It used to be heresy to suggest buying that shiny new iPhone in October. It is, after all, almost a full month before the traditional Black Friday iPhone deals land and offer up what’s supposedly the best chance all year to score a bargain.
Delivery delays, back-order backlogs, and general stock issues, however, have plagued the new flagships since launch. It’s left me questioning – is it actually worth waiting until Black Friday to get an iPhone 13?
The iPhone 13 family has had no shortage of fantastic deals already, and those backorder queues just seem to be getting longer with no signs of letting up. Maybe you should settle instead of braving a multiple month-long wait until you finally get your hands on that new upgrade.
Especially when several recent reports have suggested that Apple’s starting to feel the squeeze in the global chip shortage. No one can hide from the fact – that’s bad news if you don’t have that iPhone 13 yet.
What normally happens
Cell phone deals in general have traditionally revolved around launch events (like this week’s Google Pixel 6 deals) and big sales events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday – with the exception of the odd sale or two from the likes of Amazon or Best Buy.
It used to be the case, especially with iPhones, that lining up your upgrade with a launch window or Black Friday would be your best bet for securing a decent deal. In all truth, I expect this to be the case again when things return to normal. However, certain market factors and reports have led me to believe this year’s Black Friday iPhone deals may be disrupted, or at least in shorter supply.
The issue: chip shortages
The ongoing global chip and supply chain crisis isn’t exactly breaking news – it’s been widely reported on and discussed openly for several months now. In fact, it’s positively old news for any who have braved the queues over the past year to attempt to secure a coveted PS5 or one of the latest graphics cards.
Phones, so far, have been one category of tech that’s largely escaped the indignity of bare shelves and backorders. That could be set to change in the following months if recent reports are anything to go by, however.
Last week, Bloomberg broke the news that Apple is set to cut iPhone 13 production numbers by upwards of 11 percent. The company was set to manufacture 90 million handsets by the end of 2021, but according to ‘people with knowledge of the matter’ that figure has now been slashed by as many as 10 million.
Apple didn’t comment on the news. However, it did state earlier in the year that it would ‘would face supply constraints of the iPhone and iPad during the quarter that ended in September’. It’s worth noting that’s the period directly before Black Friday. If demand goes up over the next month (as we’d expect), then we could be seeing some very lengthy wait times for delivery indeed.
And, we’ve already seen the iPhone 13 on backorder at Verizon and many local Apple stores nationwide. The iPhone 13 Pro Max in particular is looking at an estimated delivery date of December 3rd via Verizon right now and November 26th via the official Apple store. Unless a large number of devices are somehow delivered by surprise it seems prudent to expect that delivery date to stretch out further from here onwards.
But, will I miss out on deals if I buy early?
Tough question. The short answer is yes. The long answer is, yes, but this year’s Black Friday iPhone deals might not be much to shout about anyway.
Back in 2020, when the iPhone 12 was fresh off the presses, in good stock, and in high demand, carrier Black Friday deals weren’t actually that great. Verizon and AT&T’s maximum saving of up to $700 with a trade-in was essentially the same deal that was offered with a pre-order when these devices were first launched.
This week’s iPhone 13 deals are actually better than what was served up on the iPhone 12 last year if you’re considering the overall amount of savings on offer.
Both AT&T and Verizon, for example, are offering up to $800 off with a trade-in on the standard iPhone 13 (up to $1,000 off on the Pro), and Apple’s maximum trade-in rebate of up to $790 is actually the highest we’ve ever seen from the retailer.
The kicker here is these deals aren’t quite as good as those offered at the initial launch back in September. Existing Verizon customers, for example, could keep their line at launch and simply upgrade for free with an eligible trade-in. Right now you can only get $440 off as an upgrade.
It’s hard to say whether ‘big upgrade’ deals will be back on the iPhone 13 over Black Friday. We hope so, but again it’s doesn’t seem wise to pin hopes down when the devices themselves may be in short supply.
The bottom line
If you want to be safe and get your device this side of 2022, then it’s probably wise to consider beating out the crowds to secure your device by Black Friday. We would advocate at least investigating the excellent range of deals available right now, especially on the more popular 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max models. It’s generally a safe bet that trade-in rebates won’t get too much higher than they are right now – especially if you’re picking up a device on a new line.
If you’re after an iPhone 13 mini, however, then you might be able to get away with holding out until Black Friday. This device is the least popular of the four new models and seems to be the least likely to sell out over November. This one’s definitely in the ‘wait and see’ territory and could potentially be worth holding out for. Either way, it’s wise to keep an eye on those estimated delivery dates at leading retailers right now.