What you really pay for an iPhone 13 on contract

In most cases, signing up for a two or three-year mobile contract with an iPhone 13 is a better deal than buying it on prepaid, a MyBroadband analysis has revealed.

iStore recently announced the local retail prices for the iPhone 13, revealing that this year’s models were cheaper than their predecessors.

In addition, each storage tier has been doubled, with the minimum now being 128GB instead of 64GB.

Whereas the entry-level iPhone 12 Mini 64GB cost R15,999 at launch in December last year, the iPhone 13 Mini 128GB is priced at R14,999.

The table below summarises the new prepaid prices for the iPhone 13 series in South Africa.

Model 128GB 256GB 512GB 1TB
iPhone 13 Mini R14,999 R17,299 R21,599
iPhone 13 R17,299 R19,399 R23,699
iPhone 13 Pro R21,499 R23,699 R28,699 R32,999
iPhone 13  Pro Max R23,699 R25,899 R30,899 R35,299

Many South Africans cannot afford to drop thousands of rand on a smartphone once-off, but they do have the means to pay the device off over several months.

This is where mobile network operator contracts come in.

MyBroadband previously compared the pricing of the iPhone flagships on contract and found that it was always cheaper to go the prepaid route in the long term.

We decided to revisit this comparison and see how much the iPhone 13 range would cost on contract over the entire payment period as opposed to buying the smartphones on prepaid.

Buying the iPhones on contract from Vodacom or Telkom typically worked out to be cheaper when taking the allocations of data, voice minutes, and SMSs they come bundled with into consideration.

With MTN, half the models were cheaper on contract, but only slightly so.

Vodacom offers the iPhone 13 range on 24-month and 36-month contracts.

Assuming that most iPhone users would need a minimum of 1GB data every month, we looked at pricing on the Red 1GB 100 min contract.

This package includes 1GB of anytime data, 100 voice minutes, and 75 SMSs.

The Vodacom contracts also come with a 20W fast charging brick which costs R399 when bought separately.

For a comparable prepaid package, we combined a 30-day Vodacom 1GB data bundle at R85, a 100 voice minutes bundle for R109, and a 100 SMS bundle for R33. Vodacom does not have a prepaid 75 SMS bundle.

Together, these would cost R227 per month.

Multiplied over 24 months, they would set you back R5,448, while 36 months would cost R8,172.

Factor those costs into the prepaid price, and the contract is almost always the cheaper option, as shown in the table below.

Vodacom iPhone 13 24-month contracts
Smartphone Monthly contract price Total contract price Prepaid price including allocation
iPhone 13 Mini 128GB R799 R19,176 R20,447
iPhone 13 Mini 256GB R899 R21,576 R22,747
iPhone 13 Mini 512GB R1,099 R26,376 R27,047
iPhone 13 128GB R899 R21,576 R22,747
iPhone 13 256GB R999 R23,976 R24,847
iPhone 13 512GB R1,199 R28,776 R29,147
iPhone 13 Pro 128GB R1,099 R26,376 R26,947
iPhone 13 Pro 256GB R1,199 R28,776 R29,147
iPhone 13 Pro 512GB R1,399 R33,576 R34,147
iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB R1,199 R28,776 R29,147
iPhone 13 Pro Max 256GB R1,299 R31,176 R31,347
iPhone 13 Pro Max 512GB R1,499 R35,976 R36,347
Vodacom iPhone 13 36-month contracts
Smartphone Monthly contract price Total contract price Prepaid price including allocation
iPhone 13 Mini 128GB R599 R21,564 R23,171
iPhone 13 Mini 256GB R649 R23,364 R25,471
iPhone 13 Mini 512GB R829 R29,844 R29,771
iPhone 13 128GB R649 R23,364 R25,471
iPhone 13 256GB R729 R26,244 R27,571
iPhone 13 512GB R849 R30,564 R31,871
iPhone 13 Pro 128GB R779 R28,044 R29,671
iPhone 13 Pro 256GB R849 R30,564 R31,871
iPhone 13 Pro 512GB R999 R35,964 R36,871
iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB R849 R30,564 R31,871
iPhone 13 Pro Max 256GB R929 R33,444 R34,071
iPhone 13 Pro Max 512GB R1,099 R39,564 R39,071

We could not find as many MTN offers as on Vodacom because its online application pages for iPhone 13 pre-orders required individually submitting details to get pricing.

Fortunately, the iStore provided entry-level pricing for the 128GB models on an MTN Talk Max or Gigs Xs offer.

The Gigs Xs package includes 1GB of anytime data, 500MB social data, 500MB video streaming data, and 25 all-net minutes.

It also comes with a once-off 20GB anytime data, six months of free Apple Music, 5GB video streaming bundles, and a 5GB YouTube bundle.

For a comparable prepaid offer, we combined a 1.5GB data bundle at R99 and MTN All-Net 20 bundle for 20 minutes of talk time at R10 for each month.

We also added a once-off 20GB anytime data bundle at R599.

That comes to a total additional cost of R3,215 on top of the price of the phone.

The table below shows how much that package would cost with each iPhone 13 model compared to the total contract price.

MTN iPhone 13 24-month contracts
Smartphone Monthly contract price Total contract price Prepaid price including allocation
iPhone 13 Mini 128GB R749 R17,976 R18,214
iPhone 13 128GB R849 R20,376 R20,514
iPhone 13 Pro 128GB R1,099 R26,376 R24,714
iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB R1,199 R28,776 R26,914

Telkom’s website only shows 24-month contracts for the iPhone 13, but these were much cheaper than Vodacom and MTN’s offers.

The most affordable offer is the FreeMe 1.5GB package, including 1GB all-network data, 250MB WhatsApp data, 250MB streaming data, 100 SMSs, 500 on-net and 25 any network minutes.

The FreeMe 1.5GB prepaid package includes the same allocations, except for the on-net calling minutes, which are 250 fewer.

There is no option to buy 250 on-net minutes to match the contract’s allocation, so we opted to leave this out.

Regardless, the prepaid price with the FreeMe 1.5GB bundle was more expensive than the contracts in all cases.

The most significant difference was on the iPhone 13 Mini 128GB, which would cost R16,776 on contract over 24 months, compared to R18,335 on prepaid.

The table below compares the contract and prepaid pricing of the iPhone 13 on Telkom.

Telkom iPhone 13 24-month contracts
Smartphone Monthly contract price Total contract price Prepaid price including allocation
iPhone 13 Mini 128GB R699 R16,776 R18,335
iPhone 13 Mini 256GB R799 R19,176 R20,635
iPhone 13 128GB R799 R19,176 R20,635
iPhone 13 256GB R899 R21,576 R22,735
iPhone 13 Pro 128GB R999 R23,976 R24,835
iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB R1,099 R26,376 R27,035
iPhone 13 Pro Max 256GB R1,199 R28,776 R29,235

Now read: How much it costs to make the iPhone 13 Pro

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What you really pay for an iPhone 13 on contract