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Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program doesn’t offer much incentive over alternatives from carriers

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 9.55.32 AM

Update: The chart above was updated to reflect Sprint’s just announced iPhone Forever upgrade plan pricing. Sprint is offering $22/month regular pricing ($15 for those that trade-in a device) through its iPhone Forever Upgrade program. Customers can upgrade every time there is a new iPhone, but they’ll have to pay off the remainder of the retail price to keep it. Yearly cost for all plans added.

With the launch of its new iPhone 6s lineup this week, Apple is competing directly with its carrier partners by introducing an iPhone Upgrade Program that aims to rival similar offers from T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and others. Customers pay monthly instalments for 24 months, and they can optionally trade-in or pay off the device after 12 months to upgrade to a newer model. Apple’s own upgrade program offers some perks for consumers— the ability to get an unlocked device and use the carrier of their choice, for example— but how does it compare to the upgrade/financing programs from the other guys?

Below we compare the upgrade programs of the various carriers for an entry-level 16GB iPhone 6s and also take into account limited time promotions and other perks to find out who offers the best overall value.

Things to keep in mind: These are advertised prices before taxes, and T-Mobile’s best prices are introductory and only for a limited time. The installment prices from the other carriers are based on prices for installments on $649 iPhone 6. Since the new iPhone 6s models take over last year’s iPhone 6 pricing, it’s likely that will reflect installment prices for Jump On Demand and the other carriers after any introductory promotions have ended. We’ve confirmed as much for AT&T. 

Most plans allow you to upgrade to a new device after a 12 or 18 month term (or equivalent number of payments), or optionally purchase the device outright for the remainder of the retail cost of the device.

All offer $0 down when signing up for a leasing/upgrade plan, and some carriers make you pay tax on the entire 12-30 month term up front.

T-Mobile’s introductory pricing comes in at the best overall value at $524. That leaves you with enough left over to buy a $129 AppleCare+ warranty and still come in at $650, the same price most of the other carriers are selling the device for without the extended warranty. That’s also over $100 cheaper than the total cost of the upgrade program through Apple with included AppleCare+. But once T-Mobile inevitably ends its introductory pricing, the majority of the carriers and Apple come in at almost the exact same price. And if you want to keep your iPhone 6s and leave T-Mobile, you’ll still have to pay the reminder of the $649 retail price on the device. 

One benefit of going with Apple is that you’ll be able to bundle AppleCare+ with your iPhone lease for just a few dollars more per month and therefore won’t have to pay the $129 cost up front. Going with Apple also has the added benefit of being able to pick the carrier of your choice, and AT&T offers a choice between the length of the term from 20-30 months for those that might prefer a lower monthly rate. But overall, unless other carriers respond with discounted introductory pricing under the $649 price Apple announced, it looks like T-Mobile has the best on overall value for now.

Preorders for the device will officially kick off on Saturday, September 12 through Apple and most major carriers and retailers.


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  1. Brandon Counts - 8 years ago

    The Verizon one comes unlocked from the factory.

    • crichton007 - 8 years ago

      Mostly. My understanding (and I could be wrong here) is that the Verizon one is unlocked internationally but locked inside of the USA.

      • fromNY2LA (@onestopnyc) - 8 years ago

        Actually it works with any carrier using a SIM card (AT&T and T-Mobile) but not Sprint. (and of course internationally).

      • Tim B (@timbisme) - 8 years ago

        No, Verizon phones are unlocked completely. The rules that caused them to have to unlock their phones were imposed by the FCC during a spectrum auction (I believe for 700Mhz spectrum). Wouldn’t make any sense if that imposition excluded the only place the FCC has jurisdiction over, hah.

      • robkow86 - 8 years ago

        You are wrong. It works anywhere. Despite Apple Geniuses and Verizon Customer Service telling me otherwise. It is completely unlocked. Will work with any SIM. I personally took my Verizon iPhone to T-Mobile and then to ATT. Worked fine on all networks.

      • telecastle - 8 years ago

        Verizon phones come unlocked on the GSM bands completely – domestically and internationally. This was a condition that FCC imposed on Verizon when it was given access to additional spectrum a few years ago. Verizon phones come locked on CDMA bands to Verizon, but that barely an issue for anyone in the US as Verizon is all but the only provider that uses the CDMA standard in the US. This may be an inconvenience to someone who tries to use Verizon phones in other countries on the CDMA standard, which is rare in most other countries. Once can always find a GSM provider in any country (including the US) with which a Verizon iPhone will work without having to be unlocked due it Verizon phones always sold unlocked on the GSM bands/standard.

  2. Andrew Messenger - 8 years ago

    Note that T-Mobile does not charge sales tax with Jump on Demand

    • Ilya Stepanko - 8 years ago

      They do. Just signed up.

      • Mig Ch - 8 years ago

        They do charge sale tax to upfront payment and every monthly payment. Just placed order, its lease contract does reflect the tax inclusive.

  3. Turns out for a 64Gb iPhone Plus, I pay less with Apple Program than with AT&T(Next 12) plus I get the Apple Care and still exchange it for a new one in 12 months. For this specific model, looks to me that Apple Upgrade Program is better, correct?

    What am I missing?

    • Jordan Kahn - 8 years ago

      Apple is $40.75 x 24 months = $978.

      AT&T is $42.45 x 20 months = $849.

      So not sure what math you did, but it’s the same as my comparison using the 16GB for all models. Apple’s plan packs on the extra cost of the bundled AppleCare+ plan.

      • Yeah, the cost over the full term of the agreement is obviously higher with Apple, thanks to Apple Care.

        But if I am looking to trade-in and get a new phone every year then I wouldnt worry about the full price of the phone that I would end up paying, right?

        AT&T – 42.45 x 12 months = 510
        Apple – 40.75 x 12 months = $489+Unlocked+Apple Care

        Both let me get a new phone every year.

      • Andie Turner - 8 years ago

        You are missing what everyone else has in this article. The Apple plans include extended warranty. The other’s don’t. Apple is 36.58 a month for 64Gb, AT&T is 42.45 a month without extended warranty. That’s a big difference.

    • Terrence Newton - 8 years ago

      Yes, it is better. Since Apple’s payments are over 24 months, it’s less per month but you can still upgrade after 12 payments. Also, the inclusion of AppleCare+ is great for people upgrading after 12 months. Looking at the totals above in this article, the total cost under Apple’s plan roughly adds up to the price of the phone + AC+. But if you trade in after 12 months and have 2 devices over a 24 month period, you are getting AC+ on 2 devices and essentially only paying once for it. I think that’s a good deal. And I know the carrier’s have their own insurance plans, but I’d take AC+ over any of those any day (though I might be slightly less enthusiastic about that if I didn’t live close to an Apple store.)

      • Jay (@jaybroni) - 8 years ago

        I’m not sure what the added benefit of AppleCare+ if I plan on upgrading every year. Doesn’t the iPhone already come with a year warranty? Are there any other benefits I get for that first year with AppleCare+ that I get w/o it?

    • Zachary Land - 8 years ago

      I just want to put this information out there. I’m not sure whether you are on a single line or are on a Mobile Share Plan. Anyways, with the Mobile Share Plan AT&T gives each line a $25 discount on the $40 fee, when that line is on AT&T Next.

      So, I’m not sure how Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program handles the account with AT&T, but assuming that they don’t offer any discounts you would save $300 per line a year by going with AT&T.

      • AT&T offers that discount irrespective of how you buy the phone as long as its not through a 2-year contract. Whether its AT&T Next or BYOD. I know bcoz thats how I am using my current iPhone 6 Plus(A verizon unlocked phone I bought at full price from Apple) and my wife has an iPhone 6 on Next and we both get a discount of $25 EACH.

      • Jesse Davis - 8 years ago

        AT&T actually gives you the $25 off if you bring your own device as well (for data plans >= 10GB), so you should still save the $300 going with Apple.

    • raptoroo7 - 8 years ago

      You are also forgetting with AT&T Next you get $15 or $25 off your $40 Smart Device Fee IF you have AT&T Next if you go with Apple you get no discount so you need to add $180 or $300 more with Apple’s plan for a 12 month term. Either way you are still paying more and have yet another line of credit to your name that is tied to Apple.

      • chrish1961 - 8 years ago

        With AT&T Next you still get the $25/mo service discount, even if you bring your own phone. I am in that situation now.

      • rdu06 - 8 years ago

        That’s not correct. The $40 device fee is for phones under contract only (kind of backwards, if you ask me). But the $25 discount applies to any smart device that isn’t on a contract, whether that is a Next payment plan device, or a BYO device. So anyone purchasing a new phone under Apple’s payment plan, still counts as a no-contract device, so the end price is still going to be $15 per month + rate plan. And actually, AT&T no longer offers 2-year contract/discounts. It’s either Next or BYO, so we should expect the complete elimination of the $40 device fee from any marketing materials. I’m sure they’ll come up with another way to charge people more than $15 in the future, though… we’ll see.

  4. Stetson - 8 years ago

    Also worth noting that if you upgrade your iPhone every 12 months and want to keep AppleCare+ on it you’ll be paying $129 per year for AppleCare, whereas with Apple’s plan you’re only paying $129 every 2 years for AppleCare despite getting a new phone every year.

    Personally I’m not sure I’ll go that way because I generally don’t buy AppleCare anyway ($129 + $79 for a screen replacement compared to just $129 out-of-warranty screen replacement cost, it isn’t worth it unless you damage more than just the screen).

    The nice benefit is that you aren’t beholden to pay off your plan at any particular carrier before switching to a different one.

    • vandy75 - 8 years ago

      I thought that too however you can transfer the balance of your apple care to the new phone. For years I didn’t know this.

      • Stetson - 8 years ago

        Yep, you’re right! So basically it’s the same as buying and selling yourself every year but spread out with 0% financing and Apple takes care of the whole trade in process for you.

  5. crichton007 - 8 years ago

    The thing that strikes me most about Apple’s offering is that anyone who takes them up on their offer is tied to Apple rather than the carrier. I don’t know if there is anything to read into this but if this plan gains enough traction the carriers should start worrying because a consumer could switch at any time with little friction.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

      They are only tied to Apple for upgrades, but it’s an unlocked phone so they can choose which carrier, plus if you have a problem, you go to Apple. Some people prefer to do business direct with Apple for buying their hardware.

      • crichton007 - 8 years ago

        Having gone to my carrier for support on other phones I know there’s no way I’d trust any of them to be able to help me if I needed it. I know that I can almost always count on a Genius Bar appt to get an issue sorted with my iPhone.

    • rdu06 - 8 years ago

      @crichton007 – I think you could have a point, but since carriers are moving away from contracts, customers are no longer tied to them anyway, albeit more likely that a person paying $27.xx directly to AT&T is more likely to continue service with them. But I also think it’s sort of a moot point, because in my observation there are two types of iPhone buyers: (1) people who will always buy through their carrier and (2) people who will always buy at the Apple store.

  6. Isn’t is the same as all other retailers since it includes the $129 AppleCare?

    • Stetson - 8 years ago

      Yep. You’re basically getting 0% financing plus a more hassle-free upgrade experience.

      For the same money you could buy the iPhone full price + AppleCare, then in a year sell the iPhone, get a refund of the remaining 6 months of AppleCare, and go buy the new one.

      Apple is just simplifying the process.

  7. fromNY2LA (@onestopnyc) - 8 years ago

    to make the comparaison fair the $129 AppleCare+ should be included.

  8. AirDJ31 - 8 years ago

    The Upgrade Program is basically the payment plan I used for getting my Mackbook Pro back in 2012, which I finally finished paying for last year. Plus I normally don’t do that much damage to my phone, if any, so Apple Care doesn’t move me that much, therefore, I’m leaning towards ATT Next. There’s a deal where if you upgrade to an iPhone through Next, you can get an iPad Mini 2 for $100 online (and $50 in store depending where you go) + the store I went to is also offering an extra $50 to pre-order Saturday. Assume all this is in response to the Upgrade Program.

  9. What I’m seeing here is that with the Apple program if you upgrade in 12 mos., in addition to resetting the 24 mos. plan for the new phone you have to trade-in your old one. I don’t have to give my old phone up with my AT&T plan but can sell it or pass it along. How is this a benefit for somebody who is trying to get a new phone every 12 mos.?

    • nonyabiness - 8 years ago

      If you upgrade yearly through AT&T Next, you either have to trade in your phone to AT&T, or you have to pay the remaining ~$400. So no, you don’t get to just keep the phone after 12 months.

  10. its not 75% anymore for Verizon its 100%

  11. DeAfMaCbOi (@DeAfMaCbOi) - 8 years ago

    Remember that AppleCare+ does not replace lost or stolen iPhone 6s………

  12. Devin Gingrich - 8 years ago

    You might want to change Sprint’s numbers to reflect the iPhone Forever program:!/

  13. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

    The Apple model includes AppleCare+, which is why it’s more expensive. DUH.

  14. Carla Franceschini Fraga - 8 years ago

    And when can we buy unlocked iphone 6S at Apple store?

  15. Danial M. Hassan - 8 years ago

    Price for T-Mobile is wrong.
    $20 monthly actually is for JUMP on Demand
    $27 monthly is for JUMP

    The different between them
    JUMP on Demand : 3x Upgrade, no insurance, lease program
    JUMP : 2x Upgrade, with insurance, EIP program

  16. Josh Martin (@jmarti252) - 8 years ago

    AppleCare in a monthly payment is the incentive for this plan. The chart above doesn’t show the complete picture. You have to include the extended warranty price of the carriers or AppleCare to every plan. And don’t be fooled by T-Mobile’s price. You are required to turn in your phone in order to get that deal. Again, this chart doesn’t show the complete picture.

    • Cory © (@Nardes) - 8 years ago


    • basboyblair - 8 years ago

      You only need to turn in your current phone or an older Smart Phone if your still under contract with another carrier and Tmobile are buying out your contract (which is a pre-paid Debit card that you have to wait 30-60 days to receive it…so you will have an outstanding bill with your carrier until then)

  17. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    From my understanding, with certain carriers upgrades are available but sometimes on limit phone ranges and sometimes you have to pay additional costs…

    I now live in Japan. There were hints of bringing this to other country, so I hope they bring it here… We need someone to rock the cellphone market here because currently the cellphone companies charge what they want, at very high prices, and the customer has little choice but to pay these prices…
    I currently get “unlimited data” at 7gb a month, free calls and messages to the same network but high costs to other networks, and no upgrade until the end of the 24month contract (there are no 12 month contract unless you pay for the phone in full)…

    So, i would love to pay what i am now (about $75) but be able to upgrade each year for free and still have apple care (in japan the $75 is about average, some people pay more…and this doesnt include apple care)… of course i would be more happy to pay less :-P

    (oh…and american iphones, even if unlocked, will not work in all international countries)

  18. traductopro - 8 years ago

    I’d say Apple is on par with the other $27-per-month-for-24-month options if you remove the AppleCare+

  19. Jim Phong - 8 years ago

    Unlocked and AppleCare+ it’s more just an incentive. It’s worth buying.

  20. pateljj04 - 8 years ago

    Does anyone know if you have to continue paying for the remaining time if you upgrade after 12 months or does it just get rolled over? For example for AT&T next you can upgrade but you have to continue paying off the phone right? Am I understanding that correctly?

    • macxpress - 8 years ago

      I’m going to assume you turn your phone in which covers the remaining balance of the phone as long as its in a condition that would warranty the value. Obviously you can’t turn in a 1yr iPhone with broken glass, massive scratches, non-functioning, etc. This has to be the only way you get out of continuing to pay for the phone for the 2nd year. Most unlocked iPhones are worth quite a bit even after 1yr.

      I guess maybe if you turn them back into Apple they just refurbish it and use them for giving to customers who need a replacement phone.

      • pateljj04 - 8 years ago

        Ah ok thanks, that is what I assumed. So with Apple if you wanted to keep the phone but still upgrade you would end up either paying off the remaining balance. It seems like a good deal.

  21. John Warren - 8 years ago

    There is one huge reason for going with Apple over the carrier. If you have a unlimited plan and want to use the carriers monthly plan you have to give up your unlimited plan. With Apple you don’t. That makes Apple the only way to fly.

    • I understand there will be two models now with the inclusion of the 30 band LTE on AT&T. I usually get my phones from Verizon as there unlocked and worked on AT&T since iPhone 5 . Now the 30 band version is not available on the CDMA version so will make it harder to choose/switch carriers…Thoughts??

  22. Zach Snyder - 8 years ago

    So Apple’s website states the following: “Launching at U.S. Apple Retail Stores. You can make a reservation online, starting at 12:01 a.m. PDT on September 12, to buy in store.” I assume this means that if I reserve a phone on the 12th, I will be guaranteed a phone on the 25th in-store, and will pay at that time. Seem right?

    • joshdoremus - 8 years ago

      That seems like what they are saying. At least I hope!

    • Cory © (@Nardes) - 8 years ago

      I talked to Apple Support about it yesterday, and that is correct. When you make a reservation, they will have a phone for you. If you can’t make a reservation until the following weekend, it is because all the phones are reserved until that following weekend.

      TL;DR: Whenever your reservation is… you will get your phone then :)

  23. macxpress - 8 years ago

    So would this make my Verizon bill lower? Would they make me change away from my ShareEverything plan? If I keep my current plan then it will cost me more to do this I think….maybe I’m not thinking correctly? I’m trying to see if this is better than just paying the $199 and then adding on another $129 for AppleCare+.

    • Cory © (@Nardes) - 8 years ago

      If you switch to their new SMLXL plan and go with the monthly payments, you will end up saving a little bit of money in the end. When I did the math for my wife and myself, upgrading to the 64GB 6S+, we will save ~$60 over the course of 2 years.

      Just look at it as if you keep your ShareEverything, you’re paying $40/mo per phone. With the SMLXL plans you are only paying $20/mo per phone… with that discount you’re “technically” only paying $12.41/mo per phone if you do the iPhone Upgrade Program with the 16GB 6s.

      SMLXL Plan: ($32.41phone monthly cost + $20/mo) x 24mo = $1,257.84

      Share Everything Plan: ($40/mo x 24mo) + $199phone cost + $129apple care= $1,288.00

      So when all said and done, you would come out $30.16 in the positive by switching, and have the option to upgrade after 12 months.

  24. Nick De Jong - 8 years ago

    If my contract is not up yet can I still upgrade with apples new program now? Since its an unlocked phone?

    • Cory © (@Nardes) - 8 years ago

      Yes… I talked to Verizon and you can do it… I’m selling my phone on NextWorth and got $412.50 for my phone (use code 9TO5MAC for a 10% bonus back!), which will cover almost all of the first year of my payments for my new phone!

  25. Can someone answer this or point me in the right direction (I went to the Apple store and 4 guys I spoke to, had no clue).

    Model A1633 and Model A1634 – This is what AT&T has confimed, it’ll sell because it supports their new/faster LTE band 30.
    LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)

    Model A1688 and Model A1687
    LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29)

    If I buy the phone through the Apple Upgrade Plan, I know the phone is unlocked. But will it be the Model A1633/34??? Anyway to confirm this?

    • I was shocked when I looked at the specs and realized that AT&T has it’s own model. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

      My apple store has no idea either. Will they offer the choice? Or are they selling the CDMA enabled model which (while it will work on AT&T) will eventually be lacking due to the missing band 30 support?

    • Brian Shim - 8 years ago

      Does anyone have an answer to this? Due to the high demand, most people could not reserve their iphone of choice with their specific carrier online. Since in the past, unlocked iphones could work with At&t, Verizon, and T-Mobile (except Sprint), I assumed it was okay to reserve an iphone that is not your specific carrier. Now with Apple announcing At&t will be having their own specific models apart from the other three carriers, I will like to know if we will able to use a verizon/t-mobile phone with an At&t cellular service.

  26. William - 8 years ago

    So what are the prices from the carriers with accidental damage coverage? Wouldn’t that be a fair apples-to-apples (no pun intended) comparison?

    • David J. Enriquez - 8 years ago

      AT&T mobile insurance starts at $6.99. This will cover basically everything, lost, stolen, and any physical damage. There’s a $200 declining deductible with $50 off if you submit a claim after 6 months, $100 if you submit a claim after 12 months.

  27. Jeremy Kahn - 8 years ago

    I believe AT&T waives the upgrade and activation fees when using their AT&T Next financing for the phone. Before you do the Apple iPhone upgrade plan, you should confirm whether those fees will be charged if using the Apple iPhone Upgrade plan instead of AT&T’s. I think the fees are about $40 each if I remember correctly. That would tilt the scales in favor of AT&T’s version instead of Apple’s.

    • Jeremy Kahn - 8 years ago

      I have a bit more information regarding the pros/cons of AT&T Next financing vs. the Apple iPhone Upgrade plan after talking to representatives at AT&T. If you are already on AT&T Next and have paid your 12 payments, you are eligible to upgrade your phone to the 6S or 6S+ for a $15 upgrade fee. With AT&T Next, if you want to ability to upgrade after 12 months, the charge is split over 20 months. For example, the 64gb iPhone 6S is $750, divided by 20 payments is $37.50 per month. If you plan to upgrade after 12 months, you will have paid $37.50*12 + $15 = $465. Plus if you have the AT&T insurance plan, that is another $6.99 per month ($84 over 12 months) bringing the total to $548.88.

      If you finance through Apple for the same phone, the cost of the phone is split over 24 months instead of 20, and AppleCare+ is included (though seemingly overcharged). The monthly charge for the same phone including AppleCare+ is $36.58 and if paying the full 24 months, the total would be $877.92 (much higher than the $750 with AT&T though only $10 more than supporting the AT&T insurance over the fully 20 month period). HOWEVER, if you plan to upgrade after only 12 months, you will be paying significantly less with the Apple Upgrade Plan: 36.50*12= $438.96. Plus there are NO fees for bringing your own device to AT&T (i.e. no $15 upgrade fee and no activation fee) and you get the added benefit of AppleCare for the full time you have the phone (though it would not cover loss/theft of the device like the AT&T insurance). Basically you save ~$17 if you do not have currently have AT&T insurance and you save ~$110 over 12 months if you are currently paying for AT&T insurance and cancel it since you would have AppleCare+.

      There is however 2 other things to consider if you go with the Apple financing: First, you will need to continue to pay off your existing AT&T Next phone. You can either buy it out by paying the balance and sell it, or you can continue to pay monthly and use it for a family member on your account, but either way, you are paying the balance and therefore the full price of the phone. Second, you cannot pre-order a phone online and have it sent to you if you do the Apple upgrade plan. It looks like you will need to make a reservation at an Apple Store and purchase it in person. This means you may not get your phone as quickly as you would have otherwise.

      Hope the helps.

  28. Zerilos (@Zerilos) - 8 years ago

    I’m signed up for T-mobile jump on demand. You are only “leasing” the phone. After 18 months, you are given the option to purchase it. I will have to spend $189 to “purchase” my phone. Because I traded a phone in, I’m only paying $18 a month.

  29. Brian Gill - 8 years ago

    I have unlimited data through Verizon. Can I buy the iPhone at Apple then activate it at verizon without changing my plan???

  30. Isn’t buying outright and reselling after 1 year still the best solution by far? I’m not clear what happens with these programs, does the phone go back to the company or do I have to buy it to resell it?

  31. Can someone explain to me how this works? If I am to sign a 24 month lease for the iPhone 6S and in 12 months, I trade in and get the new iPhone 7, do I need to sign another 24 month lease (I.e total of 3 years)? If there is no second lease, what happens in 24 months? Do I get to keep the iPhone 7 and considered that paid off?

    • My understanding is that you start the Apple Upgrade Program based on a 24-month commitment to pay off the device they give you at that time. If you do decide to upgrade in 12 months, then the 24-month period starts all over again. I haven’t seen anything about a trade-in discount when decide to upgrade, but hopefully that’s something Apple will make provision for.

      If you decide not to upgrade in 12 months and you complete the original 24-month agreement with the original phone, then the phone is yours.

      Basically, Apple’s creating a new consistent revenue stream based on these monthly payments. In theory, you can budget for yourself to pay the monthly fee for the rest of your life and always upgrade to the latest phone when it comes out.

  32. Matt Tilmann (@mtilmann) - 8 years ago

    I’ve an iPhone 6 Plus with Verizon that we’re still paying on, is there a way to get a T-Mobile SIM card to use in it, without necessarily signing up with them?

  33. Jordan Marton - 8 years ago

    But if you stay with Verizon, aren’t you still paying the subsidized plan cost? I thought that phone plans were priced to help pay back the subsidized phone cost. If I buy an unlocked phone, or rent from Apple, does Verizon still charge me the same amount for the plan??

    • Kyle Braund (@kgbraund) - 8 years ago

      Yes, I have the same Q. I am 12 mo into my VZ contract for my iPhone 6 Plus. Looks like we may be paying twice if we go with the Apple Upgrade Program?

      • Bob Mangold - 8 years ago

        I am in the same exact boat as you… Here’s what VZ rep told me tonight on the phone…. I can buy the new phone from Apple and then swap it into my current plan. No harm there I just swapped phones on the same plan I have today. I can then switch to the new Verizon Plan (which is cheaper than my current plan). Because the new activated phone is my own phone, and not subsidized, the new plan will have the $20/mo line access charge instead of the $40/mo line access charge (as it does now for my subsidized phone). I pushed him on this, and fe told me this will work (stepped on the line to verify with supervisor) and I can keep the old phone (which I will promptly sell for $$$).

        I took down his name and he told me he would note my file that we spoke about this, but I’m still a bit skeptical. If all else fails I’ll break my contract and use the profits from selling my phone to pay the ETF. Then I’ll start fresh with a new plan, most likely still at Verizon. The deal won’t be as sweet, but I’m willing to pay a penalty now to jump out of the contract and get into the leasing plan with Apple and have a new phone every year.

  34. William Reid - 8 years ago

    Is apple going to require a deposit?

  35. telecastle - 8 years ago

    Here’s my take on this: If your employer offers you a choice of providers and pays for your smart phone (at least partially), choose Verizon regardless on which carrier you plan to use it with. You can either go with the plan that your employer offers or you can go with your own plan with the carrier of your choice. If you decide to go with a GSM carrier other than Verizon, all you will need to do is to get a SIM card from that carrier and pay for a plan you choose (pre-pay or post-pay – whatever you like). Once you get a Verizon iPhone (or any other smart phone), you have an option to use any carrier. When you travel outside the US, you can take this phone with you and just buy a local pre-paid GSM card in any country and you will not have to roam. This is the best choice.

    If your employer is not covering the cost of your iPhone, your choices are to take a plunge into the T-Mobile extended LTE promise and take them up on their offer to get the iPhone unlocked if you don’t like their service, or I would go straight the the Apple store and get an unlocked version of their phone. One thing to keep in mind is that in the past, Apple’s version of the unlocked iPhone did not include the CDMA bands. I’m not sure what the situation is like with iPhone 6s. Is it the same model that they sell as an unlocked model that works with any carrier, or do they have several different models among the unlocked phones they sell? That I’m not sure about. If you think there’s a chance you may want to switch to Verizon at one point, you would probably be better off getting an unlocked phone from Apple that is slated for Verizon because that model will also support GSM bands, so you could later switch to AT&T, T-Mobile, or some other carrier. I’m also not sure if the Verizon phone is compatible with Sprint – since both use different bands of the CDMA standard. To me, Sprint is ALWAYS out of the picture, so I’m not worried much about the Sprint compatibility. Verizon, even though the more expensive option, sometimes is the best choice. It’s helpful to have a Verizon SIM card from your employer in your wallet and use an AT&T SIM card in the iPhone (that is on your personal Family Share plan), as AT&T has better LTE speeds in most places, but in certain areas of the US, Verizon is the only option to have a reliable mobile phone service.

  36. george1620 - 8 years ago

    I think there’s plenty of incentive. The iPhone comes unlocked and with the best aaccidental damage protection (AppleCare+) on the market already bundled with it. You’re not going to get either of those with the carriers. People love for their iPhones to be unlocked.

  37. george1620 - 8 years ago

    AppleCare+ costs $99, not $129, by the way.

  38. chasinvictoria - 8 years ago

    I hate to be critical, but this article couldn’t be more wrong. By ignoring the bonus of AppleCare+, by ignoring the bonus of unlocked, and by ignoring the extra payments carriers often charge to unlock phones or “fees” to allow you to keep the iPhone permanently, the article paints a completely false picture of the value. Verizon, which includes the unlocking, comes the closest, and when you look at their “total cost” ($650) and then add in the $129 for AppleCare+, their “total cost” jumps to $779 — the same price as Apple’s. All the other carriers will charge you for unlocking (if they allow it at all) of around $50, plus you don’t get AppleCare+, and Apple gives you a new, also-unlocked, also-AppleCare-covered new iPhone each year — something none of the other carriers do — so their “total costs” are pretty misleading.

    The article also specifically omits T-Mobile’s $164 extra charge at the end of term to keep the iPhone if you decide to do that — making their total cost to keep the phone $688, which actually makes them the most expensive (once you add in the cost of the AppleCare+).

    For a device like the iPhone, the AppleCare+ is a crucial purchase for many people. I’ve never needed it for my previous iPhones (I treat them as though they were expensive objects, and am happily not accident-prone), but it’s generally foolish not to buy it these days. The bottom line here is that the Apple program is, in fact, the best value overall (as usual). All the others simply unbundle unlocking and AppleCare+ to give the illusion of a lower cost, and I’m surprised 9to5 was so easily fooled by this.

    • Dan Bo - 8 years ago

      Exactly!!!! Well said… And the people who are referencing the fact that carrier insurance plans cover lost or stolen iPhones should also know that when they get their iPhone replaced with Assurion (or whatever junk service they are named) it is with 3rd party parts and effectively VOIDS Apples warranty. Apple Care+ is the only way to go.

  39. chasinvictoria - 8 years ago

    Before anyone else jumps on me, allow me to jump on myself — I was wrong about T-Mobile’s offer, it includes the payoff charge and thus is (as correctly reported in the chart and article) about $125 cheaper than the other plans (depending on what they charge for unlocking) — which means the savings does nearly allow one to afford the AppleCare+ for an effective net of free. My apologies to Jordan for getting that wrong, but the rest of my criticism stands.

  40. There is huge incentive switching over the the iPhone financing option in that it allows you to be free of a carrier. The iPhone financing option give you an unlocked iPhone as some other carriers, like VZW. The change factor is a user will, most often than not, keep the iPhone they currently have but want to change their carrier. Many iPhone users have businesses that are international so being able to spend $389 to have the phone for a year and have it covered under the AppleCare + program is a value. The advantage is one can switch carriers, countries, and upgrade to the new iPhone NO STRINGS ATTACHED.

  41. Does anyone know if the phone you get under this program can be used with a resale carrier like StraightTalk Wireless? I imagine that it would be able to since it’s “unlocked”, but Apple only makes mention of the “major” carriers on their information pages.

  42. Rishabh Karnani - 8 years ago

    Hi, I wanted to pre-order I phone 6s but I would be going back to India in two months so I wanted an Unlocked iPhone 6s but Apple website does not have an option to buy a sim-free 6s. Any suggestions as to what I should buy?
    Will a T-Mobile Iphone 6s ordered from the apple website be unlocked out of the box and will it work on other networks like AT&T and other networks in countries like India?

  43. DJ Peluso (@binkky) - 8 years ago

    I feel like i’m in the twilight zone. The numbers displayed for ATT are for the 64GB 6S model, not the 16GB. I’m willing to bet that that’s the same across the board. ATT next for 64 pricing is 32 / 27 / 21. Pricing for the 16 is 27/22/18. I’m not the only one that picked that out am I?

    • DJ Peluso (@binkky) - 8 years ago

      What is also not shown in the chart is the discounts per carrier per line. If you use Next for ATT, you get a $25 line connection discount. If you use the apple upgrade, you only get a $15 discount. If you subsidize, you get no discount and pay full line connection charge of $40 per month. I’m sure at least Verizon has similar structure, probably not so much for Sprint an T-Mobile.

      • DJ Peluso (@binkky) - 8 years ago

        Sorry, my reply at least appears to have already been covered above…but maybe in greater detail here. If next, you pay 15 per month per line. If apple you pay 25. If subsidy, you pay 40.

      • Sam Bergin - 8 years ago

        Actually, the per-line fee is $25 or $15 based on your data plan, not whether you buy from Apple or AT&T. From their website, with the asterisk referring to a $15 per-line charge quoted further up: “*This discounted access charge pricing includes all No Annual Service Contract options, which are AT&T NextSM, bring your own phone or tablet, purchase at full price, or month-to-month.”

  44. Isaac Katzav - 8 years ago

    Question just so I am not becoming a dumb ass…sorry for being silly here.
    If I take apple 24 installment plan and then after 12 months upgrade (give them the 6S Plus back and get a 7 Plus) … for the second year 12 months I am still only paying what I paid in the first year (lets assume it is $45) I am not paying double that ($90), correct?

    Then after two years if I want to exchange the 7 Plus with 7S Plus, I will start a new payments plan correct?

    ** Assuming I am choosing same capacity and the new 7Plus phone cost the same so the plan is the same

  45. Sandra Castillo - 8 years ago

    Applecare for the iPhone( any iPhone) is $99.00

  46. josephferranti - 8 years ago

    So what is the benefit of going to Apple and buying a new phone and doing a monthly payment? You are paying a monthly payment for the phone on top of the monthly payment that you pay for your cell service (we have Verizon). It seems logical sense to go your carrier and buy the phone from them so it ties into your monthly bill. Unless I am missing something?

  47. There is one thing that is sorely needing to be added to the chart– T-Mobile’s monthly JUMP! Installments– an extra $10 per month, effectively raising even the $20 price to $30 a month for the 16GB model. Please add all the respective carrier’s monthly fees for their upgrade programs (AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, etc.).

  48. Jon Hutchison - 8 years ago

    I’m a T-Mobile customer. I have the original JUMP! EIP plan. I want the 64gb 6S. Here’s how it compares to Apple’s iPhone upgrade program:

    Upfront cost: $161 – $99 down payment + tax
    Cost monthly: $37 – $27 equipment payment + insurance and JUMP! program fee
    Total cost over 12 months: $605

    Upfront cost: $61 – Maybe tax, not sure?
    Cost monthly: $37
    Total cost over 12 months: $505

    I’m saving $100 over the course of 12 months by going with Apple. Now, I could go through the process of going to Jump on Demand, but when you think about the added coverage of Applecare+, an unlocked iPhone that I could theoretically take to any other carrier if I wanted, and being able to upgrade the phone through Apple instead of T-Mobile who has, historically, been awful during upgrade periods its more worth it to me.

  49. JP (@downtube) - 8 years ago

    So help me understand this. If I’m buying a phone using apple’s payment plan, does it even matter what carrier I select when reserving a phone? And if it doesn’t matter, why is apple even bothering to ask? Seems like from what I’m reading, I get get whatever iPhone they happen to have in stock, but whatever carrier’s SIM in it and I’m good to go…?

  50. ianh11 - 8 years ago

    Applecare provides “coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage.” If you use both on your first phone, and upgrade your phone after a year, does your allowed “number of incidents” reset for the new phone?

  51. nik (@n13) - 8 years ago

    For people like me who buy unlocked iPhones this is an incredible deal. I pay the same as I would getting a new phone every 2 years (unlocked) – but it’s spread out over the life of the phone, I get AppleCare+ thrown in for free, AND I get a new phone every year instead of every 2.

    In countries where all phones are bought unlocked and full price, this will massively increase Apple’s (already high) market share.

  52. Nate Larson - 7 years ago

    These prices are not accurate because all carriers require insurance with these leasing agreements. Sprints for example is $13! With the apple upgrade program the insurance is included in the price. Apple costs $32 per month while Sprint costs $35 not $22.

  53. Chad'sGamingWorld - 7 years ago

    can i pay monthly for a sim free


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.