Technology

No, The iPhone 12 Doesn’t Actually Cost $799

You might think the iPhone 12 starts at one dollar under $800. You might even have a distinct memory of seeing a price that looked suspiciously like $799 during the Apple special event yesterday.

And you’d be right on one of those two beliefs (the latter.)

During the Apple event, Apple portrayed the price of the iPhone 12 as $799. Or, to be precise, “from $799.” Typically, what that means in Apple event lingo is that the base 64GB model is available for $800 and other models with more on-board storage cost more.

And that’s mostly what it means. But not totally.

Because a base-model iPhone 12 is not actually $799 unless you buy it with a carrier plan from AT&T or Verizon. If you choose SIM-free for an unlocked phone that you can take to any carrier you want at any time, you’ll pay just a little bit more.

$30 more, to be exact, as you can verify yourself by trying to configure an iPhone 12 for pre-order on Apple’s website.

In practice, this means very little for most of us. Most of us are going to buy our phones from our carriers, or if we buy them from Apple, we’re going to attach them to our existing carrier … which is likely to be one of the two that Apple is offering on its preorder and purchasing site.

But for some, it’s extra.

(Especially if your carrier is Sprint or T-Mobile, which do not qualify for the $30 discount.)

And for all, it’s a little bit of misdirection from Apple on the true cost of the phone. Looking at the fine print on Apple’s page reveals the truth, and highlights the reason you should sometimes actually read the details:

“Price includes a $30 AT&T or Verizon discount. Requires activation with carrier.”

For a company that prides itself on simplicity and clarity, a little more simplicity and clarity in pricing would be appropriate. Not to mention forthrightness.

I suppose one positive is that if you use your Apple Card and happen to use Verizon or AT&T, you can actually get $54.87 off your $829 iPhone 12, given that when you use Apple Card to buy Apple products, you get 3% cash back.

That brings your potential price down to $774.13. Which is, I guess, better than $799.

But it does come with a few caveats.