Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program
Categories: Tech

Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program

Today is the day. The iPhone 6S is officially launching in stores and people are lining up around blocks all over the world outside of Apple stores to purchase theirs. We know all the swoon-worthy details of the new phone including the hot rose gold color option, the game-changing 3D Touch, Live Photos, the practically unbendable exterior and the feature-packed new iOS 9. Some of you might be toying with the idea of signing up with Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, which promises to give you a new iPhone every year without contracts, carriers and the like. Sounds pretty excellent, doesn’t it?

We-ell, not exactly. There’s some fine print you should probably know about before you sign up.

First of all, you DO need to sign up with a carrier when you purchase your phone through the Apple Upgrade Program — and not just any carrier, but one of the Big Four (that’s Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint). Once you walk out of the store, however, you’re free to cancel the plan. Having a carrier “unlocked” phone gives you the freedom to sign up with any network that supports the iPhone 6S, including pre-paid carriers like Cricket Wireless (AT&T-owned) and Virgin Mobile (Sprint-owned). And yes, it also means that when you travel internationally, you can pop in a foreign sim and use your phone overseas. AHHH!! However, if you end up signing a two-year contract with a major carrier, there is a possibility they will disable this option, so double-check before you sign.

Here’s the monthly price breakdown of what you’ll pay for the iPhone Upgrade Program, which is contracted through Citizen’s Bank. You’re eligible to upgrade after 12 monthly installments of varying prices depending on the model and storage tier you select — however, you are locked in for a 24-month agreement. That means when you’re finished with the Program and you’ve skipped the latest upgrade, you’ll still be paying installments on your last phone for a year before you’re done. Clever, Apple.

Upgrading to the plan will have some serious perks, like AppleCare+ tacked on within your monthly fee. What’s that, you ask? It’s Apple’s specialized iPhone AppleCare support plan that provides you with phone support, software tips and even two years of insurance for accidental damages incurred on your handset. Of course, there’s always conditions for what kinds of repairs and coverage this plan actually covers, so be sure to read the fine print on that as well.

While you are going to be leasing a phone, it’s just like leasing a car. You’re going to want to keep the phone in relatively decent condition in order to have a seamless trade-in. According to the Program’s Terms and Conditions, the financed phone must:

  • Power on and hold a charge;
  • Have an intact and functioning display;
  • Have no breaks or cracks; and
  • Have Activation Lock disabled (you may be asked to disable at the time of upgrade).

A few things to note. To take part in the plan, you’ll need to be at least 18 years of age, have a valid US credit card (debit cards and pre-paid cards like the Visa gift card are NOT accepted), an SSN for your credit check, two forms of ID as well as your current phone + wireless plan info. You’ll need to apply for the plan in-store (obviously based on this exhaustive list of what you need to bring).

You can reserve your phone for iPhone Upgrade Program starting tomorrow morning.

All in all, it’s still a pretty great deal but you should always know the details before you sign up for anything!

Will you be using the iPhone Upgrade Program? Tell us in the comments below!

(h/t CNET, photos via Apple)