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Each year, the arrival of a new iPhone lineup brings with it a shuffling of Apple’s older models, a few of which stay in the lineup to provide iPhone buyers with more affordable options. While Apple’s strategy for this has become pretty standard, this year brought one extra surprise with it: the elimination of the 256GB iPhone SE.
Apple’s most wallet-friendly iPhone is barely a year old, and while there’s no indication that Apple plans to phase out the iPhone SE anytime soon, it’s clearly decided that budget-conscious iPhone buyers don’t need a lot of storage.
Last year, Apple continued selling the iPhone XR and 6.1-inch iPhone 11 starting at $499 and $599, respectively, and this year it’s continued that trend by moving the iPhone 11 down to the $499 price point, but in the process, it’s also eliminated the 256GB storage option for that model as well.
Surprisingly, despite reports that Apple had already shut down production on the iPhone 12 mini, it appears that it has not killed off the older 5.4-inch model, which now fills in the $599 price slot that was previously occupied by the 6.1-inch iPhone 11.
Instead, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 comes in at the same $699 price as the just-released 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, although the new model does offer twice the storage at that price — 128GB vs 64GB.
Meanwhile, the 2020 iPhone SE continues to sell for $399 for a basic 64GB model, or $449 for the 128GB version. However, the 256GB version, which previously sold for an extra $100 premium, at $549, is no more.
This means that users who want a 256GB iPhone will be paying a lot more than they did last week. The most affordable 256GB model that Apple still sells would be the iPhone 12 mini, at $749. That’s $200 more than the now-discontinued 256GB iPhone SE.
Notably, though, that’s also only $50 less than the 256GB iPhone 13 mini, since that’s now the middle tier on the new iPhone 13 lineup. In fact, the 256GB iPhone 13 mini actually comes in $50 cheaper than the equivalent 6.1-inch iPhone 12.
2021 iPhone Pricing
To summarize, here’s the breakdown of options and storage capacities for the 2021 lineup of iPhones:
|iPhone 12 mini||$599||$649||$749||–|
|iPhone 13 mini||–||$699||$799||$999|
As you can see from the chart above, even though Apple doubled the storage capacities of the standard iPhone 13 models this year, it’s also doubled the price spread between each of the capacities compared to last year’s models.
To be fair, this does work out to about the same per-gigabyte difference, as Apple’s rule of thumb seems to be to charge a $50 premium for each additional 64GB of capacity. If anything, the new 1TB iPhone 13 Pro is the exception to this rule, since it still only sells for $200 more than the 512GB version, but it’s also fair to say that Apple knows that charging a $400 premium would have been asking too much.
However, this also effectively puts the highest-end 512GB versions of the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 at the same price as the entry-level 128GB iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, respectively. This is the first time we’ve seen prices meet up like this since the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were released back in 2017, when the 256GB iPhone 8 actually sold for $50 more than the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus.
iPhone 13 Pro Pricing
While the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max now have an additional 1TB storage, Apple hasn’t changed the prices of the standard three base storage capacities, which still start at 128GB.
|iPhone 13 Pro||$999||$1,099||$1,299||$1,499|
|iPhone 13 Pro Max||$1,099||$1,199||$1,399||$1,599|
What’s the Best Deal?
In other words, your money will go farther this year if you’re buying an iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini, since you’re getting twice as much storage for around the same price.
Those considering the iPhone 13 Pro models will be paying the same money for the same storage tiers as last year, although of course you’ll still be getting longer battery life and better cameras.
On the other hand, those looking for a high-capacity budget iPhone may want to snatch up one of the last remaining 256GB iPhone SE or iPhone 11 units before they’re all gone.