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Buying the new iPhone 13? A new survey says picking the wrong model could cost you a bunch of money

Protecting your investment might cost extra, but it could pay off if the unthinkable happens

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Photo (c) MikeSchianoPhotography - Getty Images
So, about that new Apple iPhone 13 … is it worth its salt? Apparently, millions of Americans think it probably is. According to the personal finance website WalletHub’s new 2021 iPhone Survey, 29% of Americans plan to buy the newest model. But are consumers going headlong into purchasing one without considering all the variations in cost? 

Crunching the numbers

To find out how consumers could get a better deal on the iPhone 13, WalletHub created a calculator to crunch those numbers and found that people can save $933 - $1,935 over two years just by picking the right plan. Its findings include:

  • Going with a no-contract individual plan from Visible is the best way to get the new iPhone, beating plans from all three major carriers, if the calculator’s correct.

  • If you’re willing to keep your old phone, you could wind up saving even more. According to WalletHub, an individual consumer can save up to $1,720 and families can save up to $2,723 going this route.

  • Staying one generation back can cut the financial burden, too.

“Upgrading your phone every year used to be more important when the changes between models were significant, but now the differences are much smaller, so getting an older phone is worthwhile,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told ConsumerAffairs.

“Buying a phone that’s a generation behind can cut your price in half while giving you almost as good of a user experience as the latest version. Other ways to save money include buying used, good-condition phones or looking for carrier discounts.”

Protecting your iPhone investment

The new iPhone isn’t cheap, but what tricked-out phones are these days? When someone buys a new phone, it’s commonplace for the salesperson to offer an extended warranty — in Apple’s case, AppleCare.

For the iPhone, AppleCare+ extends your warranty coverage from one year to two and phone and chat support from 90 days to the full two years as well. But is it worth it?

For the lucky ones who never have a problem with their phone, an extended warranty might be throwing good money after bad, but that’s really a crapshoot. According to a recent survey by Allstate Protection Plans, 140 million Americans have damaged a smartphone at some point in their lives, with 87 million having a mishap in the past 12 months. An earlier study from AT&T found that Americans damage two smartphone screens every single second. Whew.

For the unlucky ones, buying AppleCare is worth the investment, but it may come with unexpected fees. Take Stacy of Marlinton, West Virginia, for example. “My son broke his device and my cell phone plan includes AppleCare. I was happy to hear this as I was unaware it was included in my plan,” she wrote in a review of the protection plan on ConsumerAffairs. 

“I was transferred to Apple Care to get my son's device taken care of. And a replacement on the way. This all happened a week before Christmas. They set everything up and told me I would get an email for payment. I assumed I would have to pay a deductible of some sort and was prepared for that. When I opened the email it said that in order to process the claim I would have to pay $500!! Part of that being a deposit to make sure that the old device was returned.”

Whether it’s a new phone or a new computer, extended warranties for electronics gear are probably worth considering. For iPhones, Macworld has produced a thorough review of what’s covered and what’s not. In addition, ConsumerAffairs has also created a guide to extended warranties for all electronics, not just iPhones.

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