Apple's new iPhone SE is up for pre-order: here's where and the best deals available today
Criticized for a long time for putting profit margins ahead of the user experience and not caring about consumers on tight budgets, Apple is finally giving the masses what they want... and blowing the mid-range Android competition out of the water in this process.
Yes, 2020's iPhone SE looks pretty much identical to 2017's iPhone 8 on the outside, and the latter 4.7-inch handset wasn't exactly a head-turner back in its day either. But appearances can be deceiving, and when you (metaphorically) pop the hood of the second-gen iPhone SE, you'll find a state-of-the-art Apple A13 Bionic chipset inside that beats even Qualcomm's newest flagship SoC in raw speed, at least according to a few of the world's most popular benchmarking tools.
Synthetic benchmarks aside, you can expect the upgraded iPhone SE to completely overwhelm any and all Android handsets in its price bracket right now as far as real-life performance is concerned. On top of that, the A13 processor makes the single 12MP rear-facing camera capable of things you may have previously deemed impossible at $400, like "next-generation" Smart HDR for photos and 4K video recording at up to 60fps.
Long story short, this might be the all-around best mobile device 400 bucks can buy right now, and Google is unlikely to change that with the fast-approaching Pixel 4a. Formally unveiled just a couple of days ago, the iPhone SE (2020) is already up for pre-order ahead of an actual US commercial release on April 24, and believe it or not, you can even get a number of cool discounts from several carriers and authorized retailers.
Unsurprisingly, the Cupertino-based tech giant does not offer any sort of an introductory deal, charging $399 for the entry-level 64GB configuration of the new iPhone SE, as well as $449 for a 128 gig variant and $549 if you need as much as 256 gigs of local digital hoarding room.
You can, however, trade in an old iPhone and lower those prices to $229... or even less than that. A mint-condition iPhone 8 Plus, for instance, is valued at $250 by Apple, while the iPhone 8 and 7 Plus can hook you up with $170 and $150 respectively in iPhone SE savings.
For the time being, Best Buy isn't offering any special deals on Apple's hot new budget soldier, simply bundling the handset with a $50 e-gift card, like all other phones with carrier plans available from this particular retailer. Curiously enough, the unlocked variant of the iPhone SE (2020) is not up for grabs from Best Buy just yet.
Now we're getting somewhere. Walmart has both unlocked and carrier-specific iPhone SE models up for pre-order online right now, letting you save a cool 200 bucks with a monthly installment plan on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. That means you can pay as little as $200 all in all for this compact bad boy without trading anything in, although it's important to keep in mind the AT&T and Verizon-specific deals are only available for upgrading customers.
Yes, ladies and gents, the nation's second-largest wireless service provider can do even better than Walmart, selling the second-gen iPhone SE for $150 overall after 30 monthly payments of 5 bucks a pop. All you need is said installment plan and "eligible" unlimited service. Oh, and similar discounts apply to 128 and 256GB variants too, which can be had at $10 and $15 a month respectively after bill credits
While the "Un-carrier" is unable to match Ma Bell's killer no-trade installment deals, ditching the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, or 8 Plus in favor of the SE will bring its price down to $0. Now that's what we call a bargain! Magenta can also shave $300 off the $400 and up MSRP of the new iPhone SE when you trade in a fully functional iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, which is pretty great too.
T-Mobile and Sprint are not one carrier yet from either a logistic or marketing standpoint, so you shouldn't be surprised to see the "Now Network" offer different discounts from what's currently available at Magenta. You're looking at paying just $5 a month with an 18-month Sprint Flex lease plan, as well as receiving a free $100 prepaid Mastercard if you also bring your existing number to the nation's soon-to-be-retired fourth-largest mobile network operator.
Unfortunately, Big Red is even less generous than Apple itself. There are no discounts to be had with monthly installment plans, no special trade-in deals, no nothing. So, yeah, it's probably a good idea to pre-order this thing from Walmart or Best Buy instead if you absolutely need to activate it on Verizon.
As far as we can tell, Xfinity is the only carrier outside of the "big four" club to accept pre-orders already. If you don't have a problem porting in your number and activating a new line of Xfinity Mobile service, you're looking at saving $200 over the duration of a 24-month device payment plan. Not too shabby!