If you were planning to buy an iPhone 14, where would you shop? Depending on where you are in the world your answer might vary, but in the US at least, the answer is increasingly not through Apple’s own stores.
That’s according to a report from CIRP (opens in new tab) (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC), via The Verge (opens in new tab), which found that only around 24% of US iPhone buyers are shopping directly with Apple.
67% meanwhile are buying their iPhones through carriers – so primarily AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. That’s the vast majority of sales, and in much of the world that stat might not be overly surprising, but given the long lines US Apple stores used to get on iPhone launch days, it seems this might mark a shift in the US.
What might actually be the most surprising stat is that other retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, only make up the remaining 9%.
Still, there are good reasons to choose carriers. For one thing, there are only actually 272 Apple Stores in the US, while carrier stores are far more prevalent, making them a lot more convenient.
Of course, a lot of shopping happens online nowadays, but whether in store or on the web, carriers tend to offer the best iPhone deals, as you’ll often be able to get a new iPhone for ‘free’ through a carrier, as part of your monthly plan; making it at least appear a lot more affordable.
The overall costs aren’t always lower, but at least they’re spread out more, and often carriers genuinely are a lot cheaper – or throw in extras to sweeten the deal. So their success in iPhone sales is no real surprise.
Analysis: how carriers compare to Apple
Carrier deals vary of course, but sometimes they’re genuinely great, such as Verizon’s Cyber Monday deal, which remarkably is still running and gives customers a free Apple Watch SE 2, iPad 10.2 (2021), and pair of Beats Fit Pro, when they purchase an iPhone 14 Pro on an unlimited data plan.
On top of that, customers can also get up to $1,000 off if they trade in an old handset, and a $200 gift card if switching from another carrier.
If you bought an iPhone 14 Pro through Apple now or even during the Black Friday period you’d basically have to pay the full price of the phone, with no discounts, gift cards or freebies.
There are caveats here, in that you can choose to spread the cost, and Apple does offer trade-ins and some deals with carrier activation (but usually no better than the deals you’d get by going direct to the carrier).
But it didn’t offer any specific Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals of its own on the iPhone 14 line, and even if you bought an older model during that period the best you could hope for was a $50 gift card.
And that’s typical of Apple. Other retailers – such as Walmart and Best Buy – sometimes offer greater discounts, which is why their tiny slice of the pie is a bit surprising, but they’re still rarely a match for the best carrier deals.
So if you’re looking to buy an iPhone, you should definitely look beyond Apple itself, because there are often much better deals elsewhere – and that’s true outside the US as well.
To help you out, we have a guide to the best iPhone deals, and you’ll find the current best prices for many models in your region below.