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The Best Way to Buy an iPhone in Canada

Need a new iPhone but don't want to shell out a thousand dollars for it? Here are some tips to help you save.

You may be thinking: Buying an iPhone is easy. You wait for the newest version to come out, visit your mobile service provider, pay the down payment fees for the phone, and sign a contract for a new service plan. Simple, right? It is – if you don’t mind spending thousands on new phones every year or so. 


And since we here at Ratehub want you to choose better –and, in this case, that means making more prudent financial decisions with your cell phone budget—we’ve thought of some more creative ways to purchase an iPhone in Canada that’ll allow you to have the phone you want while keeping more money in your pocket.


The true cost of an iPhone


Apple has released a whopping 29 different iPhones since 2007. And while the cost of each one at its time of release is a hard figure to pin down, let’s take a look at Apple’s current roster, what they cost, and play around with some numbers. 


Taking a look at my current cell service provider, I see they currently offer seven different iPhones: iPhone SE, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. 


Their costs vary -- ranging from $615 for the iPhone SE to $1,596 for the 12 Pro Max for the device outright (meaning the cost you’d have to pay up-front if you don’t sign up for a two-year plan and pay it off monthly), not including tax. 


The average cost of all these phones is $1,059. So, assuming this is the average cost for each new iPhone, you’d have spent a whopping $30,711 on new phones, had you decided to purchase each one when they were released. 


Of course, our numbers aren’t entirely accurate, since Apple has released some discount versions of their phones, but it gives us something to work with. Even if you cut that number in half, it’s a staggering amount of money to spend on new phones. 


How to save money when buying an iPhone


The first, and the most obvious, thing you can do to save money on your iPhone budget is to avoid buying each new model as it comes out. (And, we can be honest here: Apple makes such minor improvements on its devices from generation to generation that you won’t be missing out on much if you skip a few releases.)


Another thing you can do is to buy used or refurbished. 


Personally, I like to treat a device like a car: Buy one used and hold onto it until it’s completely unusable (or un-drivable). 


Check places like Kijiji to see if anyone is looking to sell their iPhone (in many cases, some will be brand new, sealed, and still in the box). Do note, though, that buying off an online marketplace like Kijiji or Craigslist means your phone likely won’t come with a warranty.


There are cell phone websites in Canada that offer gently used or refurbished phones as well. They’re cheaper than brand new devices and often come with a warranty.

Alternative websites to buy a cheaper iPhone in Canada, for example, currently has an iPhone XR for sale for $499. That’s a savings of $211 compared to what my service provider is charging for a brand new XR ($720).


Some other websites to check out for used or refurbished phones are: has a unique process where you can trade in your old phone for a refurbished one. You still get the iPhone upgrade, but you’re saving quite a bit of money. They have a process online to tell you how much your old phone is worth. 


In fact, Apple now has their own trade-in program. So, if you have an old iPhone you’re looking at upgrading, be sure to see what you can get towards your new phone, before buying a new one outright. 


The best way to buy a new iPhone in Canada


If you’re dead-set on purchasing new, you can save up for a new phone and pay with cash instead of credit to make sure you don’t end up paying interest. As a bonus, keep that cash in a high interest savings account so that it makes some interest for you as well. 


There are times when paying with a credit card can make sense, though. 


If you have the cash to pay it off right away, using a points credit card (such as a cash back credit card or travel credit card) allows you to earn a little extra when making your purchase.


For instance, you could use the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card, which can earn you $511 (based on a monthly spend of $2,500) or over halfway to a new iPhone. You can use all that cash back towards the purchase and now the $1,596 iPhone is only $1,085. Of course, there is a $120 annual fee for this card. 


The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card is currently waiving their $120 annual fee and after it’ll net you $470 back per year. 

Buy an older iPhone to save big


Another way to save money is to purchase an older model. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, will run you $1,596 brand new; the iPhone 11 costs $875. That’s a significant cost savings of $721. 


Finally, you can sell off your old device to help you fund your new phone purchase. Again, websites like Kijiji are a great place to do that; so is Facebook Marketplace. 


While you’ll never recoup the full cost of your phone when selling it, a couple of hundred bucks will definitely help soften the blow of purchasing your next device.  You’ll make more selling your phone independently, but you have to deal with the buyers too. That’s why the third-party sites we mentioned earlier may be a good fit for you. 


The do’s and don’ts of buying an iPhone in Canada


  • Shop around for the best price
  • Consider buying used or refurbished
  • Consider buying an older generation phone
  • Make sure you can afford the new phone
  • Try not to be tempted to buy each new phone as it comes out
  • Save up for a new phone


  • Buy a cell phone on a credit card (unless you can pay it off before interest is accrued)
  • Be tempted to sign up for a new cell phone plan just for the new phone (assuming the new plan costs more than your old one)
  • Spend more than you can afford on a cell phone. Take care of your bills first; make sure you have an emergency fund, etc.

The bottom line


I hope this article isn't too preachy. At the end of the day, it’s your money and you can do with it what you please. But, thinking creatively when it comes time for a new cell phone will save you hundreds –if not thousands—of dollars in phone costs over the course of your life.