Thursday, September 10, 2015

The best way to purchase your new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus is...

Earlier this week, Apple announced a slew of new products, including their latest iPhones, the 6S and 6S Plus. The iPhones can be preordered starting September 12th, and they will be widely available on September 25th.  With the same storage options as the iPhone 6, the 16GB iPhone 6S starts at $199 on-contract, and 64GB and 128GB versions can be yours for $299 and $399, respectively. The larger iPhone 6S Plus will run you a bit more, starting at $299, and is also available in 64GB and 128GB flavors ($399 and $499, respectively) as well.
But Apple wants these prices to be a thing of the past, as the major carriers have done away (for the most part) with traditional two-year contracts and are moving toward 24-month payment plans. This way, instead of paying a large chunk of the cost of the phone up front when you sign a new contract, the carriers (AT&T and Verizon etc.) spread that cost over the life of your plan. So earlier this week, Apple jumped into the fray with The iPhone Upgrade Program.
The program is down right fantastic!  First and foremost, you'll be able to get a new iPhone every year, that's right, every year!  Second, the iPhone is unlocked — allowing you can choose which carrier you'd like to use!  That's right folks, unhappy with your carrier, leave-em!  Third,  you'll pay for the phone with low monthly payments, instead of paying the subsidized cost of the phone up front. And finally, the Upgrade Program comes with AppleCare+.
Not sure if you agree, but this is an AWESOME plan, and something that's long overdue!  That sounds like a decent deal, especially with the inclusion of AppleCare+.  Too compare and show you just how good this plan is, I'm going to break it down and see how it stacks up against the major carriers, using the base iPhone 6S and all the 24-month plans as my reference.
The iPhone Upgrade Program is nothing more than a 24-month installment plan. Once you've paid 12 monthly installments as part of that agreement, you'll be able to swap your phone for a new one. Just remember — this essentially resets the clock on the 24 months, meaning that you're now starting another two-year agreement. Apple has yet to share information on whether (or how it will be done) you can opt out of that 24 month agreement.
The major carriers offer the option of paying the remaining balance of the value of the phone if you want out of their agreements early, and each has its own structure for when you can upgrade. For instance, AT&T will let you upgrade your phone after 18 months, Sprint will let you upgrade whenever the latest iPhone is released, and T-Mobile will let you upgrade after 12 months. Verizon's payment plan is, far and away, the worst here — allowing you to upgrade only after your iPhone has been paid off in full.

The next feature is HUGE!  Apple is selling you an unlocked iPhone as part of the Upgrade Program, which allows you to take it to any of the four major carriers for the service. You shouldn't have a problem bringing the phone to any of the carriers for activation, and it means you can jump from one to another if need be.

Buying an iPhone through any of the carriers, however, removes this luxury. Only Verizon sells unlocked iPhones and when they do, the installment plans they offer are most certainly not applicable.



The picture above shows Apple's new program, and where the value truly comes from. A 16GB iPhone 6S will cost you $32.41 per month, and prices scale up accordingly with bigger storage options as well as the iPhone 6S Plus. A fantastic part of this plan, is that it includes the $129 cost of AppleCare+, which gives you a two-year warranty and allows for two full replacements of the phone if you accidentally damage it (at a $100 per replacement fee). The installment plan is financed by a loan from Citizens Bank, which means you'll likely have to pass a credit check before you get your phone. You also have to schedule an appointment to buy your iPhone in-store — the iPhone Upgrade program will not be offered online.  
Here is where you need to be careful...the carriers are all advertising monthly payments lower than what Apple tells you up front for the 16GB iPhone 6S. Verizon's 24-month payment program and AT&T's "Next 18" 24-month plan each cost $27.09 per month. T-Mobile’s standard 24-month program costs $27.08 per month, while its "Jump on Demand" option, which lets you upgrade up to three times per year, costs $27.00 per month. And Sprint's "iPhone Forever" program is quoted at $22.00 per month. But these prices Do Not include insurance, and this is the key.  When the carriers insurance gets added in, each of the carriers' payment plans — except for Sprint's — winds up being $2 or more a month MORE than Apple's.

To me, the ultimate attraction of the new iPhone Upgrade Program is that it includes the AppleCare+, which  outside of the program  costs $129 for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. AppleCare+ extends the iPhones hardware warranty to two full years, but the real value comes from accidental damage coverage. The AppleCare+ coverage allows for two instances of accidental damage, but the replacement fee is $99. That's far better than paying the full cost of a new screen or an entirely iPhone if you drop (or bend) your phone, but it's not necessarily cheap.

The carriers offer an numerous insurance options, but even the lowest levels all bump the monthly price of their installment plans up over the price of Apple's new iPhone Upgrade plan. Buying the carriers insurance will not only allow you to replace your phone if it's damaged, similar Apple Care+, but also if it's stolen or lost. You pay a lot more for this, though — the deductibles are usually $175 or $200, considerable higher than Apple's $99 replacement fee.

My final thoughts here...Apple's plan is cheaper than the comparable option offered by the major carriers, and you get an unlocked iPhone out of it as well. AppleCare+ does not cover your iPhone if its lost or is stolen, and you won't pay as much to replace your iPhone, should you happen drop and break it. If you're not concerned with insurance at all, it's probably worth your time to seek the payment plans from the carrier of your choice. But, if you want the new iPhone, a decent level of insurance, and don't want to sign a traditional two-year contract, Apple's new iPhone Upgrade Program is the best option around.  

Look for more news on the latest products out of Cupertino to follow soon!  Thanks for reading, and until next time...best to you and your devices!





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