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Apple announces new iPhones – how to find the cheapest deals

Apple has announced three new iPhones at its latest live event in California – but they're certainly not MoneySaving, with the most expensive costing £1,449.

The iPhone XS and XS Max will be available in the UK next week, while the XR will be here next month. 

The XS Max – the premium model – features the largest screen and battery that Apple has ever used for an iPhone, which is reflected by a £1,099 starting price, which rises to £1,449 for the 512GB storage version.

The XR is the relative 'budget' version, with a starting price of £749. It features many of the same specifications as the two XS models, with some drawbacks, such as having only a single rear camera and an LCD screen – unlike the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen of the XS. 

Buying a new iPhone is never MoneySaving – but if you're determined to get one anyway, buying it in the right way could save you almost £600 over two years compared with the cost of a standard contract.

See below for a round-up of the different ways to buy an iPhone XS or XS Max.

For full info on cutting the cost of an iPhone, see our Cheap iPhones guide. 

What features do the new iPhones have?

Apple has said its new iPhone XS and XS Max take the smartphone to the "next level".

They feature some of the following specifications:

  • iPhone XS – 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display, dual 12-megapixel telephoto and wide-angle rear cameras, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 20 hours' talk-time battery life.
  • iPhone XS Max – 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED display, dual 12-megapixel telephoto and wide-angle rear cameras, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 25 hours' talk-time battery life.
  • iPhone XR – 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display, 12-megapixel rear camera, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 25 hours' talk-time battery life.

Right now, a traditional contract is the cheapest way to get it – but don't go direct 

Buying a new handset on a traditional mobile contract from the major mobile networks can be £100s more expensive than buying the handset outright and pairing with a cheap Sim.

Yet reseller sites such as Mobiles.co.uk* (owned by Carphone Warehouse) or MobilePhonesDirect are almost always cheaper than going direct to the network. They can sometimes even undercut buying upfront – and right now we've found pre-order deals on EE, O2 and Vodafone that can save you up to £560 over the two-year contract for the same deal if bought direct, and up to £100 cheaper than a comparable handset and Sim combo.

Our top-pick iPhone XS deal with a high data allowance works out £598 less than O2's comparable standard two-year deal. Via Mobiles.co.uk* (part of Carphone Warehouse), if you're an O2 newbie, you'll get 15GB of data with unlimited minutes and texts for £34/month, though you'll have to stump up a hefty £410 upfront – so £1,226 over the two years. That's also about £60 cheaper over the two years than the cheapest alternative we found buying the phone upfront and pairing with an equivalent Sim.

Want to buy it outright? It's cheaper than a contract bought direct but beaten by resellers

Usually when a new iPhone's launched we say the cheapest way is to buy it upfront – if you can stomach the hefty price-tag – and then find a separate cheap Sim to use it with. Yet this launch, we've found that contract deals often beat this – and require a lower upfront fee.  

But if you'd rather own the device outright, here are the prices if you buy direct from Apple: 

  • iPhone XS Max – from £1,099 for the 64GB model to £1,449 for the 512GB model
  • iPhone XS – from £999 for the 64GB model to £1,349 for the 512GB model
  • iPhone XR – from £749 for the 64GB model to £899 for the 512GB model

If these prices are too steep, and you're happy with an older model, we've seen Apple's prices for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 7 and 7 Plus drop by £100, with an iPhone 7 starting at £449.

Spread the cost interest-free with Apple

iPhone Payments is Apple's interest-free financing scheme – it's now available for the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR (pre-orders open for the XR on Friday 19 October). This allows you to buy the phone for Apple's standard price but pay only a small amount upfront and the rest in 20 monthly instalments.

You'll be credit-checked and will need to be accepted for what's technically an interest-free loan, though. Here's what it costs:

  • iPhone XS – £69 upfront, then £46.50/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£54/mth for 256GB or £64/mth for 512GB)
  • iPhone XS Max – £69 upfront, then £51.50/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£59/mth for 256GB or £69/mth for 512GB)
  • iPhone XR – £69 upfront, then £34/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£36.50/mth for 256GB or £41.50/mth for 512GB)

Be careful not to get caught out as Apple also offers another scheme – its iPhone Upgrade Programme – which gives you the option to swap handsets and includes AppleCare, its extended warranty and technical support service, but this can usually be beaten by other methods. See our Cheap iPhones guide for full information.

How different ways of buying the iPhone compare

To show the savings you can make buying in the right way, we've compared the current prices for an iPhone XS using the different purchasing options outlined above.

To compare the cost of handset plus allowance, we've used Plusnet's £8/mth Sim with 2,000 minutes and 2,000 texts and 3.5GB of data as a benchmark, and used networks' closest deals where there's no direct equivalent.

iPhone XS pre-order deals compared (i)

Deal Upfront cost Monthly cost (ii) Data allowance Total over 24mths
24MTH CONTRACT VIA RESELLER (iii)
Vodafone (via Mobiles.co.uk*) £540 £23 4GB £1,092
EE (via Mobiles.co.uk*) £650 £22 4GB £1,178
O2 (via Mobiles.co.uk*) £490 £29 4GB £1,186
BUY OUTRIGHT + PLUSNET SIM (iv)
Apple (outright) £999 £8 3.5GB £1,191
24MTH STANDARD CONTRACT
Three (direct) £99 £54 4GB £1,395
Vodafone (direct) £79 £60 4GB £1,519
EE (direct) £70 £68 4GB £1,702
O2 (direct) £30 (v) £71.25 (v) 4GB £1,752

Prices correct as of 14 Sep 2018, rounded to the nearest £1. We haven't linked to standard network contracts as these are more expensive. (i) All with unlimited mins & texts unless stated. (ii) Monthly costs are over 24mths. Monthly contract prices may increase in line with inflation each year. (iii) Cheapest deals we found from resellers – no cheaper Three deal available. (iv) 2,000 mins & 2,000 texts. (v) O2 allows you to configure the upfront & monthly cost, ie, you can set how much you pay upfront, which changes the monthly cost, though the overall total doesn't change.

As always it's worth checking if cashback is available on these types of deals. See our Top Cashback Sites guide for more information. Remember you can also trade in your old handset for cash – check our Sell Old Mobiles guide for tips.