Tech deals that sound too good to be true usually are. But is it possible to get a free iPhone?
Our best answer is no. Well kinda. Technically, yes; But not really. Did that clarify things? You can’t just head over to our list of the best iPhones, pick your favorite, and magically get one at no cost. But there are some solutions.
Free iPhone promotions that are advertised online usually come from mobile networks. However, the sting in the tail is that you have to sign up for a service agreement, which comes with a monthly payment that covers your calls and data.
Some of the best deals will also be tied to barter. You are sending your phone to the network, and in return, you will save a whole pile of cash from the initial cost of the phone. Ideally, this will be the full upfront cost of the device.
It’s a “free iPhone” in the sense that you don’t pay for the phone. However, you will be bound by a contract that you cannot undo once you hand in your shiny new iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Other Free iPhone Tactics
If you were expecting something better, we apologize for shattering your hopes. The fact of the matter is that if you see a website or an ad claiming to offer a free iPhone with no restrictions, it will surely be a scam. You may be directed to a website with malware, or asked to fill out a form that results in your data being harvested as part of a phishing scheme; It’s where your personal data is used to try to scam you out of your money.
Of course, iPhones are also routinely given out as prizes in competitions. There is nothing particularly shady about this, aside from the fact that it is used as a lure to persuade you to sign up for marketing emails and newsletters. You are not likely to win – although there are people who have participated in competitions and won a bunch of prizes. Hope springs eternal, right?
Therefore, “free iPhone” deals with phone networks may still be worth looking into. Details of these deals will vary from month to month, but we’ll be checking out a few available from mid-June 2022 to see if they’re worth the jump.
AT&T Free iPhone Deal
Our first free iPhone deal comes from AT&T. It saves up to $700 off a new iPhone when you trade in your current or another phone, which means you can get an iPhone 13 mini for free, or just pay $99 for a standard iPhone 13.
Also note that the trade-in is not limited to the last generation iPhones which still deserve a good deal of change in the used market. iPhone 11? That’s 700 dollars. iPhone X? 700 dollars.
Exchange value drops to $350 for iPhone 8 and iPhone 7; But these models are very old. However, there are some conditions. The device must be in good condition, which sounds like a reasonable request. The touchscreen and back glass should be free of any damage, which is fair again. However, AT&T also requires that the phone be “free from scratches and dents”.
Submit your barter device and AT&T will give it away at once; It will be rejected if it is not in proper condition. We suppose this ominous wording is designed to deter people from trying to replace phones that look like they fell in the Grand Canyon.
Know that you’ll only get those inflated exchange values if you sign up for one of AT&T’s Unlimited Mobile Plans, which start at $65 a month. In addition, you have to pay sales tax on the full cost of the iPhone.
Consider how this actually works behind the scenes, too. By trading in a device, you are given a credit of approximately $20 per month for a 36-month device payment plan. It will take three years to “pay off” the cost of your iPhone, even if you haven’t actually paid anything beyond the service fee.
If you decide you want to leave AT&T after a year, those discounts will disappear and you may still owe AT&T about $500 for the phone you thought was free. At this point, you’ve already traded in your old phone for a few hundred dollars – which may or may not be a good deal.
Free iPhone Deal from Verizon
Verizon has a free iPhone deal right now that’s a little different. You can get the latest generation iPhone 12 or iPhone SE without a trade-in; Or, similar to AT&T, a new generation iPhone if you’re trading a fairly recent phone.
However, the premise is the same as the AT&T deal. You actually enroll in a financial plan that lowers the usual payment of $19.44 per month to $0.
However, this plan runs for 36 months. If you choose to leave the network before that time, you’ll still owe Verizon the remaining payments of $19.44 a month around the clock. Verizon also offers $200 to customers who switch networks in some deals, but it’s delivered two months after registration, and sent as a Verizon gift card. This means that you can only use it in Verizon stores.
Are these really good deals?
These deals from AT&T and Verizon are somewhat misleading, but we’re here to make the facts of the situation clear, rather than clear your bank balance. Just because these deals aren’t quite as attractive as they might at first seem, that doesn’t mean they’re totally poor.
Let’s analyze AT&T’s offering. We’ll use the scenario of trading in a relatively old iPhone X and buying a 128GB iPhone 13, giving AT&T a better chance going forward.
If you sign up for the $65 mobile plan, your bill will end at $71.27 per month as a result of remaining phone payments and additional fees. Stay for three years and you’ll pay approximately $2,595.72 (excluding sales tax) in total. And you are free.
Go the SIM-only route and you can get an unlimited data plan for $50 a month, although that doesn’t include the 3GB of hotspot data that comes with the iPhone deal. That comes to $1,800 over 36 months. Add the iPhone 13 at $799 and we’ll be at $2,599. However, we can sell the iPhone X on eBay for about $200. Minus the eBay fee and that’s $180. We came to $2,419.
The DIY route is a bit cheaper, but that changes if you buy the $10/month 5GB hotspot add-on.
What if we wanted to change things up and start over a year later? The DIY route costs us $1,218. With the swap method, you’ll pay $1,419.
There are more literal ways to save money, too. AT&T doesn’t really have any great SIM-only deals at the time of writing. Let’s buy an iPhone 13 at the Apple Store and use Mint Mobile instead of AT&T. We get the first three months of unlimited data (with 35GB at 5G speeds) for $15 a month, which increases to $30 a month if we agree to wait 12 months at a time.
Over the course of three years, we spent $1,654 (after selling our virtual iPhone X on eBay), instead of $2,595 on an AT&T trade-in. And we’re free to search for deals as each term of service ends, rather than being locked into one three-year deal.
Free iPhone? Not right. While these deals may come in handy if you can’t afford to buy a phone outright, sign up knowing there are ways to spend less in the long run.
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