Figuring out how to get the best price on a new iPhone always involves a few "ifs." But for the most part, T-Mobile's trade-in deal announced today (April 10) and taking effect this Friday, is a good one: Bring in an old iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s and get the iPhone 5 for no money down.
But the clock is ticking — if Apple launches its next iPhone in June, as rumored, those who took advantage of T-Mobile's deal may regret doing so.
Beginning on April 12, iPhone 4 and 4S owners could get their new iPhone 5 with no down payment, a savings of $100. However, they will still be obligated to pay $20 a month for 24 months to pay off the phone. (T-Mobile split device payments from service fees, which run $70 a month for unlimited talk, text and data and don't require a contract.) [See also: T-Mobile iPhone Deal Too Good to Be True? ]
The first if
The trade-in deal is available only to qualified buyers, T-Mobile said in a statement. So if your credit isn't up to snuff, you'll have to pay for the phone up-front for $580 for a 16GB model, which is still $70 cheaper than buying directly from Apple.
The trade-in offer is also a good one if your old iPhone is broken . The online reseller Gazelle, for example, offers $50 for a broken iPhone 4 and $100 for a broken 4S, so you could come out ahead if you have the older model.
Further, T-Mobile is offering an additional credit up to $120, depending on the condition of your phone. Gazelle offers $205 for an iPhone 16GB 4S in good condition and $215 for one that's in flawless condition. You could come out ahead with the T-Mobile $120 trade-in, which can be applied to the balance of $480 you'd still owe on the new phone and shorten your device payment contract from 24 to 18 months.
You can get more for an iPhone from Amazon , which currently has an offer of $305 for a black AT&T iPhone 4S 16GB in perfect condition. However,you must take the trade-in value as an Amazon gift card.
The second if
Rumor has it that Apple will release its next iPhone on June 20, which means prices on previous models will be reduced. If T-Mobile gets the new iPhone, it could replace the iPhone 5 with the new one and cut the price. If you can wait a few months, you might be able to buy the newer model for the same price.