There are some iPhone 14 rumors that come along that you're eager to see happen, and others that make you shrug your shoulders. But every now again, a rumor about Apple's future phones emerges that you hope won't happen — not just because it's something you don't want to see on an iPhone, but because you can only imagine that if it does come true, it will be a disaster for everyone involved.
And that's how I feel about reports that iPhone 14 Pro prices are going to climb up when the new devices arrive later this year — it would be bad news for consumers, certainly, but bad news for Apple as well.
What the iPhone 14 could cost
In case you missed it, earlier this month, a leaker by the name of @Shadow_Leak (opens in new tab) took to Twitter to post alleged iPhone 14 Pro specs. Most of the specs were pretty run-of-the-mill, reiterating what we've already heard about the iPhone 14 Pro — it'll supposedly have a 6.1-inch screen, A16 Bionic chip and a 48MP main camera.
iPhone 14 Pro Specifications• 6.06" Flexible OLED Screen,120Hz• LTPO• (2532×1170) Resolution & 460 PPI• A16 Bionic (4nm TSMC)• 6GB LPDDR5 RAM• 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB Storage• 48MP(F/1.3)+12MP+12MP Rear• Pill-shaped Notch• Titanium Alloy Frame6GB+128GB: $1099 May 6, 2022
But there's another detail in that list that's less welcome. @Shadow_Leak claims the new phone will cost $1,099, a $100 premium over what the iPhone 13 Pro goes for. That would put the iPhone 14 Pro Max's starting price at $1,199. And @Shadow_Leak isn't the only rumor monger making this claim about rising iPhone 14 Pro prices.
Don't expect much relief from the lower-cost iPhones, if rumored pricing pans out. Yes, the standard iPhone 14 is expected to retain the $799 price of the iPhone 13. But with an iPhone 14 Max reportedly replacing the iPhone 13 mini in Apple's fall phone lineup, the new larger 6/7-inch device is likely to come in at $899. So your days of getting a brand new iPhone for $699 are likely numbered.
The problem with iPhone price hikes
Should iPhone prices go up in the fall, it's likely not a decision Apple has that much control over. Ongoing chip shortages are driving up prices — leading chip makers Samsung and TSMC have either hiked prices or are about to (opens in new tab). Phone makers like Apple either have to absorb the higher cost of the parts they need for their phones or they pass along the cost to shoppers.
The problem is, prices are rising on just about everything — notably food and gas. And those are just a bit more vital to day-to-day lives than upgrading to the latest and greatest phone.
At least the iPhone 14 Pro models are expected to get enough substantial improvements to make the rumored higher prices a little more palatable. Besides the A16 processor upgrade and the likely camera improvement, the Pro models could be the first notch-free flagship iPhones since 2017, as Apple could implement a pair of dual cutouts to house the front camera and Face ID sensors. Still with money tighter all around, it could be harder to justify buying a more expensive Pro model, no matter what kind of improvements Apple makes.
How Apple's fighting price fatigue
Apple has taken steps in recent years to combat its image as the device maker that only offers pricey products. For example, it keeps older iPhones in its product lineup at marked-down prices for people who balk at paying full price for a new phone.
Because Apple's A series chipsets deliver such a performance premium over the competition, buying last year's phone at a discount doesn't require huge tradeoffs, and Apple's generous software update policy means you'll be able to upgrade to the latest iOS version for years to come.
If you use an Apple Card to buy your new iPhone, you can pay off your purchase in interest-free monthly installments. That doesn't lower the total amount you're paying for an iPhone, but it does spread out the cost over time so that four-figure iPhone Pro Max price tag doesn't sting as much.
And like a lot of device makers, Apple has instituted a trade-in program where you can reduce the cost of your new phone purchase by trading in an older model. Buy any iPhone 13 these days, and you can get up to $700 off your purchase with a trade-in. It takes a fairly new phone to get that big of a rebate, but even a 4-year-old iPhone can fetch you a discount between $210 and $270 off your iPhone 13 purchase.
iPhone 14 price outlook
All of those efforts — discounted older models, interest-free instllment payments and rebates from trade-ins — are likely to stick around this fall when the iPhone 14 arrives. And they'll certainly help with the cost of the new models whether Apple raises prices or not.
Still, I hope Apple finds a way to hold the line on iPhone 14 prices, keeping them at iPhone 13 levels. Yes, Apple needs to turn a profit on the hardware it sells, but it also needs to read the room. Money's tight all around right now, and the better job Apple does of recognizing that with its iPhone 14 pricing, the more customer goodwill it's likely to generate.