The iPhone X is neat, although not much more than that with only a few technical differences between it and the iPhone 8. But minor differences are a big deal to Apple fans, and preorders for the X are coming this Friday and it promises to be a mad rush (so feel free to get pre-approved before then). So, of course, carriers are all trying to entice you to get on their network with discounts. So who has the best one? And what are the catches?
- If you don’t have a recent iPhone or high-end Android, you’re out of luck. All of these deals hinge on having a phone from the last couple of years to trade in, and you won’t get the full discount with some phones.
- Expect to be locked in for at least a year and a half. The phone is the carrot to get you to sign up for a service plan from these carriers, and they’re not going to let you go when the iPhone X 2 comes out in 2018. With that in mind, what are the discounts?
- Sprint: Sprint’s deal is likely best if you know you’re trading up within a year, and want to stick with Sprint’s network. Sign up for Sprint Flex or its aptly named iPhone Forever program and you’ll save $350 off the iPhone’s price. You’ll also be able to upgrade after twelve lease payments. But if you want to switch networks, or don’t want to be perpetually renting phones, this isn’t the plan for you.
- Verizon: Verizon is just selling you the phone, with a discount of up to $300 depending on your trade-in. But there are several catches. First, you can only trade in Apple devices for the discount. Second, you’ll need to either switch to Verizon to their Go Unlimited or Beyond Unlimited plans, or already be a member of them, and those plans have problems of their own. If that weren’t enough, the discount isn’t up front. It’s applied over two years, and if you switch, you not only lose your discount, you have to pay off the full lease balance. That’s a lot of catches for a discount.
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile‘s deal sort of splits the difference, as what you get depends on your trade-in. You still need to sign up for the installment program, but the more valuable your trade-in, the more of the $300 discount you get up front. If you show up with an iPhone 7, for example, they just cut $300 off the price and you start paying the installments. An iPhone SE would get you $100 off and $200 spread across the rest of the installments. Of all the deals, it’s probably the best if you just want the phone with a relative minimum of hassle.
If you’re getting the sense that acquiring an iPhone X at launch is going to be a hassle, you’re right. If you’re just looking to upgrade to a current iPhone, the iPhone 8 is likely a better deal. Or, hey, wait a year, and the iPhone X 2 will knock a few hundred bucks off the price.