One of the few surprises announced during Apple’s special media event yesterday was the the new iPhone Upgrade Program in the United States. We’ve gotten more than a few questions from AppAdvice readers, so lets take a closer look at how it works so you can decide if it is for you.
What is it?
If you haven’t noticed, the usual run-of-the-mill, two-year phone contract is quickly nearing extinction. The four major carriers in the United States – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint – have mostly moved away from the contract structure for customers.
Instead of receiving a subsidy that can be put toward the purchase of a new handset, you’ll probably need to purchase an iPhone at the full retail price, which can be up to $949 for a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus.
Thankfully, the carriers offer a number of different installment plans to pay off the phone. If you decide to change carriers, you’ll just need to pay off the balance.
In place of a subsidy, you’ll be able to take advantage of cheaper monthly phone plans. Add in the phone payment, and the costs are usually similar to what was found in the old structure.
And Apple wants to get into the game with its new upgrade program. You’ll be able to spread the cost of a new phone over 24 monthly payments with the option to snag a new iPhone after 12 months.
A numbers game
Here’s a look at the monthly costs from Apple. Just to note, since the program is officially a loan, it is subject to credit eligibility.
Overall, the plan does look to be a pretty nice option – especially if you’re interested in always having the latest and greatest iPhone model.
One of the best benefits of the program is that AppleCare+ is included. A $129 value, the warranty for your phone is extended to two years, and you’re covered for up to two incidents of accidental damage – after paying a $99 service fee.
To better understand the program, and to help any one who is afraid of math, here’s how much you’ll actually be paying through 12 and 24 months in the program. We’ve also included the regular retail price of the handsets along with AppleCare+.
16GB – $388.92/$777.84 ($649 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $778 total)
64GB – $438.96/$877.92 ($749 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $878 total)
128GB – $489/$978 ($849 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $978 total)
iPhone 6s Plus
16GB – $438.96/$877.92 ($749 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $878 total)
64GB – $489/$978 ($849 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $978 total)
128GB – $538.92/$1,077.84 ($949 retail + $129 AppleCare+ = $1,078 total)
So as you can see, there doesn’t seem to be much of a catch to joining the program – especially since the loans are interest free. You might be able to save some money without purchasing AppleCare+ and going through a carrier’s installment plan – especially with T-Mobile’s aggressive pricing. But if you’re near a local Apple Store, AppleCare+ is basically a must-have for any iOS device these days.
What about a carrier?
The iPhone you’ll receive is unlocked and can be used with any plan from any of the major carriers. That’s definitely great news. You should also be able to switch carriers at any time, if you’d like, while paying off the balance of the phone from Apple.
How can I signup?
Most importantly, interested buyers can only take advantage of the program at their local Apple Store. You’ll be able to make a reservation starting at 12:01 a.m. PDT on Saturday, Sept. 12 on Apple’s site to purchase a handset in the store starting on Friday, Sept. 25.
You can read more about the program directly on Apple’s site here. And let us know if you have any more questions.
I think the iPhone Upgrade Program could end up being on the of biggest announcements Apple made at yesterday’s event. By taking the carriers out of the equation and leveraging its retail stores, Apple could easily snag even more users looking to purchase one of the new handsets.
Along with 3D Touch technology and a faster A9 processor, both handsets offer a number of camera improvements including support for the interesting Live Photos feature.
Each iPhone will be available in four different colors – silver, gold, space gray, and a new rose gold.