Alongside the iPhone 6S, Apple introduced it's own financing and early upgrade program. This quick summary of the Upgrade Program and how it works will help you decide if this is how you should purchase your new iPhone..
What is the iPhone Upgrade Program?
Apple's new program allows you to finance your iPhone purchase through Apple instead of through your carrier.
At this point, all the carriers are moving customers to installment purchase plans or leasing plans for their phones .
The key difference is that if you choose to instead finance your phone through Apple, it will make switching carriers easier.
What You Get:
- 24-month Installment Plan with 0% APR Financing
- Early Upgrade Option after 12 Months (you must trade in your phone)
- AppleCare+ Included
- Unlocked Phone (choose your carrier)
- Some carriers may charge you a higher device access fee for not financing through them.
- Will not be eligible for many wireless carrier incentives when switching phones.
- You will need good credit to qualify.
How Much Will It Cost?
These are costs to purchase the phone only, and exclude data and access fees.
The Apple iPhone Upgrade Plan is a 24-month installment plan. But you can upgrade every year by trading in your existing phone.
If you make all 24 payments, you will then be free to re-sell your unlocked iPhone. And unlocked smartphones tend to attract higher re-sale prices.
The easiest comparison I can make is to the AT&T Next program. And the Next program is typical of carrier installment programs.
With AT&T Next 12, you finance the purchase the phone in 18 installments. But you can trade in the phone and upgrade after 12 months.
Alternatively, with Next 18, you finance the purchase the phone in 24 installments, and you can trade it in and upgrade after 18 months.
Neither AT&T Next program includes AppleCare+, which costs $129.
When I compare costs of the $650 iPhone 6S 16 GB, this is what I find:
iPhone Upgrade Plan
AT&T Next 12
AT&T Next 18
For what it is worth, your sum total of payments to Apple after 24 months come to the retail price of the phone plus the $129 cost of AppleCare+.
So you do not get a free lunch.
The Bottom Line
If you want to upgrade every year, you are just renting the phone anyway.
And in that case I strongly urge you to compare the iPhone Upgrade Plan to not just financing options like AT&T Next, but to lease options like those offered by Sprint and T-Mobile.
I think you will find leasing options available that allow you to upgrade every year and even include accident protection at a lower price than what is offered by Apple.
Plus, you will not need to worry about being penalized for your monthly data and access costs because you did not lease or finance your smartphone through your carrier.
And, if you want to finance your phone over 24 months and the continue to own it or re-sell it, it is likely a wirelesss carrier will be a better bet.
- You will not be subject to a new credit check if you do not switch carriers.
- You can earn cash incentives if you do decide to switch.
- No penalties on device access charges.
- Financing options other than 24 months will be available.
- You will not be required to add expensive insurance that you might not want.
My opinion is that the real benefit of the iPhone Upgrade Program is that it makes switching carriers down the road easier. But, honestly, it is not that hard.
And, with the Apple program, you will never be able to take advantage of carrier incentives to switch.
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