The real cost of buying a new iPhone

What else do you need?
What else do you need?
Image: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

So you’ve decided to pick up one of Apple’s new smartphones—congratulations! They’re really quite nice.

But are you going to buy just that iPhone? Unless you’re completely ornery (like me) or you never drop things, you’re probably going to want a case. And if you are a bit clumsy (also like me), you’ll probably want to add on AppleCare, Apple’s quite decent protection plan. And unless you have giant hands, you might want to add on a PopSocket to hold your big new phone, or maybe a stick-on wallet so you don’t have to take the phone and your wallet wherever you go. Just these simple, practical additions to a new iPhone purchase can really add up.

Below is a pretty typical breakdown of the sorts of things someone would likely consider adding on to their new phone purchase:

(Tax will obviously vary based on where you live.)

Other add-ons can send the price even higher. For example, if you don’t want to buy the lowest storage option available (64 GB is quite a meagre amount of storage in 2018), or if you want to pick up a wireless charger, or any of the myriad cables needed to connect the phone to everything else you own, you could be looking at a bill well over $1,500 for your new $999 smartphone. And if you wanted to supersize your order and pick up a new 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max, all of the above could come in closer to $2,000.

There are ways to lower these costs. Apple’s iPhone Xr, which just went on sale, starts at $749, and the consensus is that it’s almost as good as the iPhone Xs in every way. Buying a new one, along with AppleCare (which is cheaper than for an Xs) and an OtterBox Vue case (Apple doesn’t yet make cases for the Xr) would set you back around $1,020.

If you’re a fan of upgrading your phone to the latest model all the time, you could also take advantage of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, where you pay a monthly fee for the device, and can trade in for a new one each year. The program comes with AppleCare included, and starts at $49.91 per month, which works out to $1,197.84—a saving of about $106 over buying the phone outright. The problem is that you’re locked into the program forever, or until you choose not to upgrade to a new phone and pay off the remaining balance on your account.

Obviously, you could do similar arithmetic for any smartphone—Samsung now also sells $1,000 phones—and it’s always worth weighing up the true cost of any product you plan to purchase. But the price of Apple’s devices has skyrocketed so dramatically in recent years—previously, the average price of iPhones consumers were buying was around $650, but since the introduction of the iPhone X last year, it’s shot up to closer to $800—that it’s worth considering how big of a purchase a new top-of-the-line iPhone will actually be for you.