T-Mobile, Sprint poised to pick up subscribers from Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2015
Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program appears to be leading U.S. phone buyers away from AT&T and Verizon toward carriers with cheaper fees such as T-Mobile and Sprint, a report said on Monday.




T-Mobile credited the September quarter, its best iPhone quarter ever, partly to people buying their devices through Apple, according to Bloomberg. Sprint meanwhile is only due to reveal its quarterlies on Tuesday, but analysts are expecting the carrier to pick up 321,000 subscribers in a fourth consecutive quarter of user growth, at least some of them being iPhone Upgrade Program members.

Apple only launched the program in September alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and there are no precise figures on how many people have signed up. Analyst forecasts have called for anywhere between 3 and 9 million in the first year.

At a minimum of $32 a month for two years, the program is relatively expensive compared to some carrier-based leasing options, but it does offer a new unlocked iPhone every year including an AppleCare+ warranty. This frees owners to switch carriers at will.

T-Mobile and Sprint have both been aggressive about offering cheaper smartphone plans, potentially making them a natural destination for people not locked into contract. AT&T and Verizon typically have better coverage, although the gap is diminishing.

People wanting to enter the iPhone Upgrade Program must currently do so through an Apple Store. During a recent results call, Apple CEO Tim Cook signalled a desire to eliminate that obstacle.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    So I look forward to seeing if this might solve our dilemma.

    My wife and I are with AT&T and have been since the original iPhone so grandfathered in with unlimited data and I am on a buddy phone on the wife's account. Obviously we are stuck with the AT&T two year update cycle with this and we always update my wife's as she is a realtor and I am retired, so I get her cast off every two years and we switch the numbers over.

    Trying to see how both of us on the Apple plan it's hard to see the big picture in terms of costs versus what we have now. I would not be able to get the hand me down as they have to be returned I believe. Then there is no unlimited data if we go to AT&T and renegotiate with our own iPhones .. It's very hard to see the wood for the trees.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    So I look forward to seeing if this might solve our dilemma.



    My wife and I are with AT&T and have been since the original iPhone so grandfathered in with unlimited data and I am on a buddy phone on the wife's account. Obviously we are stuck with the AT&T two year update cycle with this and we always update my wife's as she is a realtor and I am retired, so I get her cast off every two years and we switch the numbers over.



    Trying to see how both of us on the Apple plan it's hard to see the big picture in terms of costs versus what we have now. I would not be able to get the hand me down as they have to be returned I believe. Then there is no unlimited data if we go to AT&T and renegotiate with our own iPhones .. It's very hard to see the wood for the trees.

     

     

    If you don't trade in, you keep it when it is payed off.  It is an installment loan, with the option to trade back in after 12 months.

  • Reply 3 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    chadbag wrote: »

    If you don't trade in, you keep it when it is payed off.  It is an installment loan, with the option to trade back in after 12 months.

    Ok, thanks, but to do the math do we know the value the trade in Apple will offer?
  • Reply 4 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    Ok, thanks, but to do the math do we know the value the trade in Apple will offer?



    I don't think you do, as you just get the new version of whatever you had and continue paying, or adjust to a newer (say from 6S to 6S+ or whatever the iPhone 7 versions are, presumptively).  If you trade in after 12, you sign another deal and just pay on the new deal.  In that case it equates to a sort of "lease" or "rental" program.

  • Reply 5 of 20

    It's not a trade-in, it's a lease. You hand the phone back at the end of the year and get a new one.  In your situation, there's possibly a sweet-spot keeping your existing AT&T service with a new iPhone every 2 years for one of you and using the Apple iUP to refresh the other phone every year; there's a slightly more complex phone-go-round that envisages keeping the AT&T phone for 3 years and leasing from Apple every other year.

  • Reply 6 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mde24 View Post

     

    It's not a trade-in, it's a lease. You hand the phone back at the end of the year and get a new one.  In your situation, there's possibly a sweet-spot keeping your existing AT&T service with a new iPhone every 2 years for one of you and using the Apple iUP to refresh the other phone every year; there's a slightly more complex phone-go-round that envisages keeping the AT&T phone for 3 years and leasing from Apple every other year.




    We'd have to read the contract.   The fine print I read on the website (not the contract) leads me to believe it is an installment purchase contract with the option to trade in and sign a new contract and get a new device, and not a lease.    Though it feels like a lease if you are trading in.    I'd be happy to be pointed at details on how it works.  



    You can however completely pay the device off and keep it.  You are not required to trade in.

  • Reply 7 of 20

    T-Mobile totally rocks!

     

    They just announced a free a new 4G LTE CellSpot offering 4G LTE from WiFi where ever you want it.

    They say the service is free but there is a one time $25 refundable fee for the Personal Cell-Spot box.

     

    image 

  • Reply 8 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mde24 View Post

     

    It's not a trade-in, it's a lease. You hand the phone back at the end of the year and get a new one.  In your situation, there's possibly a sweet-spot keeping your existing AT&T service with a new iPhone every 2 years for one of you and using the Apple iUP to refresh the other phone every year; there's a slightly more complex phone-go-round that envisages keeping the AT&T phone for 3 years and leasing from Apple every other year.




    The Apple plan is NOT a lease. It is explicitly a loan with 0% interest payment plan over 2 years, but with an option to trade in the phone for the latest version at the cost of renewing the lease for a new 2 year period. If you opt not to trade it in, you just keep the phone you originally bought and it is paid off at the end of the original 2 year payment plan.

  • Reply 9 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post

     



    The Apple plan is NOT a lease. It is explicitly a loan with 0% interest payment plan over 2 years, but with an option to trade in the phone for the latest version at the cost of renewing the lease for a new 2 year period. If you opt not to trade it in, you just keep the phone you originally bought and it is paid off at the end of the original 2 year payment plan.




    "is NOT a lease" ... "renewing the lease"

  • Reply 10 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    I just traded in my wife 16 GB ATT iPhone 6 with a little crack on the screen at the corner in Apple store for $300 credit. Got her a new 6S with $350 out of pocket + tax. I was on Next plan and paid 11 payments of $27. I guess it's the same price to pay at Apple with their new program anyway.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    dcgoodcgoo Posts: 211member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post



    I just traded in my wife 16 GB ATT iPhone 6 with a little crack on the screen at the corner in Apple store for $300 credit. Got her a new 6S with $350 out of pocket + tax. I was on Next plan and paid 11 payments of $27. I guess it's the same price to pay at Apple with their new program anyway.

     

    Except you get an UNLOCKED iPhone.

  • Reply 12 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

     



    "is NOT a lease" ... "renewing the lease"




    It's not a lease. He meant to say you renew the financing agreement, and the previous balance is wiped clean. You pay for 24 months, with the option to turn it in and upgrade every 12 months. 

     

    I was buying on installments with Sprint. I decided to just start leasing this year, since the payments are cheaper and I upgrade every year anyway. I still have the option to buy out the lease if I decide I want to keep it. 

  • Reply 13 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post

     



    It's not a lease. He meant to say you renew the financing agreement, and the previous balance is wiped clean. You pay for 24 months, with the option to turn it in and upgrade every 12 months. 

     

    I was buying on installments with Sprint. I decided to just start leasing this year, since the payments are cheaper and I upgrade every year anyway. I still have the option to buy out the lease if I decide I want to keep it. 




    I know it is not a lease (see my previous comments).  I just thought it rather funny that he emphatically said it was not a lease and then called it one a sentence or two later...    

  • Reply 14 of 20
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 194member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    So I look forward to seeing if this might solve our dilemma.



    My wife and I are with AT&T and have been since the original iPhone so grandfathered in with unlimited data and I am on a buddy phone on the wife's account. Obviously we are stuck with the AT&T two year update cycle with this and we always update my wife's as she is a realtor and I am retired, so I get her cast off every two years and we switch the numbers over.



    Trying to see how both of us on the Apple plan it's hard to see the big picture in terms of costs versus what we have now. I would not be able to get the hand me down as they have to be returned I believe. Then there is no unlimited data if we go to AT&T and renegotiate with our own iPhones .. It's very hard to see the wood for the trees.

     

    Do you really need the unlimited data?  I have a similar arrangement with my wife: she gets a new "S" model when they're released, and I get her old phone.  Since the 6S just came out, we bought her a new one, and I now have her old 5S.  We are on an AT&T Next plan for her new 6S that will be paid off in 2 years.  Additionally, we're on a 15GB Mobile Share plan with several relatives: 9 of the 10 slots are currently being used.  The nice thing is that between 8 iPhones (and 1 flip phone), we don't come close to using up our data each month, and basic service only costs $29 per phone.  So for my wife and I, our total phone bill for the month, including paying off her new phone, comes to about $90.  Quite a bit cheaper than when we were under the old unlimited data 2-year contract plan.

  • Reply 15 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    ...My wife and I are with AT&T and have been since the original iPhone so grandfathered in with unlimited data and I am on a buddy phone on the wife's account. Obviously we are stuck with the AT&T two year update cycle with this and we always update my wife's as she is a realtor and I am retired, so I get her cast off every two years and we switch the numbers over.



    Trying to see how both of us on the Apple plan it's hard to see the big picture in terms of costs versus what we have now. I would not be able to get the hand me down as they have to be returned I believe. Then there is no unlimited data if we go to AT&T and renegotiate with our own iPhones .. It's very hard to see the wood for the trees.

     

    I was in a similar situation until recently. But I switched to the Next program because AT&T offers a significant discount on the monthly rate. That's how they keep you locked in with the new installment plan: big discount rather than a contract under the old arrangement.

     

    I was worried about losing the unlimited data, but it hasn't been an issue, except for one month when my son burned through most of our data (we have three iPhones sharing the data plan).  AT&T sends a warning email if you're about to go over so you can manage it more closely. I just disabled his data until the end of the month and we didn't go over.

     

    You don't have to return the phones once they're paid off, either under the old contract arrangement or the new installment plan arrangement. You would still be able to play musical phones as you did before depending on how far along you are with your installment payments on each phone. You'd just have more flexibility about making the payments, and you'd have the monthly fee discounts.

  • Reply 16 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    toddzrx wrote: »
    Do you really need the unlimited data?  I have a similar arrangement with my wife: she gets a new "S" model when they're released, and I get her old phone.  Since the 6S just came out, we bought her a new one, and I now have her old 5S.  We are on an AT&T Next plan for her new 6S that will be paid off in 2 years.  Additionally, we're on a 15GB Mobile Share plan with several relatives: 9 of the 10 slots are currently being used.  The nice thing is that between 8 iPhones (and 1 flip phone), we don't come close to using up our data each month, and basic service only costs $29 per phone.  So for my wife and I, our total phone bill for the month, including paying off her new phone, comes to about $90.  Quite a bit cheaper than when we were under the old unlimited data 2-year contract plan.

    Thanks for the feedback. We probably don't need unlimited to be honest. Probably the only time we use it is when we go to New England to visit family and we use Apple maps via cellular. Other than that I doubt we use it that much. Then again given we never paid for it it's hard to know for sure.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    booboo wrote: »
    I was in a similar situation until recently. But I switched to the Next program because AT&T offers a significant discount on the monthly rate. That's how they keep you locked in with the new installment plan: big discount rather than a contract under the old arrangement.

    I was worried about losing the unlimited data, but it hasn't been an issue, except for one month when my son burned through most of our data (we have three iPhones sharing the data plan).  AT&T sends a warning email if you're about to go over so you can manage it more closely. I just disabled his data until the end of the month and we didn't go over.

    You don't have to return the phones once they're paid off, either under the old contract arrangement or the new installment plan arrangement. You would still be able to play musical phones as you did before depending on how far along you are with your installment payments on each phone. You'd just have more flexibility about making the payments, and you'd have the monthly fee discounts.

    So is the 'Next' program bring your own phone? I know I should go a look it up ;)
  • Reply 18 of 20
    ksecksec Posts: 1,551member
    There is something I would like to know.

    1. Do the upgrade program forces you to return the exact same phone at the end of the 12 months? i.e What happen if i lost it? And brought the same model myself?

    The good thing about this model is it forces the carrier*(1) to complete on price and quality. Which is both a good thing and bad thing because we haven seen what happen with 2G and 3G / pre iPhone era. The network were completing on price and it was literally a race to bottom with quality down the drain.

    1. I must have been reading too much US news to use the word carrier, because pretty much everywhere else in the world it is called Mobile Network.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DCGOO View Post

     

     

    Except you get an UNLOCKED iPhone.


    Right, I totally forgot about it. 

  • Reply 20 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by booboo View Post

     

     

    I was in a similar situation until recently. But I switched to the Next program because AT&T offers a significant discount on the monthly rate. That's how they keep you locked in with the new installment plan: big discount rather than a contract under the old arrangement.

     

    I was worried about losing the unlimited data, but it hasn't been an issue, except for one month when my son burned through most of our data (we have three iPhones sharing the data plan).  AT&T sends a warning email if you're about to go over so you can manage it more closely. I just disabled his data until the end of the month and we didn't go over.

     

    You don't have to return the phones once they're paid off, either under the old contract arrangement or the new installment plan arrangement. You would still be able to play musical phones as you did before depending on how far along you are with your installment payments on each phone. You'd just have more flexibility about making the payments, and you'd have the monthly fee discounts.


    Why would you want to pay off the phone unless you want to keep it for 1-2 more years? If you want a new phone every year, consider 50% depreciation/year. That means you lose around $30/mo for  owning a $750 phone the first year. So, if any payment < $30/mo with annual upgrade is a good plan.

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