For a good chunk of people, the years of upgrading to the latest iPhone each Fall have passed. For the most part, it’s only true fans of tech whose pockets are filled with new-iPhone-shaped holes.
But even if you are one of these annual upgraders, you’ve no doubt noticed that replacing your iPhone year after year is no cheap expenditure. That’s why Apple offers the iPhone Upgrade Program, a deal that will satisfy your need for the new without completely bruising your wallet.
What is Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program?
The iPhone Upgrade Program is a membership of sorts that you can sign up for on Apple’s website. Once joined, you’ll pay the standard monthly payment for a two-year iPhone contract (around $35/month at the time of writing), and at the end of that contract, you can automatically upgrade to the newest iPhone.
But there’s a catch – or a benefit, rather. Instead of paying the full two-years for that contract, you can simply upgrade to the latest iPhone after 12 full payments.
In other words, the iPhone Upgrade Program allows you to pay (roughly) half-price for an iPhone over twelve months, and on the thirteenth month, you can upgrade to whatever the latest iPhone is. This allows you to consistently upgrade to the newest iPhone without ever having to pay full price.
How does it work?
First, as mentioned, you sign up for the program on Apple’s website. As a caveat, this deal is only available in the U.S., China, and the U.K., and you’ll need to meet some prerequisites:
- You must be 18 years or older
- You must have a decent credit score
- You need a valid credit/debit card (Apple Card will do just fine)
- You need a device that’s eligible to upgrade (in other words, you join the program by upgrading your current device)
Like most financing programs, Apple treats this as a loan of sorts, so you’ll need to meet certain creditworthiness standards. As the payments are fairly low, however, most people should qualify.
Additionally, Apple Care+ is included in the cost. Apple makes it sound like this is a feature of the program (and it sort of is) but it’s a non-optional feature. That’s why you’ll notice the monthly cost is a bit higher than if you were just going to purchase a new iPhone without the plan.
After twelve payments, assuming Apple has a new iPhone available (which they surely will) you can apply to upgrade through the program. You’ll then trade in your current phone for the new one. To trade in your iPhone, it will need to be free of a cracked screen, damaged buttons or ports, and in reasonable working condition (hence the required Apple Care+ subscription).
What about carriers?
One last detail that you might be wondering about is data carriers – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, you know the gang. When you purchase an iPhone through the upgrade program, you can choose a new carrier for your iPhone every time you upgrade.
In effect, this frees you from the phone contracts that lock so many people into their cellular provider. You’ll only have to pay for service through your mobile operator of choice, so you won’t be bound by two-year contracts and the like.
Is Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program worth it?
If you already upgrade annually and don’t mind spending the annual dough, then the iPhone Upgrade Program is probably a pretty good value for you. But for those who want to make sure their money is being put to good use, you may want to consider carefully before signing up.
- It’s simple. The iPhone Upgrade Program is pretty straightforward. If you don’t want to put a lot of thought into your annual upgrades, this is for you.
- You’ll always have the latest iPhone. It’s like a subscription service for iPhone upgrades.
- You’ll always have Apple Care+. Though you will have to pay for it, the price of Apple Care+ is spaced out over 24 months indefinitely, so you pay a small monthly fee (around $4/month) which will give you free or more affordable repairs on your device.
- No interest.
- Flexible carrier options.
- You’ll only be paying slightly more than you pay already.
- You can opt-out whenever you want by choosing not to upgrade.
- Not a lot of options. When you use the iPhone Upgrade Program, you really only have two options: Upgrade, or don’t. You can’t “upgrade” to an iPhone that has already been replaced with a newer iPhone, even if the replacement is newer than your current device (i.e., you can’t upgrade from the iPhone 11 to the iPhone 12 if the iPhone 13 is currently available).
- No trade-in. Even though you have to “trade-in” your iPhone when you upgrade, you don’t get any trade-in value for your doing so. That’s at least a couple hundred bucks you’ll never see.
- Requires a credit check. It’s a soft pull, which isn’t too bad, but you will need to maintain a decent score to continue participating.
- Not much else. There are tons of other ways to upgrade your iPhone every year, either by doing it yourself or through a carrier, and most of these options (while more complicated) will give you a much better value. The only thing the iPhone Upgrade Program really has to offer members is consistency and simplicity; beyond that, you won’t experience any savings or special perks.
How to sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program
To sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program, visit this link and click the blue Join now button.
After doing so, a screen will appear asking which iPhone you want to upgrade to. You’ll no doubt notice that your only options are the newest iPhones available. If you already own one of these options, then you’ll want to wait for the next release to join the program.
Once you’ve selected your iPhone, Apple will check your eligibility (credit score, age, region, etc.). If all goes well, your new device will be mailed to you, your monthly payments will kick in, and Apple will ask if you want to send in your current device.
iPhone Upgrade Program vs. Apple Card Installments
If you have an Apple Card (Apple’s titanium credit card) then you’ve probably heard by now that you can use it to make monthly installments on new Apple purchases. This allows you to buy a new MacBook, iPad, or iPhone through your credit card rather than paying the full price upfront.
So what’s the difference between buying an iPhone through Apple Card or using the iPhone Upgrade Program?
The only benefit to using Apple Card installments instead of the Upgrade Program is flexibility. You can pay off your iPhone as quickly or as slowly as you like, change carriers whenever you like (as opposed to annually), and you don’t have to purchase Apple Care+. However, you can’t upgrade until you pay off your current iPhone in full, so it’s not ideal for annual upgrades.
In our opinion, purchasing an iPhone through Apple Card is a good idea for a general upgrade. If you’re interested in annual upgrades, then stick to the iPhone Upgrade Program.
Can you cancel the iPhone Upgrade Program?
Sort of, but not really. Like any financing contract, you are signing a contract when you participate in this program. To opt-out of the iPhone Upgrade Program, you’ll have to wait the two years that it takes to finish paying off your iPhone and Apple Care+ plan, or you’ll have to pay the price off in full beforehand.
What is the iPhone Upgrade Program?
The iPhone Upgrade Program is a plan Apple users can sign up for that allows you to upgrade your iPhone annually. Rather than paying the full price off of your current iPhone, you can simply upgrade to the latest iPhone after twelve payments on your previous device.
How does the iPhone Upgrade Program work?
You can join the iPhone Upgrade Program by purchasing the latest iPhone through the program. Then, assuming you meet the requirements, you can upgrade to the next newest iPhone after twelve on-time payments. You can then repeat this process for as long as you want.
Is the iPhone Upgrade Program worth it?
The iPhone Upgrade Program is a decent deal for those who already upgrade every year anyway, as it greatly simplifies the process. However, you will get more bang for your buck by trading your device in, watching for carrier deals, and holding onto your device for longer.