Which iPhone is right for you this Black Friday?

iPhone 13 deals
(Image credit: Future)

The season of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals often include plenty of gadgets, which often get discounted by device manufacturers themselves. But one of the biggest names in phones, Apple, is rarely generous with its discounts this time of year – so we’ve put together a guide on what iPhone you should look for on Black Friday to get the best savings.

We’ll also clarify which iPhones you won’t be seeing heavily discounted. Don’t expect to see any significant price drops on the new iPhone 13 models, especially from Apple itself, which rarely participates in deals seasons. If there are any slight Black Friday deals on the latest iPhones, they’ll be from online retailers or carriers.

But to make room for the new phones, expect to see some Black Friday iPhone deals on last year’s flagships and older models. Given the small number of changes from the iPhone 12 line, we still recommend them as alternatives if the newest Apple phones are out of your budget. 

That goes for the iPhone 11, too – though they don’t have MagSafe or the neat flat-edged design of the newer iPhones, they’re still good quality, with ultra-wide cameras and enhanced night photography over their predecessors.

That leaves the iPhone XS, iPhone X, and iPhone XR, which are both still respectable given their full-screen designs and upgrades to iOS 15. If you want to stay with the iPhone 8 or iPhone SE and their home button with Touch ID, there will be plenty of deals on those handsets, too.

Here’s our advice on what iPhone you should look for on Black Friday, and what to expect at each level.

Black Friday iPhone 13 deals: what you should expect

iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As stated above, we don’t expect the iPhone 13 line to be discounted much at all during the Black Friday season. Given the phones launched in September, we expect Apple to keep them at full price. 

That said, some online retailers may offer slight discounts on the iPhone 13 line – we’d expect 5% to 10% off the list prices. Given the cheapest model in the range, the iPhone 13 mini, starts at $699 / £679 / AU$1,199, we could expect a 5% cut would knock around $35 / £26 / AU$48 off. It’s better than nothing, but we wouldn’t expect much more during Black Friday.

Carriers are another story, and regularly embrace deals seasons. They may augment their trade-in deals with a bit higher discounts over Black Friday, and we’d expect those to reach peak value on the day of and through Cyber Monday – but they’ll probably explain their offers ahead of time with dates when the deals kick in, so expect to have plenty of notice on what they’re offering. 

Keep in mind that these discounts may combine with price cuts when trading in an old phone, so take note of which deal conditions stack up to get the best price.

Black Friday iPhone 12 deals: what you should expect

iPhone 12

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Here’s where the deals really kick off. When Apple launched the iPhone 13 line in September, they immediately discounted the iPhone 12 range by $100 / £120 / AU$150, and we expect the prices to drop even more on Black Friday. Not on Apple’s website, of course, but retailers and carriers may introduce their own discounts.

These Black Friday iPhone 12 deals should be more substantial than those on the newest Apple phones. We wouldn’t expect these to get as heavily discounted as flagship Androids during Black Friday, but it should be a much-needed price drop – especially for those trying to decide between iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12.

There’s not much difference between the two, but the newer iPhone 13 has a smaller selfie camera notch, a higher maximum brightness in the display, slightly improved camera hardware and software, and slightly better specs with larger baseline storage capacity, as well as a noticeably larger 3,240mAh battery over the iPhone 12’s 2,815mAh capacity one. 

We expect Black Friday iPhone 12 deals from retailers and carriers, especially with the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max – both of which are no longer officially sold by Apple, which only keeps the latest extra-small and extra-large models in its official lineup. That means you’ll see them sold only by retailers and carriers, and probably at a discount. Expect around 10% discounts on current list prices, but not much better, as Apple phones still command a premium.

Black Friday iPhone 11 deals: what you should expect

iPhone 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 11 range has had two notable price drops in as many years as it’s been superseded by newer iPhones. You can still buy the standard model from Apple, and for good reason: it’s still powerful and has big upgrades on its predecessors, including an ultra-wide camera and much-improved night photography. (The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are only sold by carriers and retailers.)

The standard iPhone 11 now costs $499 / £489 / AU$849, which is $200 / £240 / AU$350 lower than its launch price, but expect higher than 10% off discounts for Black Friday. 

Note the differences in iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 11. If you opt for the latter, you’ll miss out on the flat-edged redesign that makes the phone pack the same-size 6.1-inch display in smaller dimensions, an OLED display, the MagSafe wireless charging and magnetic accessory mount, slightly better specs, and night mode in all three cameras (including the selfie shooter). It’s not a monumental difference, but important to consider what you’re trading for value.

Black Friday iPhone SE, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and other iPhone deals

iPhone SE 2020

(Image credit: Future)

The remaining iPhones will all likely see good discounts during Black Friday, including popular handsets like the iPhone SE 2020, iPhone XR, and others. These aren’t the most advanced Apple handsets, but they’ll still serve as great phones – and should see big discounts during Black Friday.

Just note that older iPhones may not have many more years of software upgrades left. Apple has generously included the 2016 iPhone 6S as its oldest model getting iOS 15, but we have no idea if it will get iOS 16 next year. There’s no telling which phone Apple will set as the cutoff model, but we’re reasonably confident than the 2017 iPhone 7 and newer phones will get new versions of iOS for years to come.

That said, if you wanted to be safe, opt for the iPhone SE 2020 or the iPhone XR for your affordable phone choice. Curiously, we still see the iPhone XS and iPhone X priced high, but all should get decent Black Friday discounts. That leaves the iPhone 8 as the reliable middle-of-the-road, which should get discounted well – but if you want to future-proof your affordable Apple phone choice, we recommend the iPhone SE 2020.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.