Those who are in the market for a new handset are probably wondering whether now is a good time to buy a new iPhone. Are prices likely to go up or down? And is there any danger that a new model will be released in the near future?
The short answer is that right now is a bad time to buy an iPhone: new iPhone 12 handsets will be announced on 13 October 2020, and at that point you'll have the option to either get the new (and upgraded) phones, or to buy the older models for less (since they are likely to see a price cut).
We are also approaching the time of year when we see the best discounts. Between Black Friday and Christmas many resellers will cut their prices, so you will be able to pick up a great deal on a new iPhone if you can wait a month or two.
You may also be wondering whether when a new iPhone comes out the prices will drop on the other iPhones - and the answer to that question is that they will (usually).
In this article, we answer all of your questions about when you should and shouldn't buy a new iPhone - including advice on when Apple is likely to discount the price of older iPhone handsets.
When will Apple update the iPhone?
With almost a year gone since the 11-series launched and the 12-series is nearly upon us.
Apple is expected to unveil a series of iPhone 12 models and even an iPhone 12 mini on 13 October, although these models are likely to ship at different times, with two of the new models not expected to be available until November.
How long is it since the last iPhone launched?
Prior to these new announcements the last iPhone to be launched was the iPhone SE (2020), which came out in March 2020. Previous to that Apple unveiled three phones in September 2019: the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Max Pro.
The late-2019 iPhones are available to buy direct from Apple. Prices started at £729/$699 for the iPhone 11, £1,049/US$999 for the iPhone 11 Pro and £1,149/US$1,099 for the 11 Pro Max. The iPhone SE can be bought from Apple starting at £419/$399. If you're wondering which of these models is best for you, read our iPhone buying guide.
How frequent are iPhone updates?
Knowing when the latest iPhones came out should help when making a judgement on whether there will be an update soon.
Apple's usual practice is to hold a single launch event per year, in September, but 2020 is a bit different: we had the iPhone SE launch in April and the iPhone 12 launch has been delayed until October.
However, once the iPhone 12 series is out we don't expect any more new iPhones until September 2021.
When is the best time to buy an iPhone?
The best time to buy an iPhone isn't necessarily when a new model launches - unless you're desperate to have the very latest hardware. You might be happy to wait a month or two after the launch and wait for supply to catch up with demand, and for any problems with the new phones to be identified and (hopefully) fixed.
We'd say that it's fine to buy a new iPhone at any time within nine months of it launching. But by the time we get round to June/July, we start advising people to wait. It makes sense at this point to put off your purchase until the autumn, if at all possible - in other words, unless your current iPhone is broken and you absolutely have to replace it.
It's easier to say when the worst time to buy a new iPhone is. That is without a doubt in the months leading up to September (or, in 2020, October). So don't buy an iPhone in August, unless you want to be kicking yourself a month later.
Since new iPhones are expected soon you should definitely avoid buying an iPhone if you can possibly wait.
Wait until Black Friday
In fact, we'd suggest waiting a little longer. We tend to see the best iPhone deals following Black Friday at the end of November and in the weeks running up to Christmas, so we would suggest buying a new handset around then.
Apple itself won't give discounts, but will offer an additional gift card. Other retailers will offer discounts on iPhones and iPhone contracts.
See our round up of the best iPhone deals here.
We also write about why you shouldn't buy an iPhone right now.
What if I want to buy an older iPhone?
Just want an iPhone and aren't too bothered about it being the latest model? So why not buy now?
Again, you may wish to avoid the months of July and August and September. After a launch event the prices of the previous-generation iPhones are likely to drop. And if you're really not bothered about specs, you might be able to pick up an even older iPhone that Apple has discontinued, as mobile phone companies discount those models to clear stock.
For example, when the iPhone XS was discontinued by Apple the price dropped across the various stockists. We expect to see a similar thing happen if Apple discontinues the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 (click on those links to see the best deals for those phones).
We also look at whether you should buy an iPhone 7 or 8 here.
How much will prices drop when a new iPhone comes out?
With the launch of new iPhones, we tend to see price drops for older models. For example the iPhone XR, which was £749 - £899 at launch, later had its price dropped to £629/$599. So we could see a similar price drop of over £100/$100 for the iPhone 11-series after the iPhone 12-series launches. Then again, we may see Apple discontinue those iPhones.
We also anticipate that the iPhone XR could be discontinued when the iPhone 12 launches.
The problem with discontinued models is that in some cases the price of any models that are still available from stockists may not be so favourably priced as demand will potentially increase as stocks start to run out.
Conclusion: Is now a good time to buy a new iPhone?
If it's not November, December or January we'd suggest it isn't the best time to buy a new iPhone.
The worst time to buy would be July or August, mainly because with new iPhones on the horizon the best deals are likely to be just around the corner.
We hope this article has proved helpful in reaching an informed buying decision. Remember that good prices can be found all year round, if a retailer is feeling generous and you know where to look: read our guide to the best iPhone deals for more on that.
Finally, for similar advice that applies to your tablet purchases, see When is the best time to buy an iPad?
Wondering how long Apple supports iPhones for? Read How long do iPhones last.