September is still a few weeks away, and yet, the rumored iPhone 5 has already (supposedly) been outed, stripped naked, and displayed for all the world to see. But even if the rumors are correct and Apple's new über phone makes its debut next month, the real star of the show for bargain hunters won't be the iPhone 5.
All eyes will be on the iPhone 4S, which is already seeing significant price cuts across the board. If Apple follows its own tradition, the 4S will see even bigger discounts after the iPhone 5's debut. But just how low can its price go? Let's take a quick look at previous Apple discounts to find out.
iPhone 4S Hits an All-Time LowLast fall when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, it did something few people expected it to do. The company slashed the prices of its previous generation iPhones. So while the iPhone 4S debuted at a starting price of $199, the iPhone 4's price was slashed to $99 for an 8GB model and the iPhone 3GS fell to $0, both with a 2-year contract. Earlier this year, Apple performed the same move with the announcement of the new iPad with Retina, shaving $100 off the price of the previous generation iPad 2.
With rumors of an Amazon smartphone in the works and Android's ever-growing legion of smartphones, it wouldn't be a surprise if Apple kept the iPhone 4S around to compete with other smartphones. Even in the face of an LTE iPhone, the 4S would still be considered a very capable phone for users who are simply looking for a bargain or those who don't care to have the latest smartphone in their pocket. If Apple follows the same pricing pattern, the 16GB iPhone 4S could drop to $99 come September.
That said, this week Sprint offered the Apple iPhone 4S 16GB Phone bundled with a $100 American Express Reward Card for $149.99 with free shipping (a current price low by $140 and the best deal we've seen for a new iPhone 4S 16GB phone from any carrier). That effectively puts the final cost to $49.99, since consumers will undoubtedly find use for a general Amex gift card. After the iPhone 5's official unveiling though, it's unlikely that the 4S will dip under $100. Whether Sprint will continue to offer a gift card or some sort of credit, remains to be seen.
Don't Dial It InRegardless, a $100 iPhone 4S is a steal in today's highly-competitive smartphone landscape. As a result, bargain shoppers should refrain from purchasing any smartphone until Apple officially announces its next iPhone. Upon the announcement, it could be mere hours until discounts on the iPhone 4S begin to roll in. We might even see iPhone price matching from Apple itself, and that's sweet music to any smartphone shopper's wallet.
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