iPhone 13 launch — which iPhones will get killed?

iPhone 13 is likely coming, will the iPhone 12 mini, Pro or Pro Max — or another iPhone — not survive?
(Image credit: Apple)

As good as Apple's current iPhone lineup is — and you'll find several of the models Apple sells among the best Phones — the days are numbered for a few iPhones. Each fall, Apple introduces new models, and that means the existing lineup gets pared down. Some iPhone stick around, usually for a reduced price, but others are unceremoniously shown the door.

That's the fate awaiting some of the phones Apple currently sells in just a few months' time. That means that one or more of the current iPhones you can buy from Apple will disappear without trace. 

So which ones will it be?

Given how Apple's handled iPhone launches in the past and rumors about this fall's iPhone 13 release, we can make some pretty reasonable guesses about which iPhones may not be around for much longer. That kind of information can help influence your iPhone buying choices.

If there's a model you've been eyeing that could be on the chopping block, you'll know it's time to buy that particular model sooner rather than later. (That said, even if a particular iPhone model drops out of Apple's lineup, you might still be able to find it through a wireless carrier or a retailer.) Or, if you prefer a model that's going to stick around, you could hold off for a few months and grab it once Apple lowers the price.

Since we now have invites for the Apple event on September 14, we're likely to hear more about Apple's plans for the future of the iPhone.

iPhone lineup reshuffle: What Apple has done recently

Last fall's iPhone 12 launch saw Apple drop two phones from its lineup. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max made way for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, both of which debuted at the same $999 and $1,099 starting prices as their predecessors.

Three phones stuck around even after the iPhone 12 models arrived. The iPhone SE retained its place as the cheapest iPhone, available for $399. The iPhone 11 and iPhone XR remained, too, but saw $100 price cuts. That left the iPhone 11 at $599 and the iPhone XR at $499. The iPhone 12 lineup starts at $699, with the iPhone 12 mini.

iPhone product lineup reshuffle

(Image credit: NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Turn back the clock another year to the iPhone 11 launch, and Apple followed a similar pattern — the iPhone XS and XS Max were dropped from the lineup after a year. The iPhone XR was retained as was the iPhone 8, which has been introduced two years earlier.

So we have a clear pattern — the more expensive phones in Apple's lineup tend to get replaced by more current models. Cheaper iPhones are kept around for another year or two, often at a reduced price.

What are Apple's iPhone 13 plans?

Apple keeps its iPhone launch plans close to the vest, but the rumor mill is under no such obligation. Most Apple watchers expect the company to repeat the iPhone 12 launch strategy with this fall's iPhone 13 release — namely, four models at the same sizes and prices as their iPhone 12 counterparts.

iphone 13 pro concept

(Image credit: 4RMD)

One potential wildcard is the 5.4-inch phone. Reports claim the iPhone 12 mini has not sold well, and for a while, rumors suggested that Apple would ditch the compact design for the iPhone 13 launch. Subsequent rumors claim an iPhone 13 mini is still on track, though, and given how passionate fans of the best small phones are for easy-to-hold designs, we'll assume that there will be a mini model alongside the three other iPhone 13 options.

As noted, it's widely expected that Apple would keep the same prices for the iPhone 13 models — $699 for the mini, $799 for the standard model, and $999 as the starting point for the Pro versions. That's important to take into account, as it provides a reference point for what new prices Apple could set for its older iPhones.

iPhone 13 launch prediction: Which iPhones could stay (and go)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Current iPhonesCurrent priceWill Apple keep it?Predicted new price
iPhone 12 mini$699NoN/A
iPhone 12$799Yes$599
iPhone 12 Pro$999NoN/A
iPhone 12 Pro Max$1,099NoN/A
iPhone 11$599Yes$499
iPhone XR$499NoN/A
iPhone SE$399Yes$399

Given how Apple treated the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone X and iPhone XS Max the past two release cycles, you'd have to figure that the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are living on borrowed time. Dropping them once the iPhone 13 arrives certainly makes sense. Keeping older Pro models around at reduced prices would potentially cannibalize iPhone 13 Pro sales. Also, a $799 iPhone 13 and $999 iPhone 13 Pro doesn't really leave much of a slot to fit in an older iPhone 12 Pro model at a reduced price.

The tougher question is whether Apple keeps the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini in its lineup alongside the new iPhone 13 models. You'd think the company would keep one of those two phones around, but not both. And given the reportedly slow sales of the iPhone 12 mini, that seems like the model to drop. 

In this scenario, the iPhone 12 would stick around, but at a lower $599 price, so that it costs less than the starting price for an iPhone 13 model. Of course, that would be a $200 price cut off the iPhone 12's current cost — a bit steep, given Apple's recent history of $100 reductions for older iPhones. Still, that seems more likely than keeping two 5.4-inch models as part of the iPhone offerings.

iPhone 12 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As for the older models, it's not hard to imagine that the iPhone XR is dropped without fanfare. That phone will be celebrating its third birthday in the fall, and that's about the longest Apple likes to keep a phone around. It's also worth noting that the new digital key features planned for Wallet in iOS 15 aren't supported by the iPhone XR; you'd imagine Apple would want to only sell phones that took full advantage of its new phone software.

That leaves the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE, both of which have the advantage of running on an A13 Bionic processor. That chip is powerful enough to support all the features in iOS 15, save for the 5G performance enhancements Apple is promising as part of the update. You could see the iPhone 11 adopting the iPhone XR's current $499 price, while the iPhone SE continues to sell for $399.

Of course, none of this is set in stone, and Apple usually keeps its own counsel when it comes to setting product lineups. Still, when the iPhone 13 debuts this fall, don't be surprised to see some old favorites stick around while other phones exit the stage.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.