The age of "cheap" iPhones is ending. Over the last few weeks, Verizon and Sprint announced that they are no longer subsidizing new phones in exchange for people signing two-year contracts.
Ultimately, some of those contracts were not great deals, with people paying more in the long-run for their phones than they would if they just bought them outright.
Still, smartphones aren't cheap. A new iPhone 6 with 16 gigabytes of memory costs $649. That is a lot harder to swallow than the $199 the phone previously cost with a two-year Verizon or Sprint plan.
There are a few other options out there. You could switch from the iPhone to something cheaper, like the Moto G, a $180 Android phone with stellar reviews. The $300 OnePlus One is also a popular option for people who don't to spend more than $600 on a gadget they will probably replace in a couple of years anyway.
Can't stand the idea of someone swiping their greasy fingers all over your pristine Gorilla Glass? But you also don't have $650 to spare? You still have some options when it comes to buying a brand-new iPhone.
Sprint: The company just announced its "iPhone Forever" plan. It lets Sprint customers get the latest iPhone whenever they feel like it, provided they trade in their old phone and add $22 a month to their bill to do it. Not a bad deal for people who absolutely must have the newest phone coming out of Cupertino.
Just don't put off upgrading your iPhone for too long, or you could end up actually spending more than retail price for it.
Verizon: Now instead of paying $199 upfront and paying higher monthly fees, Verizon lets you buy phones for no money down as long as you pay $27.08 a month for 24 months.
Wait ... 24 months? Is that just a two-year contract in disguise? No, because customers can leave Verizon whenever they want without the high cancellation fees, as long as they pay off the balance on their phone.
AT&T: There are a variety of choices here. AT&T has the Next 24, 18 and 12 plans, which offer new phones after making (you guessed it) 24, 18 and 12 payments, respectively, and trading in your old phone.The shorter the plan or the more expensive the phone, the higher the monthly bill.
Let's take a customer with good credit. With the Next 18 plan, they can get the entry-level iPhone 6 for $27.09 a month for 24 months (the 18 refers to the number of payments before you can get a new phone ... yeah, its confusing) with no money down.
T-Mobile: Agree to pay $27.08 for 24 months with no money down and, voila, you have a new iPhone 6.
Customers with good credit can also join the "Jump! On Demand" plan, which lets them upgrade to a new phone three times a year -- talk about a tech addict! -- as long as they turn in their old phones and make payments of $15 a month. If someone wants to keep their phone instead of getting a new one, they can just pay off the remaining balance after making at least 18 payments.
Does that all sound too complicated? Too bad! Smartphones are expensive -- carriers have just stopped hiding that fact.