The biggest feature of the iPhone 13 isn’t on a spec sheet. This is the trade-in offers


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


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

Apples iPhone 13 and 13 Pro the lines seem to offer many welcome improvements. The battery life is longer, There are nifty camera tricks, better displays 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 have started to introduce new 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 separate customers from each other, but to lock in their existing base with longer deals. They opened the floodgates on the deals last year, when companies were eager to draw people to their 5G networks, and they are continuing to launch the iPhone 13. Although now is a good time for those looking for one. good deal, consumers should be aware that terms can extend up to three years.

Apple went so far as to recognize the carrier discounts during its presentation on Tuesday with Kaiann Drance, vice president of marketing for Apple’s iPhone products, noting that there are “fantastic deals 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 Price and Preorder: How and When to Buy Apple’s New Phones

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 the older ones 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 broken screens – as long as the battery isn’t damaged.

T-Mobile’s most aggressive offering actually comes directly 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 best plan from the carrier, known as 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.


Sarah Tew / CNET

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 needs your funding over a 24- or 30-month period, while T-Mobile’s Apple deal will give the carrier part of the promotion through 24-month bill credits (the phone swap with Apple can be used as instant credit). T-Mobile’s $ 500 direct promotion requires the purchase of an iPhone 13 with a 30-month installment plan.

Either way, if you cancel the service or leave early, you risk losing any remaining bill credits and being debited with 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.”

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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.

Called “Forever Upgrade,” as of Friday, the carrier is guaranteeing a trade-in value of up to $ 800 for those in its network who buy a new iPhone 12 or 13 and have their higher tier Magenta Max plan (other older, higher -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 are currently getting again and invest that money in a new device, keeping the cycle going.

Carrier 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 so many 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 more aggressive iPhone deals.”


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