Apple’s new iPhone pricing seems purposefully designed to be as confusing as possible

A phone for every budget and then some.

Credit: Apple

In case you missed it, Apple has four new iPhone 12s to sell you. But the lineup is even more confusing and treacherous than the addition of a single extra model.

Let’s start with the iPhone 12 mini. Compared to the iPhone 11, you get a new smaller option, 5G, better cameras, and a thinner design, with pricing that’s pretty much in line with last year.

Here are the prices with a “customer discount” through Verizon and AT&T:

iPhone 12 mini (Verizon and AT&T):

  • 64GB: $699
  • 128GB: $749
  • 256GB: $849

iPhone 12 (Verizon and AT&T):

  • 64GB: $799
  • 128GB: $849
  • 256GB $949

T-Mobile and Sprint buyers will actually pay $30 more, as will anyone getting an unlocked, SIM-free model. Here’s how that pricing looks:

iPhone 12 mini (Sprint, T-Mobile, Unlocked):

  • 64GB: $729
  • 128GB: $779
  • 256GB: $879

iPhone 12 (Sprint, T-Mobile, Unlocked): 

  • 64GB: $829
  • 128GB: $879
  • 256GB): $979

Maybe now we know why Apple trotted out a Verizon exec to help launch the iPhone 12's 5G capabilities. What's even odder, however, is that the pricing duplicity doesn’t apply to the Pros, however. You can get either the standard 6.1-inch Pro or the 6.7-inch Max for the same starting prices as last year with double the storage, and the tiers have decreased by $50 across the board to reflect that as well.

iPhone 12 Pro:

  • 128GB: $999
  • 256GB: $1,099
  • 512GB: $1,299

iPhone 12 Pro Max:

  • 128GB: $1,099
  • 256GB: $1,199
  • 512GB: $1,399
iphone 12 pro colors Apple

The iPhone 12 Pro is offered at the same price as last year's phones, with or without carrier offers.

But wait, there’s more! Apple is also still selling the iPhone SE for $399, as well as the iPhone XE and iPhone 11, both of which got a price cut.

iPhone XR:

  • 64GB: $499
  • 128GB: $549

iPhone 11:

  • 64GB: $599
  • 128GB: $649
  • 256GB: $749

Put it all together, and Apple is selling 26 different iPhone pricing tiers, and with so many options, you might not realize you’re paying more than you should (or at least more than Apple advertises) for an unlocked iPhone 12.

iPhone SE: $399/$449/$549

iPhone XR: $499/$549

iPhone 11: $599/$649/$749

iPhone 12 mini: $699/$749/$849

iPhone 12 mini (unlocked): $729/$779/$879

iPhone 12: $799/$849/$949

iPhone 12 (unlocked): $829/$879/$979

iPhone 12 Pro: $999/$1,099/$1,299

iPhone 12 Pro Max: $1,099/$1,199/$1,399

Got all that? Sure the new iPhones may be faster than ever, but they’re also a confusing minefield of pricing pitfalls and options. Remember when buying a new iPhone was simply a choice of which color you wanted?

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon
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