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How to Find the Cheapest iPhone

How to Find the Cheapest iPhone - Featured Image

published by Chad Evans
December 7, 2022 at 5:34 p.m. PST
  • The iPhone was once very expensive; however, Apple’s pricing is more competitive today.
  • Unlocked iPhones are typically the most costly because carriers don’t subsidize their prices.
  • You can often find a “free” iPhone by signing up with a cellular provider, but this usually involves a contract.
  • Used iPhones can be a significant bargain as long as quality is assured.
  • The cheapest iPhone costs only $18.

Why Look for the Cheapest iPhone?

When most people buy an iPhone, they either use a web browser, head to the Apple Store, or visit a carrier’s brick-and-mortar shop. At this point, they’re at the mercy of servers or salespeople and usually don’t end up with a good deal.

There aren’t many bargains if you’re looking for a brand-new, unlocked iPhone. Apple sells iPhones on thin margins, so don’t expect big discounts from online retailers or big box stores. Costco seems to have the best deals, bundling AppleCare+ with their unlocked iPhones. While these cost less than buying an iPhone with AppleCare+ from Apple, not everyone wants an extended warranty, and the savings are minimal.

You can get an excellent deal on a brand-new iPhone if you’re already signed up with a cellular provider or don’t mind contracts. People in this situation should never buy an iPhone from Apple because there’s usually no discount. If there is, it’s only $50 or so, usually for the first few months after the newest, most expensive model debuts. Those planning to sign up with an established carrier should look for the cheapest iPhone they can find, usually on your cellular provider’s website. Costco also provides locked iPhones through the Wireless Advocates website.

Used devices are an option if you lack funds or simply don’t want to spend $1000 on an iPhone. It’s much safer to purchase a used iPhone today because Apple forces repair shops to use genuine parts. iOS will literally show warnings if any technicians implant a counterfeit component in your iPhone. Before this initiative, unscrupulous repair shops would use cheap parts prone to malfunction and failure. It was possible to buy a used iPhone with the logic board being its only original part.

It’s a good idea to find the cheapest iPhone if you’re willing to go with a cellular provider or don’t mind buying a used phone. Costco is an excellent option if you’re looking for a less expensive iPhone and AppleCare+ bundle. Now let’s look at some of the lowest prices on popular iPhone models.

Costco iPhone and AppleCare+ Bundle

Although this option is far from cheap, it’s less expensive than buying an iPhone 14 Pro Max and AppleCare+ directly from Apple. If you have a Costco membership, an iPhone 14 Pro Max (128GB) and AppleCare+ cost $1269.99. This same bundle is $1298.00 at the Apple Store.

While it’s not a huge difference, you can save an additional 3% if you’re an Executive Member. Also, Costco offers a much better return policy, giving you 90 days to return your iPhone if unsatisfied. Apple only gives you 14 days!

Free iPhones from AT&T or Verizon

You can save a lot on an iPhone if you don’t mind contracts. It makes a lot of sense. You need to get cellular service anyway. Why not get a free iPhone too?

The good news is that both AT&T and Verizon offer free iPhones. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get the iPhone 14 Pro Max for free. At best, you can get a zero-down payment deal, but you’ll pay full price for the smartphone in installments. You can get an unlocked phone from Apple for the same price with a two-year payment plan.

If you don’t mind a lesser iPhone, you can get one for free. AT&T offers the iPhone 14 at no cost if you have an eligible trade-in. The good news is that they value your iPhone much more than Apple. You can trade a 64GB iPhone 11 for a brand-new iPhone 14. That’s a killer deal.

The contract comes in the form of $0 payments for the phone you make over two years. The phone is free, but AT&T will bill you for the service. Despite this obligation, you’re getting a free iPhone 14. You need to get service somewhere, so why not get a free iPhone while you’re at it?

Verizon offers two free iPhones without trading in a device. They’re giving away a 3rd Gen iPhone SE or an iPhone 13 Mini, with a 36-month commitment. If you like Verizon, this is a great deal.

Cheap Used iPhone

If you’re looking for a used iPhone, you must proceed cautiously. You want a refreshed or refurbished iPhone, not something you buy online from some anonymous jerk. The best pre-owned retailers typically offer a return policy if you buy a used iPhone in worse-than-expected condition.

Apple sells refurbished iPhones, but the cheapest one is $649, and it’s an iPhone 11 Pro Max. That’s a lot of money to spend on an old, used iPhone. We can do better.

The cheapest used iPhone on is only $93, but it’s an iPhone 6S. That’s ancient. If we’re talking about something modern enough to do FaceID, you can find an iPhone X for around $200 on Just beware that some of them are in poor shape. They’re graded based on quality. Go for the cheapest refurbished model because it will have a new battery and other components, as needed.

Back Market offers reasonable prices on used iPhones, allowing customers to select them based on condition. An iPhone X in excellent condition goes for $229. These prices are constantly in flux, so you may find even better deals.

Absolute Cheapest iPhone You Can Buy

For amusement, I searched for the absolute cheapest unlocked iPhone I could find, without concern for model or condition. For only $18, you can purchase an iPhone 6S that works. Unfortunately, it’s “iCloud locked,” meaning it will be a chore to use it for anything.

It’s not the worst deal. It can serve as a paperweight. People are selling iPhone boxes for more.

You Get What You Pay For

The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. There are good deals and ripoffs. Apple’s refurbished iPhones are some of the worst deals I’ve seen. If you don’t mind signing on with a carrier, you get a decent (but not top-of-the-line) iPhone for free.

There are other ways to save on iPhone costs. I buy a new, unlocked iPhone from Apple every year, then trade in my last one. It takes the sting out of a new iPhone, and I get Apple’s best and latest smartphone. Since I write for an Apple-centric site, it’s a necessity.

Others may do well with an iPhone 14, iPhone SE, or even a gently used iPhone X. But I don’t think anyone would be happy with an $18 iPhone 6S that can’t connect to Apple services. At best, it can serve as a prop if someone decides to make a movie set in 2015.


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