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, if you want to get your hands on one of the new iPhone 13 handsets that were announced at the Apple Event on 14 September 2021, the time is now! Or at least the time for pre-orders is 17 September - but you should get ready now, as we explain in how to pre-order an iPhone 13. We have everything you need to know about the Apple Event and which products were announced in a separate story.

What if it's not one of the new iPhone 13 models that you want? It's still potentially a good time to buy. Following the introduction of the new iPhone models Apple has dropped the price of the older models - so you can not get them for less than you could before the iPhone 13 series launched.

However, you should be aware that even better discounts on these older models could be just around the corner.

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 may be able to pick up a great deal on a new iPhone if you can wait a month or two.

What we don't expect to see is a discount on the new iPhone 13... Not yet anyway.

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?

The new iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max handsets were just announced during the Apple Event on 14 September 2021. They will be available to pre-order from Friday 17 September and will go on sale on Friday 24 September. 

You'll be able to pre-order it from Friday 17 September at 1pm in the UK. To find out how to pre-order it, check out our dedicated how to pre-order iPhone article, which has all the information you need.

Here's the iPhone 13 sales timeline:

  • iPhone 13 pre-orders: Friday 17 September
  • iPhone 13 on sale: Friday 24 September

It is unlikely that Apple will provide any more iPhone updates before September 2022, although there had been rumours that a new larger iPhone SE could one day launch. 

When is the best time to buy an iPhone?

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. So don't buy an iPhone in August, unless you want to be kicking yourself a month later. We write separately about why you shouldn't buy an iPhone right now.

The best time to buy an iPhone isn't necessarily when a new model launches either - 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 if you are hoping to save some money on your purchase we'd recommend waiting a few more months.

When do iPhone prices drop?

We know based on past experience that Apple is very unlikely to drop the price in the first year of sales.

However, Apple does tend to reduce the price of the previous year's iPhone when it introduces the new model. Hence Apple reduced the price of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini when the iPhone 13 was introduced, so if you are really after a bargain it might be wise to choose the older iPhone.

  • The iPhone 12 was from £799/$829, but it is now £679/$699 (64GB), £729/$749 (128GB) or £829/$849 (256GB)
  • The iPhone 12 mini was from £699/$729, but it is now £579/$599 (64GB), £629/$649 (128GB) or £729/$749 (256GB) 

You can also get a decent saving on an iPhone 11 if you would prefer.

  • The iPhone 11 was from £599/$599, but it is now £489/$499 (64GB), £539/$549 (128GB).

That's when Apple drops prices on the iPhones, but Apple's not the only place you can buy an iPhone. From time to time you will see deals from other resellers. We track these in our Best iPhone Deals round up, so check that page regularly!

Will there be Black Friday iPhone discounts?

The earliest you could expect to get a discount on the new iPhone is around Black Friday at the end of November, so you might be planning to hold out until then. However, in 2020 we didn't see any iPhone 12 deals over Black Friday.

Nor should you expect to get a discount from Apple on Black Friday. Apple's Black Friday sale usually only takes the form of vouchers with select product purchases, rather than a discount, and it is unlikely that the newest iPhone would qualify as previous year's new iPhones haven't been included.

You may be able to find a Black Friday deal somewhere else though, although these deals are again likely to be for the older iPhone models. Interestingly though shopping events like Black Friday gets all the attention, that's not the only time you can get discounts on Apple products: we see discounts all the time. We recommend you read out Best iPhone deals round up if you want to get money off an iPhone.

In 2021 it wasn't really until the spring that we started to see decent deals on the iPhone 12 - and of course these were always from third-party resellers, never from Apple. For example, we saw £100 off at Amazon in April. In June there was £150 off iPhone 12 & 12 mini from Amazon, John Lewis and AO. And in July 2021 we saw Amazon knock £146 off the price of the iPhone 12.

Our advice is don't expect every sale to include the newest iPhones, we find that more often the deals are on the older handsets.

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?

As we said above, Apple has just cut the prices of various older iPhone models. You can now get the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 12 and 12 mini for less than you could previously. You can buy these iPhones direct from Apple, but the best deals to be had usually aren't from Apple though: we round up the best iPhone deals here.

Because Apple tends to cut prices of older iPhone models when it introduces a new generation we would suggest that you don't buy an older handset just before the new ones are expected. If you make your purchase in August you will likely be kicking yourself after the price drops a month later.

On the other hand, there is a risk in waiting. If you had wanted to buy an iPhone 12 Pro from Apple and thought you'd wait until after the iPhone 13 launch to take advantage of the lower price you would have been disappointed - Apple has discontinued the Pro and Pro Max models.

If that's you then fear not: it is likely you will still be able to buy that handset from a third party reseller, it just might not see as big a price drop as it would have.

You may still be able to purchase even older iPhones, such as the iPhone XR or the iPhone X, from a third-party reseller, but we suggest that the deal would have to be exceptional to be worth your money. If you're wondering which of these models is best for you, read our iPhone buying guide.

How much do prices drop when the new iPhone comes out?

With the launch of new iPhones, we tend to see price drops for older models.

When Apple introduced the iPhone 13 series it dropped the starting price of the previous generation iPhone 12 from £799/$829 to £679/$699 (64GB). That's £120/$130 off.

Similarly the iPhone 12 mini price fell from £699/$729 to £579/$599. That's £100/$130 off.

And the iPhone 11, which at launch costs £729/$699 reduced from £599/$599 to £489/$499. That's £110/$100 off.

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. 

How often does Apple update the iPhone?

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 was a bit different: we had the iPhone SE launch in April and the iPhone 12 launch was delayed until October.

The newest bunch of iPhones launched in September 2021.

The rule of thumb is to avoid the months of July and August and early September if you wish to buy a new handset. After a launch event the prices of the previous-generation iPhones are likely to drop, with even Apple reducing the price of last year's handset.

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 (click on the link to see the best deals for those phones).

Conclusion: Is now a good 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 price of the older handsets are likely to drop very soon.

If you want the newest iPhones then the best deals don't tend to come before the spring and summer months. If you are happy to buy an older iPhone then you will probably see decent deals around Black Friday - but deals happen all year round. 

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.

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