How does Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program Work?

How does Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program Work?

Its been 3 years now since Apple unveiled its iPhone Upgrade Program and it still garnering confusion, and misinformation.


The iPhone Upgrade Program allows you to get an iPhone for monthly installments, and upgrade each year to a new model for free. No more being locked for 24 months to a carrier. No more waiting to upgrade to the newest iPhone until your plan is up.

It’s actually a decent deal. It’s very close to what car dealerships do with their leasing options. You get a new vehicle every few years when you turn in yours, or keep paying until you’ve paid off the car you currently have.

Same deal with Apple’s iPhones.


The way it works is simple really, it’s a low payment plan for an iPhone that lets you get a brand new model every year, or keep the one you have by making a total of 24 payments.

So how does it work?:

  1. Start the plan and you can choose between one of the available iPhones from Apple. You do not need to turn in an existing iPhone when you start the plan. No down payments, nothing. You don’t even need to own a phone to start it.
  2. After 12 months of payments, you have an option. Trade up to the new model, or keep your current one. If you choose to trade up to the new model, you simply return your current one, and you get a new one. No extra payments, or anything. Just like that. Except, your plan, resets, to month 0, so you start again making payments on whatever new iPhone you got for the next 12 months, and the cycle repeats again.
  3. If you chose to keep your current model, and skip trade up, then you can keep making payments for another 12 months on it, and at that point, the iPhone is yours. No more payments need to be made after 24 months.

Now, lets do some math:

In 2015 a 128GB Rose Gold iPhone 6sPlus would cost you outright (in the U.S.A): $949.00 dollars.

If you went for the Plan, and chose the upgrade at the 12 month mark: You would have payed $44.91 * 12 = $538.92. That’s a little over 56% of the iPhone’s full retail price. At that point you can get a new one.

But say you chose to not upgrade, then you keep paying the $44.91 for another 12 months. In that case the total cost of the iPhone comes to: $1077.84. So about $128.00 more than retail. Not such a good deal then is it? Or is it?

The Upgrade Plan includes Apple Care +. A $129.00 value. Which ends up making the 24 month deal $1 dollar less, then if you buy it outright.

All in all, the 12 month upgrade option is a pretty good one, if you don’t mind paying for your iPhone every month for as long as you keep upgrading.

To get out, you need to complete a 24 month cycle without upgrading. Which itself, is a pretty decent deal.

The added benefit, of Apple’s payment plan, is that you can change carriers whenever you want.

If you take this plan, instead of your carriers upgrade option, then, you are no longer tied to your carrier. You should be able to cancel your service with them at any time, and port your number to a different carrier.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need to turn in my current iPhone to start the Upgrade Program?

    No, you can start an upgrade program even if you do not own a cell phone at all. You just sign up for the plan, and you get an iPhone.

  2. Does my Cell Service contract have to be up, or do I have to be eligible for an upgrade with my carrier to start the upgrade program with Apple?

    No. The upgrade program is completely independent of you carrier. Whether your still in contract with them or not, you can start the program with Apple.

  3. Do I need to make a down payment to start the Upgrade Plan?

    No, not at all. There are no down payments, or signup fees.

  4. Do I need to own an iPhone to start the Upgrade Plan

    No. You don’t even need to own a cell phone at all to start the Upgrade plan.

  5. Are the iPhone’s you get on the upgrade plan unlocked?

    Yes. Apple will give you an unlocked iPhone of your choice, when you start a plan, so you can use it with any carrier.

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