Apple iPhone becoming more and more affordable
Background information

Apple iPhone becoming more and more affordable

The price of flagship iPhones has remained roughly stable since 2017. Adjusted for inflation, they’re even getting cheaper.

Apple smartphones aren’t exactly known for being bargains. With every new generation that’s announced, you’re bound to hear claims that the devices are getting more expensive every year and that Apple’s raking it in.

But this is not true for 2023. In Switzerland, the new generation is cheaper than the previous one. The only exception is the iPhone Pro Max, where the smallest version now comes with 256 GB of storage instead of 128 GB. For the remaining models, the capacity has stayed the same:

  • iPhone 15 vs. 14: 849 vs. 929 francs/949 vs. 999 euros
  • iPhone 15 Plus vs. 14 Plus: 949 vs. 1,049 francs/1,099 vs. 1,149 euros
  • iPhone 15 Pro vs. 14 Pro: 1,079 vs. 1,179 francs/1,199 vs. 1,299 euros
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. 14 Pro Max: 1,299 vs. 1,299 francs/1,449 vs. 1,449 euros

How did things develop in the last few years?

Only one big price increase

I’ve compiled the launch prices of all iPhone generations – for the USA, Switzerland and Germany. I’ve left out the first four models as they were only available from telecom providers. You could only get them with a contract or without a locked SIM. And they were overpriced. That’s why I started my analysis in 2010 with the iPhone 4.

As a reference, I always looked at the standard size flagship. In recent years, this would’ve been the iPhone Pro, for example. The prices apply to the model with the smallest memory. Although its basic capacity has increased over the years, so has the demand.

Apple’s domestic market, the USA, has only experienced one price increase in the last 13 years. This was in 2017, when Apple introduced the iPhone X – its first premium model. It no longer cost 649 dollars, like the flagship smartphones of the previous seven years, but 999 dollars. Despite the outcry, the iPhone X still proved extremely successful. Since then, the iPhone hasn’t become more expensive. In fact, the iPhone 15 Pro is also available for 999 dollars in the USA.

Prices tend to fluctuate more in Switzerland and Germany but have been following a similar trend. There was another big price jump with the iPhone X. And in Germany, the iPhone 14 Pro was also unusually expensive. The new iPhone 15 Pro, on the other hand, is the most affordable flagship since the iPhone 7.

Other countries, other prices

What’s the reason for these price fluctuations? Things become clearer when I include the exchange rates in my calculations. As Apple does business in US dollars, that’s the definitive currency international pricing’s based on. One franc or euro isn’t always worth the same amount of US dollars, so Apple adjust their prices in Switzerland and Germany accordingly. The following chart’s based on the exchange rates on September 15 of the respective year.

These curves are slightly different from the previous chart. The 2022 outlier has gone, for example. The numbers also suggest that Apple makes more from selling an iPhone in Europe than in the USA.

However, this conclusion would fall short, because prices in the USA are quoted without value-added tax (VAT). In New York, it’s at 8.875 per cent, for example. European prices already include VAT. After subtracting it, the prices aren’t that different any more, as you can see in the following chart. Especially since transport and customs costs haven’t yet been included.

Less and less purchasing power required to buy an iPhone

While absolute prices have remained relatively constant, their importance has changed over the years. Due to inflation, 1,000 francs is worth less today than last year – and even less than in 2017, for example. The values in the next chart show how much iPhones of the past years would cost today if they required the same purchasing power as they did when they were released. I used the inflation calculator of the Federal Statistical Office among other things to get these numbers.

The curves have been on a downward trend again since 2017. Adjusted for local inflation, an iPhone Pro has since become about 15 per cent cheaper to buy in Switzerland. In Germany, we’re looking at 16 per cent, and as much as 20 per cent in the USA.

The difference for Apple itself is even greater. The converted price of 1,367 US dollars customers shelled out for an iPhone X in Germany back in 2017 would be equivalent to 1,712 US dollars in the US today. Instead, the new iPhone 15 Pro will be sold for the equivalent of 1,295 US dollars. That’s almost 25 per cent less.

Still, there’s no need to worry about Apple’s financial situation. As mentioned above, my sample only refers to the cheapest Pro model. Apple has additionally introduced more expensive models over the years – with large screens or lots of storage space, for example. For these, the already high margin should be even better than for the entry-level models.

What’s your opinion on iPhone prices? Over the top or justified? Do you feel you’d be more able to afford a flagship today compared to before? Let us know in the comments.

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My fingerprint often changes so drastically that my MacBook doesn't recognise it anymore. The reason? If I'm not clinging to a monitor or camera, I'm probably clinging to a rockface by the tips of my fingers.

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