An autumnal tradition, Apple’s yearly iPhone unveiling has retained its position as one of the most sought-after new releases—nevermind the $699 starting price tag for the smallest phone with the least available storage.
We may spend a lot of our free time on the phone, but do the ends justify the means? Frankly, many people are better off avoiding the annual hype train in favor of a more budget-friendly approach.
If you already have a pre-ordered iPhone 12 on the way, don’t take any of this personally. Lifestyle Apple users and well-researched tech geeks know what they like and what they need, but the rest of us might benefit from a bit of added perspective. Before you sign up for a long contract or dip into your savings, it’s important to be certain the iPhone 12 is right for you.
12 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an iPhone 12
1. Are You Using Your Current Phone to its Full Potential?
Do you feel that the augmented reality features on the iPhone 11 aren’t immersive enough, that its A13 bionic chip doesn’t operate at a high enough frequency? Would your life be substantially easier if your phone could tolerate being six meters underwater for half an hour instead of a meager two meters for the same amount of time?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be hard to justify spending over a grand on a new phone. Especially when…
2. Amazon Has Refurbished iPhone 11 Models for Under $600
Why waste time waiting in line or suffering through pre-order queues for the newest iPhone when you can enjoy the tried and true satisfaction of getting a majorly deep discount on the previous model. Depending on your carrier, you can get an iPhone 11 for under $600 on Amazon—at the time of this writing, a $574 option is available that includes Amazon Prime. If the iPhone 12’s features feel too good to pass up, all you have to do is wait a year.
Of course, if you’re willing to consider non-Apple phones, such as the Pixel 4, the discounts can get even better.
3. 4G is Fast Enough
Statistically speaking, many prospective iPhone 12 buyers don’t even have fully operating 5G in their area. On top of that, the major difference between the fifth generation of broadband and its (very recent) predecessor remains to be seen. Sure, 5G technology will expand and improve over time once more apps and services take advantage of its speed and performance, but do you want to drop hundred of dollars on beta testing it?
4. High-Speed MagSafe Wireless Charging is not Quite Ready for Primetime
Similar to the promise of potential for 5G-optimized cellphones, Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging system sounds great and may someday truly be great. After all, less struggling with wires is never a bad thing. But don’t let the recently doubled charging speed fool you—15W is one thing, “up to 15W” is another. Let’s hope your favorite outlets are up to the task.
5. The iPhone 11 Has the Same Screen Size
Aside from the iPhone 12 mini, the newest generation of iPhone offers a 6.1-inch screen and weighs approximately one-third of a pound—just like the iPhone 11. Those looking for a bigger screen will be disappointed, while others who prefer a smaller smartphone can trade in their old phone and score a 4.7-inch iPhone SE for up to $140 off, which is a 35% discount. Plus, the SE retails for $400; almost half the price of the 12 before any extra discounts.
6. It Doesn’t Even Come With a Charger!
Unwrapping the customary EarPods and charger is an important part of the iPhone unboxing experience—well, it was. As mentioned earlier, it’s still unclear how well Apple’s new MagSafe high-speed charging system will fare in the wild, but one thing’s for sure: if you want to find out for yourself, get ready to pay Apple an additional $39.
If you’ve made it this far and still think the iPhone 12 is the best choice for you, here are the most recent AirPods deals we’ve seen. You’re going to need them.
7. If You Want a Deal Today, Prepare to get Stuck with a Carrier Plan
Naturally, the iPhone 12 will run you the full $699 to $1,400 if you buy it outright from the Apple Store. While you aren’t obligated to spend this much all at once, most launch day deals involve 24-to-30 month payment plans that can’t be easily paid off early. With that in mind, you may be coveting the new iPhone 14 by the time your contract is over.
As the cheapest option available, the $699 64GB iPhone Mini starts at $29 a month for 24 months. On the other end of the spectrum, a 512GB iPhone 12 Pro Max will run you a whopping $58 for the same amount of time. If you don’t think you’ll be as jazzed about the iPhone 12 in September 2022, it’s not too late to turn back.
8. Your Camera is Probably Good Enough
Videographers, AR enthusiasts and landscape photographers might benefit from the iPhone 12’s HDR video recording and telephoto lens, but these features alone are probably not going to revolutionize your Instagram presence. Plus, you can always spring for a third-party lens set if you want to brush up on your photo skills. You can buy a 13 piece kit on Amazon for just $19.99, down from $24.99.
9. Still no Expandable Storage
Not to incite an operating systems war, but the iPhone’s lack of expandable storage grows more shocking with every new generation, given the intense and ongoing iPhone/Android race. If you want a 128GB or 256GB iPhone 12 or mini, expect to pay an extra $50 to $100. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max start at 128GB, but a 256GB or 512GB phone will run you an extra $100 to $200.
10. If you Must, the iPhone 12 mini is a Better Deal
Starting at $699, the iPhone 12 Mini offers the best combination of exciting new features and affordability. It shares the Super Retina XDR Display with its larger and costlier sibling and offers a denser resolution at 476 dpi, as well as the new A14 Bionic chip—among many other attributes.
Since the iPhone 12 mini isn’t available for pre-order until November 6th, you have a minute to think on this one. In the meantime, you may as well set up a Deal Alert, kick back and relax until it drops to your preferred price range.
11. Okay, You’re Really Going to Spend $1,400, Please Just Buy a Laptop
Obviously, phones and laptops serve different purposes. However, many iPhone users are mainly using their machines to watch Hulu and take funny pictures of their pets. Do you need a professional-grade lens to take dog pictures? For the same price, you can take these photographs, talk to your friends and watch YouTube on a screen that is several times larger—it’s even outfitted with a convenient keyboard.
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday draw closer, new laptop deals are popping up all the time.
12. Seriously, Your Phone Already Does Everything You Need it to Do
Apple is renowned for its ability to innovate, improve upon and even invent new functions for each generation of iPhone, MacBook and even iOS. That’s great, variety is the spice of life, but ask yourself: Do I need this? It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when a shiny new gadget features something you hadn’t heard of until that day, but ask yourself a few more times: Do I really need this? If 95% of your phone activity consists of surfing social media, calls, texts and the occasional game of Fortnite, the answer is probably “no.”
On the off chance you made it this far and are still firmly rooted in your desire for an iPhone 12, who are we to stop you? In fact, your devotion is admirable: the iPhone 12 and Pro are available for pre-order now, with the mini and Pro Max not far behind (pre-orders for those phones start November 6th).