Apple’s new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models come with all of the expected improvements: faster performance, longer battery life, a better screen, and new color options.
The biggest – and arguably only – surprise in this year’s lineup isn’t something inside a device: it’s the price.
Despite rumors that they would be priced higher than ever due to current chip supply chain issues, Apple (AAPL) kept its iPhone prices mostly in line with last year’s models. Massive discounts and trade-in offers from US carriers are available, with some even amounting to a free device. And, with or without any groundbreaking new features or design changes this year, Apple continues to offer iPhones at a variety of price points in order to appeal to a wider range of customers.
“Apple has become the king of the ‘good, better, best’ portfolio with a phone at every relevant price point, particularly given it typically keeps older models in its line-up for those that don’t want to pay four figures for the latest and greatest new devices,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst of market research firm CCS Insight. “Add trade-in into the mix and it makes it possible to get customers signed up for a more expensive phone than they likely planned to purchase.”
The discounts are staggering for those willing to trade in their old iPhones and commit to a wireless plan for the next few years.
After a trade-in, AT&T (T) is offering up to $1,000 toward a new iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, while Verizon (VZ) is offering up to $800 off any new iPhone, effectively covering the cost of a 128 GB iPhone 13. (AT&T owns WarnerMedia, the parent company of CNN.)
T-Mobile is offering eligible trade-ins the chance to receive a free iPhone 13 and claims that its Forever Upgrade program will save users up to $800 on their next iPhone every two years, “forever.”
Users who buy directly from Apple and choose T-Mobile as their carrier will receive a $700 credit toward a new iPhone. The deals keep coming.
Both mobile carriers and phone manufacturers continue to rely on trade-ins to drive replacement sales. But there’s a catch: users will have to trade in relatively new devices.
Customers who take advantage of trade-in offers are usually locked into a long contract that includes high-cost data plans. According to David McQueen, a director at market research firm ABI Research, carriers want to keep these users loyal rather than see them switch to a competitor network, and a discounted or free iPhone could be the right incentive to keep them there.