Apple’s iPhone 13’s best features are trade-in offers, not specs

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Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 13 at the Apple event on Tuesday.

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This story is part of Apple event, our comprehensive coverage of the latest Apple news.

Apple’s new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro phones have a lot of new features which are welcome upgrades from earlier iPhone models. The battery life is longer, and there is nifty camera tricks, better displays, a thinner notch and even new color options. While this stealthy ‘Year S’ upgrade isn’t nearly as big as the redesign and inclusion of 5G last year, there’s enough here that Apple is still moving many, many millions of iPhones.

Especially when you consider the carrier rates here in the United States.


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The three major wireless service providers introduced new iPhone offerings to get people to upgrade their old devices to these 5G-Compatible iPhones. As has been the trend in recent years, these deals are available to new and existing customers, offering deep discounts on all versions of the new iPhone 13 if you’re ready to upgrade and commit to staying with a carrier. for several years.

The deals represent a push from carriers not only to select new customers from each other, but to lock in their current customers with longer deals. The floodgates for the deals opened last year, when companies were eager to draw people to their 5G networks, and they are pushing ahead with the iPhone 13 launch. Although now is a good time for those looking for a good deal, consumers should be aware that terms can extend up to three years.

Apple went so far as to acknowledge the carrier discounts during its presentation Tuesday with Kaiann Drance, vice president of marketing for Apple’s iPhone products, noting that there are “fantastic offers from Apple and our partners” in mentioning the price of the iPhone 13.

AT&T is offering up to $ 1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max and up to $ 700 on the iPhone 13 and Mini, essentially making the iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Mini free. Verizon is offering up to $ 800 off any iPhone 13, covering the base costs of the 13 and the Mini.

Read more: iPhone 13 vs 13 Mini vs 13 Pro vs 13 Pro Max: all the biggest differences

Both carriers will need you to trade in a fairly recent phone and have an unlimited plan (in the case of Verizon, one of its current higher tier unlimited offers such as Do More, Get More, and Play More or older Above Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans) to obtain full credit. AT&T also requires your device to be in good working order while Verizon will take any phone – even those with a broken screen – as long as its battery isn’t damaged.

T-Mobile’s most aggressive offering comes direct from Apple. If you buy from Apple and trade in an iPhone X or newer, the company will give you a credit of at least $ 200 from Apple off the price of the phone and a minimum of $ 200 back from T-Mobile. These numbers can jump quickly if you trade for a new device and have the carrier’s best plan, called Magenta Max.

If you have Magenta Max and trade in an iPhone 12 Pro Max, you’ll get $ 790 back from Apple, with T-Mobile giving an additional $ 500 via bill credits for a total savings of $ 1,290.

More directly, T-Mobile is offering up to $ 500 off the price of any iPhone 13 series phone, provided you end up on an installment plan and trade in a qualifying device. This offer does not require a Magenta Max plan and will work with all of the company’s other offers.

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Playing for good

The problem in any case is that you have to be prepared to stick with the carrier you choose, as the discounts flow back to you in the form of monthly bill credits.

The AT&T deal requires funding for the phone over 36 months. Verizon requires you to fund over 24 or 30 months, while T-Mobile’s Apple deal will give the carrier part of the promotion via 24-month bill credits (phone swap with Apple can be used like instant credit). T-Mobile’s $ 500 direct promotion requires the purchase of an iPhone 13 with a 30-month installment plan.

In all of these cases, if you cancel the service or leave early, you may lose the remaining bill credits and be charged the balance owed on the phones.

“Now that US operators are seriously deploying 5G networks, they are trying to consolidate their subscriber base to keep the competition at bay,” said Avi Greengart, industry analyst at Techsponential. “They all make sure these deals pay off by tying them to their most expensive service plans, requiring trade-ins and extending grants over two or even three years.”

Read more: IPhone 13 Price and Preorder: How and When to Buy Apple’s New Phones


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In addition to the upgrade offers today, some carriers like T-Mobile have added new incentives to keep people tied to their networks for even longer periods of time, well beyond the iPhone 12 or 13.

In a policy called “Forever Upgrade”, as of Friday, T-Mobile guarantees a trade-in value of up to $ 800 for those on its network who buy a new iPhone 12 or 13 and have its Magenta Max plan leveled up. higher (other older, higher-end T-Mobile or Sprint plans are also eligible).

As with all other offers, there is a catch. In addition to the plan requirements, that $ 800 trade-in value will only come true if you wait two years and keep the device in good working order. At this point, you can trade in the iPhone you’re currently getting again and invest that money in a new device, keeping the cycle going.

Operator offers like those offered by T-Mobile “are designed to increase consumer loyalty” and prevent people from leaving, said Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. And because a lot of these deals require a higher tier unlimited plan, Sag notes that carriers are “more happy to keep those customers rather than letting them go to someone else who has iPhone plus deals. aggressive “.

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