Dad always said that you'll never get anything you don't ask for, and that maxim is now proving true at the Apple store.
Apple stores are now matching the $50 discount that Sprint is currently offering on all models of the iPhone, dropping the price of the iPhone 4S to $150 when you sign a two-year contract. This is not an advertised or official deal: You can only get the discount if you specifically mention the Sprint sale, at which point an Apple store employee should price match. (We called an Apple Store here in New York and the representative did, indeed, confirm the price-matching policy).
The discount for the iPhone 4S was first reported by MacRumors and comes, of course, as the world awaits the apparently imminent arrival of the next-generation iPhone, or the so-called "iPhone 5." Apple seems all but certain to announce its new iPhone in mid-September, according to multiple leaks from several reputable newspapers. Historically, iPhone sales have decreased as Apple nears the release of a new model, as customers await the faster, perhaps redesigned iPhone.
The incessant whispers of fancy new iPhones on the horizon have hurt Apple in the past: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer recently blamed the rumor mill for slumping iPhone sales in July, echoing a similar complaint from CEO Tim Cook in October 2011. Price-matching iPhone discounts may be part of Apple's method to boost flagging sales, as much of the electronics-buying world breathlessly delays their purchase for the iPhone 5.
Can a $50 discount on the price of the phone lure would-be hold-outs and make them forget that a new iPhone is coming in a month or so? Probably not. Given that the iPhone 4S is likely to cost $100 on contract once the next iPhone is announced -- rather than the only-if-you-ask-for-it $150 -- it's better to wait if you can.
If you cannot wait, however, go ahead and save yourself $50 on a Sprint iPhone. The price cut is apparently good for all models: A 32GB iPhone 4S drops to $250, a 64GB iPhone 4S drops to $350, and the iPhone 4 goes all the way down to $50. Unfortunately, if you opt for the iPhone 3GS -- currently free with a two-year contract -- Apple will not give you a $50 bill plus a complimentary iPhone. Nice try, though.