Why It’s Smart to Buy a New iPhone Every Year

Should you buy a new iPhone every year? The math makes sense for many people

People who buy a new iPhone every year pay less than $12/month more than those who upgrade every three years – provided they trade in their old phones – and if they time it right, they can pay less than $4/month more.

Annual upgraders not only always have the latest and greatest iPhone, they’re also always covered by Apple’s one-year warranty. That’s a key benefit considering that out-of-warranty iPhone repairs can cost more than $500.

Here’s how the math works out:

  • The iPhone 12 cost $799 at launch. It’s currently worth $460 in good condition. The iPhone 13 also costs $799. If you trade in your iPhone 12, your net cost for the iPhone 13 will be $339
  • If you then buy a new iPhone every year at a net cost of $339 after trade-in, your total net cost over three years would be $1,816 (including the original $799 you paid)
  • If you wait three years instead, your iPhone 12 will only be worth around $200. Trade it in, and your net cost for the new “iPhone 15” will be $599. Add in the original $799, and your net cost over three years would be $1,398

Do the math, and you’ll see it only costs $418 more over three years – or $11.60/month – to always have the latest and greatest iPhone, covered under warranty.

Timing is everything for iPhone savings

The total net cost differences are dictated by two time-dependent factors: depreciation and iPhone trade-in values.

iPhone values depreciate by around 40% over one year, but that rate jumps to 75% over three years. Higher trade-in values after one year offset most of the savings you’d get if you waited three years to buy a new iPhone.

At the same time, values for old iPhone models drop by 15% or more after a new flagship is released. That means you should sell as soon as possible to get the most money for your used iPhone.

In fact, the iPhone 12 value dropped by 17% between Sept. 1 and Sept. 21 – from $557 to $460 after the iPhone 13 was announced. Price locks can help you avoid the rapid value loss that occurs around a new flagship launch. In this case, you could have locked in the $557 price on Sept. 1, kept your old iPhone until the new model was available, and made $97 more from the sale.

Extrapolate that difference over three years, and your net cost (including trade-in value) to upgrade every year decreases from $1,816 to $1,525 – or just $3.78/month more than it costs to upgrade every three years.


Upgrade Every 3 Years

Upgrade Every Year

Upgrade Every Year w/30-Day Price Lock

Initial iPhone Purchase




Year 1 Upgrade



Year 2 Upgrade



Year 3 Upgrade




Total Net Cost




Total Net Difference Over 3 Years



Net Difference Per Month



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