It’s been a long time since you could just get an iPhone directly from Apple or from AT&T. Today, it is offered by all major operators and major retailers, and many of them will entice you to buy with them by offering special offers. Of course, you can always buy from Apple directly, either in-store or online.
If you have not yet placed your order for an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, here is a summary of some of the offers and promotions offered by various retailers to help you decide. For each we will tell you about current special offers, when you should consider buying there and when you should not.
Buying directly from Apple is one of the few ways to buy an unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 1
This year, Apple is partnering with AT&T and Verizon to offer discounts on the iPhone 12 mini (not available until November) and the iPhone 12. Instead of paying $ 729 / $ 829, you get a $ 30 discount if you buy a phone activated on AT&T or Verizon.
Both AT&T and Verizon have discounted swap plans that you can buy through Apple (you swap the phone directly to the carrier, not Apple). With AT&T, you can get iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini for $ 0 a month for 30 months if you buy at least one iPhone 8 in good condition.
At Verizon, you pay $ 11.95 a month for the iPhone 12 mini or $ 14.95 a month for the iPhone 12 over 24 months by swapping an iPhone X or later.
For the iPhone 12 Pro, AT & T’s swap agreement will cost you $ 6.64 per month for 30 months, while Verizon will be $ 23.29 for 24 months, again with the same swap requirement. For the iPhone 12 Pro Max (available in November), these prices go up to $ 13.30 and $ 27.45, respectively.
Note that these offers require you to be on a monthly payment plan with AT&T or Verizon and subscribe to a qualified, unlimited data plan. You get the cost of the phone reduced in monthly bill credits.
Read more about these requirements here.
Why you should buy here
This is the first time in a long time you can get a carrier change offer when you buy directly from Apple. This may have something to do with marketing operators who want to push the iPhone 12 to get customers on their 5G networks, and it may have something to do with COVID-19 precautions that make retail shopping less common.
As usual, these operator offers come with many reservations and locks, but they can definitely get you into an iPhone 12 with no or no upfront cost.
To purchase your phone with the iPhone Upgrade application, you must do so in the Apple Store or the Apple Store iOS app.
When you buy directly from Apple with an Apple card, you get 3 percent cash back. In addition, Apple now lets you pay for a new iPhone with your Apple card in 24 monthly installments, without rent.
If you always want the latest iPhone every year, the iPhone upgrade program is a pretty good deal. You pay off the iPhone in 24 monthly installments, but can exchange it for a new iPhone after 12 months (and thus renew the 24-month contract). You also get Apple Care + included.
It is also one of the few places you can get iPhone 12 or 12 Pro SIM free and unlocked.
Why not buy here
If you are planning to change carrier or open a new line, it may be better to buy directly from the operator – many operators offer good incentives to change. From time to time, carriers may offer deals (“buy one get one free” or other discounts), although they usually require some kind of long-term commitment. The best operator offers tend to be for new line activations and transmissions.
Apple offers replacement value for your old iPhone, but it is often not as much as an operator (subject to operators wanting to lock you into a long-term payment plan).
The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro do not appear to be available from Amazon at the time of writing.
Why you should buy here
Amazon rarely offers the latest iPhone models, but it can be a good place to score a deal on an older certified refurbished model.
Why not buy here
You almost never buy directly from Amazon, but rather through a retailer. And most iPhones you find on Amazon are certified refurbished, which is not bad, but it is not the place to go if you are looking for a brand new model.
AT&T offers an iPhone 12 for free, where “free” means up to $ 800 in bill credits when you buy an old phone and finance the new one over 30 months. You can get a more expensive iPhone 12 (a Pro or more storage space) and reduce costs by $ 800 this way too.
It’s of course gotchas. You must:
- Purchase a qualified smartphone on a qualifying installment agreement, including full retail price (front) and $ 30 activation / upgrade fee.
- Add a new service line or upgrade an existing line.
- Enable postpaid unlimited wireless service (minimum $ 75 per month for new unlimited customers before discounts).
- Replace a qualified smartphone in good condition with a trade-in value of $ 95 for $ 800 credit ($ 35 for $ 350 credit) within 30 days of activation.
If you meet all these conditions, you get an iPhone 12 “for free” because they give you enough credit to cover the monthly installments for it. If you want more storage space or an iPhone 12 Pro, you get up to $ 800 in credit.