iPhone Upgrade Program: 50% off on the latest iPhone every year?

iPhone Upgrade Program

Many users upgrade to the latest iPhone every year not because their current iPhone is outdated the moment its successor launches, but because the newer iPhones are almost always better. After all, who doesn’t want the latest and greatest from Apple?

Well, Apple has you covered! It offers the iPhone Upgrade Program for users who have this constant urge to upgrade to a newer iPhone iteration. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? Scroll down to find out!

What is iPhone Upgrade Program? 

Apple introduced the iPhone Upgrade Program back in 2015. It allows users to buy and use iPhones while making monthly installments for the same. A user availing of this service needs to make 24 monthly payments, which sums up to the device’s cost over a span of 2 years to own the iPhone.

However, the differentiating factor here is that users can upgrade to a newer iPhone when they’ve made 12 payments monthly or the equivalent in a shorter period.  

Basically, you can upgrade to the latest iPhone every year at a significantly lower cost. Think of it as paying for a subscription service.

Oh wait, there was some talk about Apple’s Hardware Subscription Service a couple of months ago! However, with the aforementioned rumored service, you do not get to own the device at all. The same does not apply here, and the iPhone Upgrade Program has been up and running for around 7 years.  

How much does it cost to upgrade an iPhone?

Credit: Apple

The iPhone Upgrade Program has monthly installments ranging from $35 to up to almost $1000 depending on the device, and if you select standard AppleCare+ or AppleCare+ with theft and loss. You can get the 128GB version of the iPhone 13 mini at $35.33 per month and the 1TB variant of the iPhone 13 Pro Max for $74.91 per month.

What is the iPhone Upgrade Program eligibility?

You must:

  • be a citizen of the USA or have a valid U.S. credit or debit card,
  • have a primary and secondary ID with matching first and last names,
  • be at least 18 years or older.

How does iPhone Upgrade Program work? 

The procedure to enroll yourself in Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program is straightforward. Here are the steps to register;

  1. Check if you’re eligible and select the iPhone of your choice.
  2. Choose between AppleCare+ or AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss protection.
  3. Provide carrier details and other relevant account info.
  4. Provide details on personal info (I.D.) and bank (credit/debit card).
    Here are all the accepted forms of I.D.
  5. Lastly, trade in your old device once you receive your new iPhone.

How to trade in your current smartphone 

You can either walk into an Apple Store with all the aforementioned documents (redirect), enroll in the iPhone Upgrade Program, and get yourself a shiny new iPhone. Or suppose you plan to register through Apple’s website or the App.

Upon completing these steps (redirect), you can pick up your new iPhone from a nearby Apple store or receive your new iPhone alongside a trade-in kit delivered to your doorsteps within a few days.  

Make sure to back up your data to iCloud → transfer data from your old to new iPhone → factory reset. After which, you can send it back to Apple in the trade-in kit.  

Isn’t it better to get an iPhone from a carrier instead? 

Well, it depends. Apple bundles in AppleCare+ or AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss. Apple offers other services like screen replacement, etc., at a comparatively cheaper rate than when you are not enrolled in the program. However, several carriers also provide the same services at a similar price point to Apple.

Also, during the holiday season or when a new iPhone launches, carriers have some excellent deals that you should definitely not miss out on.  

One downside to this is that you will get locked to a carrier for whatever time frame you have installments. With Apple, you can get a factory unlocked iPhone or have the flexibility to switch carriers in a year or once you’ve made the equivalent of 12 payments.  

Is there a compulsion to upgrade every 12 months? 

Certainly not. Once you sign with Apple, your contract with the company is for 24 months, after which you own the device. You can sell it, trade it in, and do as you please with the device. If you do not want to wait for 2 years to own the device, you can pay the remaining costs of the installments up front and get to own the device.  

The choice to upgrade to the latest iPhone every year lies in your hands. But if you plan on upgrading once every 12 months, the contract is renewed. While you do not get to own the iPhone entirely in this model, you get to use the latest by Apple for half its price. Having the Apple card also adds to the list of benefits offered!

Merits of Apple iPhone Upgrade Program   

You get to upgrade to a new iPhone every year at half the device’s original cost. The monthly installments also include the cost of AppleCare+ depending on the device, and you can also select the AppleCare+ Theft and Loss option for around $5 more monthly.  

If you select AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss option, it covers two events of accidental damage for 12 months. You will need to pay a fee of $29 for screen damage, $99 for other damage, and $149 for theft or loss of the device. The Find My feature should be on at all times if your device is lost or stolen.

You can avail of all these benefits two times a year if you’re subscribed to AppleCare+ Theft and Loss. And, since you are a repeat customer, you also get priority assistance 24/7.

Demerits of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program

The cons of getting an iPhone through the iPhone Upgrade Program are few. The prerequisite to avail of this plan is to live in the USA and be able to provide the necessary documentation. So, anyone outside the U.S. can’t reap the benefits of the service.  

Not many might want to switch to the Android side of smartphones, but with carrier installment plans, you have the choice to do so. Here, however, you lose the ability to choose.  

Does iPhone upgrade program save you money? 

Now, that boils down to what a user’s upgrade cycle is. If you’re someone who upgrades every year to the latest iPhone, you can do so at half the device’s original cost. Convenience is another bonus as all you need to do is visit an Apple store or sign up for the program online, and the device is delivered to your door.

I also have to consider that the resale value of an iPhone does not plummet as soon as its successor launches. And if you buy a newly launched iPhone outright and resell it in a year, it might fetch a good amount, leading to a lower cost of owning the device over a year.

While the above argument is true to a certain degree, it screams inconvenience. Firstly, you have to buy an iPhone outright, which might not be feasible for many. And even if it is, paying in installments is not a bad option if you have your finances sorted.

Secondly, you will have to indulge in reselling the device, which again involves a certain degree of inconvenience. So, if the iPhone Upgrade Program saves you any money is a question that is left open to personal interpretation.

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