Buy a New iPhone, by All Means. Just Not Right Now

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

Thinking about buying a new iPhone? It may be in your best interest to hold off just a bit longer.

Apple’s “Far Out” launch event is set for Wednesday, Sept. 7, when the company is expected to announce the rumored iPhone 14 lineup alongside other products such as the Apple Watch Series 8. Even if you have no interest in the newest iPhone, Apple will probably lower the prices of certain older iPhone models, meaning a little patience could save you a bundle of cash.

The latest rumors suggest that the iPhone 14 may go on sale Sept. 16. While we don’t yet have any concrete information — so far we only have Apple’s invite graphic — keeping this timing in mind could be helpful when determining whether it’s time to wait for that new device or to buy an iPhone 13 or iPhone 12 instead.

Apple’s iPhone 14 is probably launching soon

If Apple maintains its current pattern, it will likely announce the iPhone 14 at the Sept. 7 event alongside iOS 16 and launch it in the second half of the month. For example, Apple debuted the iPhone 13 on Sept. 14 before making it available in stores on Sept. 24. Timing was similar for the iPhone 11iPhone 8 and earlier models.

That said, there have been some exceptions. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro launched in October 2020, while the 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max became available in November that same year. The iPhone X also launched in November 2017.

As for what to expect from the iPhone 14, rumors indicate the Pro model could have an upgraded 48-megapixel main camera and a new notch-free look. Apple is also rumored to release a new larger size of the standard iPhone 14. 

Read a more in-depth analysis of when we think the iPhone 14 will launch based on Apple’s history here

The next iPhone line will likely arrive when iOS 16 gets a wide release.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Older iPhones might get cheaper

Don’t care about having the newest iPhone? You should still wait. Apple usually reduces the prices of previous iPhone models when introducing new models, just like it did with the iPhone 12 last year. The 64GB iPhone 12, for example, got a price cut to $700 from $800 after the iPhone 13 was announced. The iPhone 11, meanwhile, dropped to $500 in 2021.

This year’s iPhone launch could be even better for those who would rather save money on an older model. If Apple follows 2021’s pattern, it will likely keep the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in its lineup and drop the Mini’s price to $500. That’s significant, because it would make the iPhone 12 Mini one of the cheapest 5G iPhones available. Yes, the iPhone SE is cheaper at $430 and also supports 5G. However, it also comes with a much smaller screen than Apple’s other phones, only has one main camera (most new phones have two) and lacks Face ID. 

While 5G isn’t a necessity, it’s a good idea to make sure your next phone has 5G if you plan on keeping it for the next three years as those networks continue to develop. You can read more about whether it’s OK to buy a non-5G phone in 2022 here.

If you really need an iPhone right now

Not everyone is in a position to wait. If you really need a new iPhone right now and want to save a few bucks, consider buying a refurbished iPhone. Apple offers refurbished models on its website that come with a one-year warranty. Apple says these previously owned devices are inspected, cleaned and include the option to extend customer service with an AppleCare plan.

You can also check for refurbished models on websites like Gazelle and Amazon, which will have their own disclosures on device condition and terms for warranty length. (You can sell your iPhone now, too.)

For more, check out our guide to figuring out which iPhone is right for you.

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