Where to Buy an iPhone

iPhone XS and XR introduction
The iPhone XS and XR aren't as similar as they may seem.

Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News

The iPhone is among the biggest hit consumer electronics products ever and everyone wants one. The question is not whether to buy an iPhone, but where to buy an iPhone?

Sure, you can go directly to the source and buy an iPhone from Apple's online or retail stores, but you have lots of other choices about where to buy your iPhone.

Don't buy an iPhone until you know what the future has in store for upcoming models. Get all the latest rumors about upcoming iPhones here.

iPhone XS and XR introduction
 Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News

What's the Best Place to Buy an iPhone?

If you're planning to buy an iPhone, you wonder what the best place to buy an iPhone is. The answer is that there's not really a single store or website that's best. Every store or website that sells the iPhone sells the same models, for roughly the same price. So, you're really choosing based on convenience or small, limited-time promotions.

While there's no single rule about what makes one store better than another for buying an iPhone, some factors that might make a store the best place for you to buy an iPhone include:

  • Promotions: Because everyone sells the same iPhone for basically the same price, retailers sometimes offer bonus promotions to get you to choose them. You could snag a free case, gift card, or other incentive if you keep an eye out for deals.
  • Existing Relationship: Sometimes, the best place to buy an iPhone is the easiest — and that may be from your current phone company. Buying a new phone from your current company makes for a smooth transition.
  • Trade-In Value: Some retailers will offer a trade-in credit for your old phone to discount the price of the new one. The more trade-in cash you get, the better a deal may be.

Should I Wait for a Sale to Buy an iPhone?

Nope. That's because the iPhone almost never goes on sale. Apple tightly controls the prices of its products, and because the products are in such high demand, they don't need to have their price cut to sell. From time to time, there are small sales — often around the holidays — or a single retailer may temporarily discount a few models. You'll rarely save more than 10% off an iPhone's retail price, and often less than that, so there's not much reason to wait for a sale.

Need some guidance to figure out all the iPhone models and options? Check out How to Pick the Best iPhone for You.

Where to Buy an iPhone

All of that said, here are some of the major retail options for buying an iPhone.

Amazon

Of course the world's largest retailer can sell you the world's most popular phone. How could it not? All iPhones you buy from Amazon come unlocked, meaning you can use them with any phone company. Shop iPhone at Amazon.

The Apple Store

You can, of course, purchase an iPhone at any of Apple's nearly-500 retail stores across the globe. The Apple Store is equipped to sell you an iPhone and activate the phone service that is required to use the iPhone (you can do that at most other stores, too). Plus, you can get lots of great accessories.

Visit the list of Apple Stores to find the one closest to you or buy it online.

AT&T Stores

With over 2,200 AT&T stores in the U.S., AT&T stores are more widely spread than Apple stores. These stores sell iPhones that work on the AT&T network (big surprise, right?) and activate them on site.

Use AT&T's store finder to locate the closest AT&T to you or visit AT&T's online store.

Authorized Phone Company Resellers

While each major phone company has their own official stores, there are also lots of companies that resell phones and service for multiple carriers. These authorized resellers can be good locations to buy the iPhone. Not every authorized reseller location will have the iPhone, but don't ignore these businesses just because they're not carrier-owned.

Best Buy

In 2008, Best Buy became the first major retailer besides Apple and AT&T to be authorized to sell the iPhone. Though you won't find big discounts or sales here, Best Buy does occasionally run promotions that increase value and sells used iPhones at a discount. 

Craigslist/eBay

As with almost anything else you're looking to buy, Craigslist and eBay can generally help you out. Buyer beware, though. Make sure you know what you’re buying, are buying from a highly rated dealer (on eBay, at least. Craigslist doesn't offer ratings) and make smart purchases. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and make sure you're buying a new unit (unless you're looking for used), or you could end up out money and with a subpar phone.

Pre-Paid Carriers

The iPhone is also available through a number of pre-paid phone companies in the U.S., including Boost MobileCricket, Straight Talk, and Virgin. There are some trade-offs with pre-paid companies, but if you're willing to make them, you'll probably save some money on your monthly bill compared to the major phone companies. Learn more about pre-paid carriers, their pricing, and where to buy.

Regional Carriers

As with the pre-paid carriers, these smaller phone companies offer options that the major providers don't: in this case, service to rural and remote areas. Phone prices are roughly the same as the major carriers, though monthly plans differ. Check out this list of regional carriers who offer the iPhone to see if there's one in your area.

Sprint

Now that the U.S.'s third-largest mobile phone company is offering the iPhone, you'll be able to buy that phone in its retail stores, too. Find your closest Sprint location.

Target

Another major big-box retailer that's in on the iPhone business. You can buy an iPhone and service plan from AT&T or Verizon at its nearly 1,700 U.S. stores. Target only sells the iPhone in store, though, so while you can learn about it online, you'll have to head into a store to buy it. Find your closest Target.

T-Mobile

The last of the four major U.S. phone companies started carrying the iPhone in 2013. As a result, you can now buy all current iPhone models at T-Mobile's retail and online stores. Find your closest T-Mobile store.

Used/Refurbished Phone Resellers

Most of the websites that buy and sell used iPods also buy and sell used iPhones. Shop around on these sites for the lowest prices. And even though quality is generally very good here, remember that these phones will be used and sometimes without warranty. As always, you'll need to activate through Apple or a phone company.

Verizon

The U.S.'s biggest cell phone company began selling the iPhone at its retail stores on Feb. 10, 2011. Find your closest store.

Wal-Mart & Sam's Club

The world's largest retailer began selling the iPhone in 2009 and now offers the hardware along with the Straight Talk prepaid service. Occasionally, Wal-Mart offers discounts on iPhones that you won't see elsewhere. Find your local Wal-Mart here. Its sibling company, Sam's Club, also offers the iPhone.