The Best and Worst Times to Buy a New iPhone

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

It's best not to buy an iPhone right before the new model comes out. Viva Tung/Celso Bulgatti/Getty Images

Like most tech products, new iPhones arrive on a seasonal basis. Keeping this in mind could help you save some cash, or prevent you from experiencing a serious case of buyer's remorse at the very least.

Generally speaking, buying a new iPhone right before the next model launches is a bad idea. Even if you don't care about having the latest and greatest technology, there are good reasons to wait. Historically, Apple has introduced new iPhones in mid-September, with availability beginning the week following the company's launch event.

Here's a closer look at Apple's typical product release timeline, what to expect from the iPhone 16 and more.

The best time to buy a new iPhone

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The iPhone's pricing doesn't change much throughout the year. James Martin/CNET

There really isn't a "best" time to buy a new iPhone. Apple doesn't change its pricing structure very often, and carriers and retailers usually offer similar trade-in discounts throughout the year.

However, the fall is usually a smart time to shop for an iPhone. Waiting until the new version arrives allows you to make an informed decision about whether it's worth upgrading or hanging onto your current phone for another year. If you are making the switch to the latest iPhone, you may want to consider waiting until it's been on the market for a couple of weeks or months if possible.

Doing so could make it easier to get the color and storage capacity you want, since demand is usually high immediately following the iPhone's launch. Waiting also ensures that you're aware of any potential bugs or issues before upgrading, such as the iOS17 overheating issue that first impacted some iPhone 15 Pro units last year.

The worst time to buy a new iPhone

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The iPhone 15 on display at Apple's iPhone launch event in 2023. Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

While there may not be a best time to buy a new iPhone, there certainly is a worst time: late July through early September. In other words, don't buy an iPhone right before Apple launches a new one.

New iPhones usually include camera upgrades, a new processor (especially on the Pro models) and other new features, such as the Dynamic Island, which debuted on the Pro in 2022 but made its way to the regular iPhone 15 in 2023. Buying the current model right before Apple launches a new one means you're missing out on these improvements for essentially the same price you'd pay for the next-generation iPhone.

You may not care about having the newest iPhone. Maybe your current phone is four years old, and you just want to upgrade to something that feels faster with longer battery life. Either way, you should wait. Apple usually discounts models from previous years when launching new iPhones, as it did in 2023 with the iPhone 14, which it now lists for $699. The two-generation-old iPhone 13 now sells for $599 through Apple, which is $200 cheaper than its $799 starting price when it arrived in 2021.

It's also worth noting that Apple allows returns for 14 calendar days from the date you received the product. If Apple changes the price of a product, you also can also request to be credited back the difference in price as long as you do so within 14 days of the alteration. But Apple's policy notes that you'll have to have received that product within 14 calendar days of the price change.

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are defined by their refinements. This pair of phones is one of the most compelling camera upgrades from Apple in years.The 15 Pro has a tried and true 3x telephoto camera like previous models. But the 15 Pro Max has a new 5x telephoto camera that's made with multiple prisms and some clever engineering.This was taken with the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 5x zoom camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

One nifty addition to both phones is the ability to change the focus after you take a portrait photo. Check out this '90s grunge band photo of me and my pal Beacham. I can change the focus from me to him after I take the picture. This is going to be a killer feature for parents.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

This was taken with the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 5x zoom camera which also has a 3D sensor-shift optical image stabilization system that helps with shaky hands.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

A night mode snap from the iPhone 15 Pro at 2x.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The main camera's sensor on both phones is larger helping it capture brighter photos in low light with less image noise, like this one of a Boring Clam.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Just CNET's Celso Bulgatti filming footage for our iPhone review. I took this with the 15 Pro's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Lens flares and haloes are improved but still show up in some photos.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

This was taken with the iPhone 15 Pro's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

A 5x zoom photo from the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Another 5x zoom photo from the 15 Pro Max of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Chocolate croissants captured with the iPhone 15 Pro's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Here's New York's Katz's Deli taken with the iPhone 15 Pro at 1x.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

And here it is at 2x.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

A lazy cat caught in the act of being lazy with the iPhone 15 Pro Max at 5x.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I used 2x on the 15 Pro's main camera to take this photo.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

An iPhone 15 Pro Max photo at 5x at taken at sunset.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Here's a photo from the 15 Pro's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I snagged this shot of the Statue of Liberty with the 15 Pro Max at 7x digital zoom.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Another 5x zoom from the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

A 1x photo of a comfy cat from the 15 Pro Max's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

An ultra wide photo from the the 15 Pro.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

A night mode snap from the 15 Pro.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Another night mode photo from the 15 Pro.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The 15 Pro's main camera expertly grabbed this photo of a penguin.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Here's another 15 Pro main camera image, this time of CNET's Mariel Meyers.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Sneaker snap courtesy of the iPhone 15 Pro's main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with 8x digital zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Here's a photo from the 15 Pro max's 5x camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

And here's another photo from the 15 Pro max's 5x camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

Look at the denim texture in this 15 Pro pic from the main camera.

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

I took this with the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

What to expect from the iPhone 16

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

The iPhone 16 (not pictured) is expected to launch in September. Apple/CNET

With that in mind, you might be wondering whether it's worth waiting for the iPhone 16. It's impossible to know exactly what to expect until Apple announces the next iPhone. But rumors and reports suggest the following changes could be in store for Apple's next batch of iPhones:

  • Larger screen sizes on the Pro models, according to Bloomberg, MacRumors and analysts Ming-Chi Kuo and Ross Young. 
  • A dedicated camera button, likely just for the Pro models, and the Action button on regular iPhone 16 models, according to Bloomberg and MacRumors. 
  • A tetraprism 5x telephoto camera on the iPhone 16 Pro, according to Ming-Chi Kuo. This type of camera is currently only found on the larger and more expensive iPhone 15 Pro Max. 
  • A new processor, likely called the A18 or A18 Pro.

What to consider when buying a new iPhone

the best and worst times to buy a new iphone

iPhones on display in an Apple Store. SOPA Images/Getty Images

There are several factors to keep in mind when buying a new phone. Your budget is the biggest consideration, since it'll dictate your options. Otherwise, you'll want to decide what you're hoping to get out of your new phone.

Do you often use your phone for photography and videography projects and need the best possible camera in an iPhone? If the answer is yes, the Pro models are the way to go. Screen size is also important. If you have a desktop computer and a phone, but nothing that fits in-between like a personal laptop or a tablet, you might want a phone with a large screen for reading emails and watching videos. If that's the case, consider the Plus or Pro Max model.

Then there are last year's models. Buying last year's phone can be a worthwhile option if you want a larger screen and don't want to shell out an extra $100 for the newest Plus model. Right now, for example, Apple sells the iPhone 14 Plus for $799, the same price as the standard iPhone 15. Apple usually supports its phones with software updates for about five years, so you should still be able to get a good amount of time out of an iPhone that's a generation behind.

Overall, when buying a new iPhone, you'll want to avoid shopping right before the new one comes out and think about your priorities and budget. We'll have more advice to share as we learn more about what to expect from the iPhone 16.

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