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It’s been a long time since you could only get an iPhone directly from Apple or from AT&T. Today, it’s offered by all major carriers and big retailers, and many of them want to entice you to buy with them by offering special deals. Of course, you can always buy from Apple directly, either in-store or online.

If you haven’t yet put in your order for an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, here’s a summary of some of the deals and promotions offered by different retailers to help you make up your mind. For each, we’ll tell you about any current special deals, when you should consider buying there, and when you shouldn’t.

Apple Store

Best deals

Apple’s not running any iPhone 11 promotions right now. However, it is one of the few places to buy an unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, and it’s the go-to place to join the iPhone Upgrade Program. Apple will let you trade in your old iPhone (in good condition) as credit toward a new purchase, too.

Why you should buy here

iphone x launch unionsquare apple store Apple

If you really want to kick the tires on a new Apple product, a trip to the Apple Store is probably the best way to do it. If you have a lot of questions or need help with setup, Apple Store employees are generally going to be helpful, accurate, and patient, without pressuring you to buy stuff.

If you want to buy your phone with the iPhone Upgrade Program, you’ll have to do it at the Apple Store or in the Apple Store iOS app

If you always want the latest iPhone every year, the iPhone Upgrade Program is a pretty good deal. You pay off your iPhone in 24 monthly installments, but can swap it in for a new iPhone after 12 months (thus renewing the 24-month contract). You get Apple Care+ included, too.

It’s also one of the few places you can get your iPhone 11 or 11 Pro SIM-free and unlocked.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

If you plan to switch carriers or open a new line, buying directly from the carrier can be a better bargain—many carriers offer nice incentives to switch over. From time to time, carriers may offer deals (“buy one get one free” or other rebates), though those usually require some sort of long-term commitment. The best carrier deals tend to be for new line activations and transfers, though.


Best deals

The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro do not appear to be available from Amazon as of this writing.

Why you should buy here

Amazon rarely has deals on the latest iPhone models, but it can be a good place to score a deal on an older certified refurbished model.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

You’re almost never buying directly from Amazon, but rather through a reseller. And most of the iPhones you’ll find on Amazon are certified refurbished, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not the place to go if you’re looking for a brand new model.


Best deals

AT&T is running a buy one, get one offer. If you buy an eligible iPhone, you get one free or discounted.

There are a number of conditions, of course. Carriers don’t just give away free phones. You’ll need to:

  • Purchase two eligible iPhones (iPhone 8 or higher) on a qualifying installment agreement.
  • Add at least one new line to a new or existing account.
  • Pay taxes on the full retail price of both devices up front.
  • Have an eligible AT&T unlimited plan.
  • Pay a $30 activation or upgrade fee for each device.

If you meet all those conditions, you get one of the phones (up to a 64GB iPhone 11) for “free” because they’ll give you bill credits enough to cover the monthly installments for it. If you want more storage or an iPhone 11 Pro, you get $700 worth of bill credits.

Why you should buy here

Sign at AT&T’s flagship San Francisco store Stephen Lawson

If you’re already a happy AT&T customer, or if you don’t mind being saddled to the company for a couple years, you might as well buy directly from the carrier. Just know that the deals are typically designed to get you really attached to the carrier. They want you paying monthly installments for years, so deals are designed to save you money on a second phone in exchange for locking you in to the carrier for a long time. 

Why you shouldn’t buy here

If you just want to buy one phone, or if you want the freedom to hop to different carriers at a whim, buying your iPhone 11 or 11 Pro directly from AT&T is not your best option.

There’s a bunch of fine print to consider on the current deal. 

Best Buy

Best deals

Best Buy is offering an iPhone 11 preorder deal until September 29, 2019. You can save “up to $550” when you buy an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro and trade in an eligible device in good working order.

You have to activate the phone on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint.

That “up to $550” is actually $150 in Best Buy instant savings on an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro (but not an iPhone 11 Pro Max!), plus up to $400 in credit for the iPhone you turn in. (The $400 value is for an iPhone X with either 64GB or 256GB.) The discount may be bill credits toward the carrier on which you activate your phone.

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Why you should buy here

Best Buy iPhone deals tend to come in two forms: A decent-sized gift card (useful only if you plan to buy more stuff from Best Buy) or a discount on buying a new phone with activation of a new line, paid in monthly installments. It’s not dissimilar to buying from a carrier, and only worthwhile if you don’t mind a long-term commitment.

best buy sign Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

If you are thinking of purchasing through Best Buy, be sure to compare its discounts with other big-box retailers and the major carriers. The best deal can vary depending on when you look.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

If you want to just pay the full price for an unactivated, unlocked iPhone, you shouldn’t do it here. Best Buy used to be one of the very few retailers who would sell you a SIM-free iPhone, but you now have to sign up with Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint. 

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, Best Buy is not the retailer for you.


Best deals

Buying a phone directly from a fellow consumer (be it a used or new-in-box option) can always be a bit of a risk. But you can also save plenty of money if you’re willing to be patient and negotiate on price.

Just be careful. Only buy from qualified sellers with lots of positive feedback, or from someone local so you can go inspect the phone and make sure it works properly and is in the promised condition before handing over a single penny.

On a just-released phone like the iPhone 11 or 11 Pro, you’re not likely to find a good deal when buying directly from another consumer. In fact, you’ll probably pay more, especially if the model you want is in short supply (the Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro is going fast). But if every store is out of stock and you can’t get one for another three weeks, and you just have to have that particular model right now, this may be your only option.

Why you should buy here

There are two good reasons to buy an iPhone from eBay or Craigslist (or other similar person-to-person markets):

1. You don’t want the newest hottest model and aren’t in a rush to buy, so you can take your time finding a good deal on the phone you want in great condition.

2. You do want the newest hottest model, the one that’s totally out of stock everywhere, and you just have to have it now even if it means paying an inflated price.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

If you want the latest iPhone and it hasn’t been on the market for six months, you’re not likely to find a good deal. You’ll spend a lot of time trying to find one that isn’t scratched, chipped, or cracked. And then, on top of all that, you have to worry about getting ripped off.


Best deals

Sprint will give you a maximum credit of up to $29.17 toward your monthly payments on a Sprint Flex 18-month lease. That’s enough to make your monthly payments totally free for a 64GB iPhone 11 and $12.50 per month for a 64GB iPhone 11 Pro or $16.67 per month for a 64GB iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Those prices require that you trade in an iPhone 8 or better. And your year-old iPhone XS Max doesn’t get you more credit than an iPhone 8. An older iPhone (iPhone SE through iPhone 7+) will earn you a monthly credit of $8.34.

You also need to activate a new line.

Why you should buy here

sprint storefront.jog Sprint

Sprint’s deal can get you into an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro for very little money, if you’re willing to trade in a relatively recent iPhone. 

It’s a pretty good deal if you are willing to be locked in to Sprint for at least 18 months, and you don’t mind leasing your phone instead of buying it in monthly installments. There’s a big difference! 

Why you shouldn’t buy here

Sprint’s deal requires trading in a phone you own, and it’s better for new customers than existing customers. Perhaps most importantly, it requires leasing your new iPhone 11 on the Sprint Flex plan. That’s an 18-month lease that allows you to trade in your phone for a new one (and renew the lease) after 12 payments. After the 18 months are up, you don’t own your phone. You can either turn it in to Sprint and get a new one with a new lease period, or pay the difference in price between your lease payments and the phone’s full price to own it. You can pay that outright or divide it into six more monthly installments, which makes Sprint Flex very similar to other two-year purchase installment plans.

As with most phone lease programs, that’s not necessarily a good deal. In 18 months, the full retail price of an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro will have dropped considerably, but your buy-out purchase price will be based on today’s new phone prices.

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Best deals

As a person-to-person sales market, deals on Swappa vary a lot. Depending on the age and condition of a device, you can pay anything from above retail (on very hard-to-get iPhone models) to hundreds of dollars less. If you missed the early-preorder window and you want a hot new iPhone right away, you can probably buy a new-in-box model direct from another consumer…at a considerable markup.

Don’t expect to find any good deals on the iPhone 11 or 11 Pro in any person-to-person marketplace until the phone has been available for at least a few months.

Why you should buy here

There are lots of person-to-person sales services out there, from eBay to OfferUp to Letgo to Facebook Marketplace, and they all carry their share of risk of the seller trying to rip you off.

We like Swappa because it does more to protect buyers: The company reviews every listing to help ensure that the seller isn’t a scammer. It verifies ESN numbers to weed out any that are not fully paid for, listed as stolen, or unavailable for activation. It makes sure that sellers have reset the device and disabled iCloud so it can be set up as a new user. And it requires verification photos to prove ownership and verify condition.

Is it fool-proof? No, but sellers on Swappa have to jump through just enough hoops to keep most of the scammers at bay. If you’re buying a phone from a random person on the internet, that’s a big deal. 

Why you shouldn’t buy here

No matter how diligent Swappa is about eliminating scammers and fraud, you’re still buying a phone directly from another human over the internet using a PayPal account. You can save a lot of money, but there are always things that can go wrong—and you don’t have the same recourse as if you bought from a major retailer or carrier.


Best deals

t-mobile store Mike Mozart

T-Mobile is promoting iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro preorders by saying you can “get 50% off” with an eligible trade-in.

In reality, this is just the usual trade-in discount, and it varies by phone.

On either the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, you get $350 off if you trade in an iPhone 7 Plus to iPhone XR (in good condition). You get $500 off if you trade in an iPhone XS, and $550 for an iPhone XS Max.

The discount comes in the form of 24 monthly bill credits.

Why you should buy here

There aren’t quite as many gotchas and tricks hiding in this deal as with other carriers. It doesn’t require adding a new line and it doesn’t require you to buy two phones. It also is eligible on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which some retailers aren’t discounting.

Still, it’s only really of value to those who wish to remain a T-Mobile customer for a couple years, since the discount only comes in the form of 24 monthly bill credits.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

$350 worth of bill credit isn’t a bad deal for an old iPhone 7 Plus, but isn’t less of a good deal on your iPhone XR. And though there are fewer “gotchas” than with other carriers, you don’t save quite as much money.


Best deals

Verizon says it will give you “up to $700 off” the latest iPhone. There’s a lot of qualifiers to that.

If you trade in an iPhone 7 or later (or a number of qualifying Android phones) you get $500 in credit toward an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro (including the iPhone 11 Pro Max). That’s $500 only if you open a new line. If you’re upgrading, it’s a mere $200 credit.

Trade in an older phone (iPhone 5s to iPhone 6s Plus, or a long list of Android phones) and you get $300 in credit for new lines or $100 for upgrades.

Those discounts come in the form of 24 monthly bill credits.

You get another $200, in the form of a prepaid Mastercard (mailed to you within 8 weeks), if you also sign up for a new Unlimited plan. So the max $500 trade-in credit plus $200 prepaid Mastercard is how they get to $700.

Why you should buy here

verizon store Verizon

It’s a big savings if you happen to meet all the conditions—Verizon customer, don’t mind 24 monthly installments, getting a new Unlimited plan.

Why you shouldn’t buy here

That’s a lot of gotchas! The trade-in values are only good if you open new lines, and are quite low if you’re just upgrading. And that new line has to be Unlimited to get that other $200, which isn’t even really a discount, it’s a prepaid Mastercard.

People jumping to Verizon and Unlimited can save a decent amount, but everyone else, including existing Verizon customers looking to upgrade, are probably better off just selling their existing phone or shopping somewhere else.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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