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Whatever you do, don’t buy a ridiculous Fortnite iPhone for thousands of dollars

Updated Aug 26th, 2020 7:11AM EDT
iPhone Fortnite
Image: Epic Games

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  • iPhones with the Fortnite game preinstalled have been put on sale for thousands of dollars on eBay since Apple removed it from the App Store. 
  • Epic Games has already lost a crucial battle against Apple in courts, with a judge siding with Apple on the company’s right to punish Epic for the way it handled its contractual obligations.
  • Epic will either have to update the app or risk losing its Apple developer account entirely.
  • Whatever happens, you shouldn’t buy a second-hand iPhone off of eBay for thousands of dollars just because it comes with the game preinstalled.

When Epic Games silently updated its Fortnite game on iPhone and Android in mid-August with its payments option, it knew exactly what it was doing. It was baiting Apple to take the kind of retaliatory measures it would have employed against other developers breaking the App Store rules. Apple did exactly that; it banned the game from the App Store and gave Epic two weeks to fix it or risk having its developer account banned from the App Store. Epic expected the initial ban and had a few moves ready. It sued Apple immediately after that and released an anti-Apple commercial to sway the public opinion. But we only learned a few days later that Apple had threatened the complete removal of all of Epic’s developer accounts, including the Epic entity that manages the Unreal Engine resources. From the look of Epic’s response to that, it seems that the Fortnite creator did not foresee that move. Apple beat Epic in court on Monday on the Fortnite front but lost the Unreal Engine side of the argument.

That said, whatever you do right now, do not spend thousands of dollars on a second-hand iPhone that has Fortnite installed. You may end up on the losing side of that deal come this Friday.

The judge presiding over the case made it clear to Epic that its Fortnite predicament is of its own doing, and it can be quickly resolved if Epic fixes the app and removes its payment method. Otherwise, Apple is to move forward with the ban of Epic’s developer account that manages the Fortnite app.

When Apple banned Fortnite a few weeks ago, it just removed the app from the App Store. Anyone who had the app installed on their phones and anyone who downloaded it in the past could still access dit and use it. As Epic made it clear, iPhone (and Android) users now risk not getting access to the latest season.

That’s why some people have put their iPhones up for sale on eBay. Take the following listing, for example. At the time of this writing, it had a going price of $6,400, 40 bids, and 138 watchers. Avoid these devices like they come with a dose of the novel coronavirus.

Fortnite iPhone Sale
An eBay auction for a second-hand iPhone with Fortnite preinstalled has 40 bids that drove the price up to $6,400 as of August 26th. Image source: eBay

Apple gave Epic time until August 28th to fix its problem, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. If Epic caves on the matter, which it hadn’t defended in court, then Apple will restore the regular version of Fortnite to the App Store, and the game will be available to everybody. Apple’s comments on the ruling already indicate that it’s more than willing to allow the app back into the App Store:

We thank the court for recognizing that Epic’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve. Our very first priority is making sure App Store users have a great experience in a safe and trusted environment, including iPhone users who play Fortnite and who are looking forward to the game’s next season.

We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that ‘the sensible way to proceed’ is for Epic to comply with the ‌App Store‌ guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds. If Epic takes the steps the judge has recommended, we will gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS. We look forward to making our case to the court in September.

If that happens, you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for an old iPhone with Fortnite preinstalled.

If Apple ends up removing Epic’s developer account entirely, it won’t matter whether you have Fortnite installed. In such a case, an old iPhone with Fortnite preinstalled won’t help either.

Even if Apple waits until the next phase of the trial, which will take place in late September, you should avoid these eBay listings. Just wait until Friday, and see what happens.

You could pay a lot less than that for a new device that does run the game, whether it’s a PC or Mac, or one of the three consoles. And if you want to play the game on mobile, a new Android phone that can sideload the app is the cheaper way to go. Although that’s an option, we’d never recommend it.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.