We’re less than six months away from the iPhone 14 release, and we think we already know what to expect from the handset. That includes a new design for the Pro models and a significant camera upgrade. Also, the iPhone mini size is going away in favor of a new iPhone 14 Max model, which implies the entry iPhone 14 price will be higher this year. However, rumors say that Apple will launch a hardware subscription program that will make it easier for buyers to get a new iPhone like the iPhone 14 series.
The iPhone 13 price structure
Before we look at the iPhone 14 price rumors and the potential hardware subscription sales model, we must remember how Apple sells the iPhone right now. And what the iPhone 13 costs.
One of the great things about the iPhone 13 is that Apple kept the iPhone 12 price structure in place. That also means that the cheapest iPhone 13 models get a $30 price cut when you buy them from Apple, and you activate them with a carrier.
- iPhone 13 mini: $729 and ($699 with carrier deals)
- iPhone 13: $829 ($799 with carrier deals)
- iPhone 13 Pro: $999
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: $1,099
Apple will reportedly ditch the mini size this year, replacing it with a cheaper version of the Pro Max size. As a result, the most affordable iPhone 14 will cost at least $829 ($799 with carrier deals). That’s assuming Apple keeps the iPhone 13 prices in place for one more season, regardless of whether the hardware upgrade program launches this year.
Wait, doesn’t Apple have an upgrade program?
The iPhone Upgrade Program is Apple’s current “subscription” plan that lets you pay for new iPhones in monthly installments. The handset is bundled with Apple Care+, and the cost is spread over 24 months. But after 12 payments, you can turn in the handset and upgrade to the new iPhone. You’ll then continue paying monthly for that model for 24 months or another 12 months before getting the latest model.
Here’s the current pricing structure for the iPhone 13 under the Upgrade Program:
- iPhone 13 mini: $35.33/month
- iPhone 13: $39.50/month
- iPhone 13 Pro: $49.91/month
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: $54.08/month
The main thing to remember here is that under the Upgrade Program, you get to own the handset after 24 months. The hardware subscription that might launch alongside the iPhone 14 series will likely be an entirely different thing. You will be leasing the handset for 12 months. Rather than owning it at the end of the payment program, you’ll move to the next generation.
How much will the iPhone 14 cost?
A rumor in mid-January said that Apple is planning to raise the iPhone 14 price compared to last year. We’re looking at the following structure; according to that report:
- iPhone 14: $799
- iPhone 14 Max: $899
- iPhone 14 Pro: $1,099
- iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,199
The list doesn’t include any carrier deals that Apple might offer buyers. But not all four prices would be $100 more expensive than the iPhone 13 series. Or, put differently, it’s not exactly a fair comparison. The $799 iPhone 14 would have the same price as the $799 iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 is the natural successor of the iPhone 13, not the iPhone 13 mini.
Also, the iPhone 14 Max doesn’t have a predecessor. It’s only expected for the larger model to cost more than the base iPhone 14. But if the price structure above is accurate, the Pros will both cost more than their predecessors.
With that in mind, a hardware subscription model would make even more sense for the iPhone 14 series.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman mentioned the iPhone subscription service a few weeks ago. He then covered the hardware subscription plan in a new Power On edition a few days ago where he explained why Apple would want to introduce this sort of subscription service.
What will the iPhone 14 cost under the hardware subscription plan?
Apple aims to make more money off of iPhone users by allowing them to rent an iPhone model for one full year before moving on to the next. That’s because the average iPhone user upgrades once every three years. But with a hardware subscription, they’ll be paying a low monthly fee for leasing the handset and upgrading it every year.
Citing a report from Counterpoint Research, the average iPhone sales price is about $825. That’s how much Apple would generate from a typical iPhone owner every three years. But with a subscription program, Apple could boost that figure.
Gurman simulated leasing the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max under such a program for three years. Here’s how much money Apple would make with the subscription:
- iPhone 13 ($35/month): $1,260 over three years instead of $799
- iPhone 13 Pro ($45/month): $1,620 instead of $999
- iPhone 13 Pro Max ($50/month): $1,800 instead of $1,099
What’s important to remember is that the buyer would not be stuck with the iPhone 13 for three years. You’d get the iPhone 14 and then the iPhone 15 with the hardware subscription program. If Apple is about to offer hardware subscription payments to buyers, starting with the iPhone 14 series might make more sense.
The price points are not official, and they’re only Gurman’s estimates. You’ll also note that they’re similar to what Apple charges under the Upgrade Program.
Will the hardware subscription program be worth it?
Apple could come up with all sorts of deals that would bundle the iPhone with some services. Getting AppleCare and Apple One alongside the iPhone will be a no-brainer for many buyers.
Moreover, Apple could sell the refurbished one-year-old iPhones to buyers who want cheaper handsets. It’s a win-win for Apple. It would also be a win for buyers who want the newest iPhone model but don’t want to deal with expensive one-time payments.
All of this is speculation, however. The only sure thing is that the iPhone 14 series comes this fall. As for the hardware subscription program, we have no idea when Apple will unveil it.
More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.