iPhone buying decisions vary from person to person, and not everyone cares about having the latest version. This works for a lot of consumers since you can generally buy any modern iPhone and have a positive experience — especially if you’re upgrading after a few generations.

Every summer I hear from family members who are super excited that they just bought a new iPhone. If I mention that a new model is just around the corner and we even have an idea about what will be different, it never changes their buying decision. That can be hard for me to understand, but it works for a lot of people. Just look at Apple’s iPhone sales numbers during the quarter before a new model is introduced.

If you do care about buying the latest iPhone as soon as it comes out, it’s not too hard to guess when new iPhones will be introduced based on recent launches.

A lot of Apple products like Macs and iPads are updated on very different cycles, but Apple Watches and iPhones have historically stuck to the same pattern in recent years. New hardware is introduced around September and launches shortly after. The iPhone X was an exception last year with an early November debut, but we don’t expect that to happen again this year.

iPhones used to debut in the summer, but that changed in 2011 when the iPhone 4 wasn’t replaced by the iPhone 4s until October. Apple released the white version much later than expected that year and added Verizon as the second carrier in the US mid-cycle before introducing the next model.

Since then, iPhone event invitations have been sent to the press in late August, new iPhones have been introduced in early September (usually followed by a pre-order period), new versions of iOS are released, then new iPhones hit the market before the end of the month.

Here are the relevant dates I’ve been collecting every year for Apple’s timeline:

  • iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X
    • Invite 8/31/2017
    • Event 9/12/2017
    • Preorder 9/15/2017
    • iOS 11 9/19/2017
    • Launch (iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus) 9/22/2017
    • Launch (iPhone X) 11/3/2017
  • iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
    • Invite 8/29/2016
    • Event 9/7/2016
    • Preorder 9/9/2016
    • iOS 10 9/13/2016
    • Launch 9/16/2016
  • iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus
    • Invite 8/27/2015
    • Event 9/9/2015
    • Preorder 9/12/2015
    • iOS 9 9/16/2015
    • Launch 9/25/2015
  • iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
    • Invite 8/28/2014
    • Event 9/9/2014
    • Preorder 9/12/2014
    • iOS 8 9/17/2014
    • Launch 9/19/2014
  • iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c
    • Event 9/10/2013
    • iOS 7 9/18/2013
    • Launch 9/20/2013
  • iPhone 5
    • Event 9/12/2012
    • iOS 6 9/19/2012
    • Launch 9/21/2012

Pending any unexpected curveballs this year, we’ll likely know the iPhone event date in the next two weeks (and purely a guess but I’m expecting Wednesday, September 12, not Tuesday this year considering the significance of September 11). Hopefully that means we see new iPhones (and Apple Watches!) hit the market before the end of next month.

There has been at least one report that the mid-sized, entry priced iPhone won’t hit the market until some time in October, but the new OLED models aren’t expected to be later this year like last year.

For customers on annual upgrade plans, replacing an iPhone X that was bought in November with a newer version in September this year could mean paying up a little more than usual upfront however.

A lot of annual upgrade plans are designed around making the equivalent of twelve monthly payments and trading in the old iPhone to upgrade. It’s possible Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program will consider this and make an exception for upgraders this year, but we don’t know for sure yet how Apple and carrier upgrade plans will behave if the new flagship comes out 10 or 11 months after the last flagship.

At any rate, the new models are just around the corner so we’ll have answers to all our questions soon!

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.