan when you purchase a new iPhone from them, but you must stay with the carrier until the iPhone is paid for or else pay the balance due before you change to another carrier.

No Resurgence in Carrier Subsidies

In recent years, the major cellular carriers have done away with subsidies that allow customers who sign a two-year contract to pay significantly less for their iPhones.

However, with the rollout of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, some major carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, offer reductions in the cost for the latest iPhone if you trade in your older model iPhone.

Regional and Prepaid Carriers

You can pay a little less than the sticker price for the iPhone — about $50 in most cases — if you buy it through one of the smaller, regional carriers that offer the phone in some parts of the U.S.

Prepaid carriers, on the other hand, don't require a contract and charge less per month for their service, but charge closer to the iPhone's full price.

Monthly Plans

After you purchase your phone, you should factor in the cost of phone and data and internet service provided by the carrier you use.

IPhone plans typically include monthly costs for data service, calling, texting, and other services. Expect to spend around $100 a month with major carriers for the services that most people use.

With prepaid carriers, plans are much cheaper, generally running closer to half the price offered by the major carriers, although data connections are often slower or have their fastest speeds limited based on how much you use. With those companies, expect to spend closer to the $50 to $60 range for calling, texting, and data.

Other Costs

You don't want to spend hundreds on a new iPhone and then toss it in your purse or pants pocket without a protective cover. Plan to put a cover on the iPhone as soon as you get it. Many protective cases are in the $40-$100 range.

The iPhone comes with Apple's one-year warranty, but you may want to extend that protection through a policy offered by your carrier or with AppleCare available directly from Apple. The carriers' prices vary depending on your model and carrier. Check with them for prices. AppleCare for the iPhone X runs $199. AppleCare for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is $149 and $129 respectively for two additional years of coverage.