Currently, Apple Store customers are only limited to purchasing an iPhone through a regular two-year contract at subsidized pricing or unlocked at full-price. All three early upgrade programs allow customers to upgrade their phones more frequently as the complete cost of a device is split into monthly payments which are rolled into the standard bill each month. Verizon and T-Mobile allow customers to upgrade their phones twice every year after six months of payments, while AT&T customers can upgrade once every 12 months after a year of payments.
The move also comes after Apple Stores began allowing customers to add pre-paid or month-to-month plans when purchasing full-priced, unlocked iPhones in June. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted last year that 80 percent of iPhones are sold at third-party locations while 20 percent are sold by Apple, adding that it was a figure he would like to improve. Apple has launched a number of other programs in its retail store to boost in-store sales, which included an event this past May encouraging iPhone 4 and 4s owners to update to a newer device.