Even though Apple has gone big on trade-in discounts lately, they’re usually pretty clear about how much a new iPhone costs. This year, the iPhone 12 Mini is priced at $699, while the standard iPhone 12 comes in at $799. However, things aren’t quite that simple. Apple announced it had a few carrier partnership deals for monthly financing, which made the price much lower if you traded in an old iPhone. But what they didn’t say was that the base, full retail price for the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini is $30 more than what was announced on stage.
If you buy a phone through T-Mobile or Sprint, or buy Apple’s unlocked, SIM-free version, the pricing is $729 for the 12 Mini and $829 for the 12. You only save that $30 if you buy it for AT&T or Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) and activate the phone with one of those carriers. We first saw this on CNET, and going through Apple’s online buy flow confirms the special deal for Verizon or AT&T buyers. Since unlocked, SIM-free pricing is what we usually consider the true price of a phone, without carrier discounts or financing deals, it’s not entirely to say that the 12 and 12 Mini start at the prices Apple claimed — after all, who knows how long those discounts will last?