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Buying an iPhone in the USA

UK citizens, Germans, Frenchmen and all sorts of Apple fans from other nations are wondering whether you could buy an iPhone in the USA for a cheaper price. “Can I buy a US iPhone and use it in my home country?”, people often ask. You might have even pondered the question yourself: Whether flying to the USA and buying an iPhone while abroad is perhaps cheaper? Overall, the Facebook myth that buying an iPhone in the USA is cheaper, is simply untrue.

Is it cheaper to buy an iPhone in the USA?

At first sight, the prices in the UK and Central Europe look quite a bit steeper that the US $699 or US $799 for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. But people often forget, is that these prices are tied to two year contracts and exclude the VAT. This seems like a mean US sales trick, but in the States, the rate of VAT is dependent upon the individual state and added at the counter. Therfore the price you see does not include any taxes. You can add at least fifteen percent to make the price more realistic.

In other cases, you need to factor in the cost for the 24 month long contracts that come with iPhones in the states. You might be paying roughly 35 bucks per month for two years, which adds up to a retail value of $839,99, given the time. Still, this would be excluding taxes. Thus in effect, it is not cheaper to buy an iPhone while traveling abroad in the states.

Taxes and customs when buying an iPhone in the USA

VAT is also called “sales tax” in the USA and goes as low as seven percent in New York, but when flying back to e.g. the UK you will be charged 20% VAT plus import tax. Even if you decide to try and slip the iPhone through customs illegally, the overall savings are at best ¬£30 with an unlocked model and not worth the effort. If you get caught smuggeling an iPhone through customs, the price will be at least the same as in the UK plus the fee for a wrongful customs declaration.

Tips for buying an an iPhone internationally?

There are certain compatiblity restrictions when it comes to the so-called bands. While Apple dramatically improved the situation with allowing the new iPhones (6 and up) to use the full range of service on CDMA networks with even the GSM models, features such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) don’t work on UK networks, as of now. See this info page at Apple.com to learn more about LTE and what kind of networks you can use with the different iPhone models.