Checking Upgrade Eligibility Ahead of Friday's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Pre-Orders
With pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus happening this Friday, many people who hope to get their hands on one of the new devices are going to be scrambling to find out their upgrade options. TUAW has assembled a helpful guide on to help users check their upgrade eligibility and purchasing options.
Users on all four major networks in the United States can type a quick code into their phones to get an immediate report on their upgrade status via text message. The codes are as follows:
- AT&T: *639#
- Sprint: 1311
- T-Mobile: #874
- Verizon: #874
These codes are a good way to get a quick look at upgrade eligibility, but some of them don't exactly tell the whole story. For example, AT&T's text message is pointing users towards a Next plan, even if they may have other upgrade options available. A second option for getting a clear picture of upgrade eligibility on the four major networks is going through Apple's own site.
Visiting the iPhone 6 pre-order page and choosing a model, carrier, and color will give an option to "Check your upgrade eligibility" with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. T-Mobile works somewhat differently as Apple only gives T-Mobile customers the option to buy outright.
Checking upgrade options requires a user to enter a wireless number, billing zip code, and the last four digits of the social security number on the account, after which it displays all of the upgrade options available, including when an account might become eligible for an early or full upgrade.
For example, an AT&T user who purchased an iPhone 5s on release day on a two-year contract would be able to purchase an iPhone 6 for $649 on pre-order day, but would also be eligible for an early upgrade on September 21, which provides a $200 discount. This option also displays what Next monthly fees would be.
Many times, new purchasing fees can be cut by trading a device into an Apple Store, a carrier, or a third party service, all of which offer payouts for old Apple devices.
For those planning to upgrade, it's important to look into options immediately as there are only two days left until the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available for pre-order. Though Apple has not yet confirmed what time the two devices will go on sale, AT&T says that its pre-order sales will begin on September 12 at 12:01 AM Pacific Time, and it's likely Apple's own sales will start at the same time.
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Okay let's clear some stuff up for everyone who is curious about how the ATT Next system works.
A. IF YOU HAVE A CURRENT 2 YR CONTRACT ON THE LINE YOU WANT TO UPGRADE:
-- If you started the contract ON OR BEFORE JANUARY 18, 2014: You are eligible to upgrade to ATT Next on this line right now. This also applies if your contract is over. This will 1. End the remainder of your 2 year contract for this line, if any exists 2. Have NO ETFs for this line 3. Give you complete ownership of the device on this line that is now OUT of contract. Sell as you please and profit. :)
-- If you started the contract AFTER JANUARY 18, 2014:You cannot upgrade to ATT Next until 20 months have passed on your 2 year contract. That is 1 Year, 8 months for anyone counting. So, if you signed up on January 19, 2014, you're looking at [I]September 20, 2015[/I]. How unfortunate. This is the only real nitpick I have with ATT upgrade eligibility to the Next plan, as this is a long time to wait.
Overview of ATT Next:
-- You can either have the ATT 12 Month Plan or the ATT 18 Month Plan
The way it works for current and future ATT Next lines is this:
The 12 month plan is comprised of 20 payments, and the 18 month plan is comprised of 24 payments This is the cost of the phone (without tax) divided into 20 or 24 even parts over 20 or 24 months, depending on which plan (12 or 18) you have on this line. The 12 or 18 months refers to earliest upgrade period, so after 12 or 18 months, you can upgrade to a new phone without any money down (besides taxes on the new phone).
B. IF YOU HAVE A CURRENT AT&T NEXT PLAN ON THE LINE YOU WANT TO UPGRADE AND HAVE MADE THE ONLY THE MINIMUM PAYMENTS (12 or 18 months' worth)
At this point where you reach 12 or 18 months, you are required to trade in your phone to complete your eligibility for a new ATT Next upgrade. Everyone is whining about how the phone "isn't really yours". This is because you haven't paid it off yet! Remember how the 12 month plan has 20 months of payments and the 18 month plan has 24 months of payments? Well, after 12 months of payments on the former plan, you still have 8 payments left to make, so ATT is saying, "look, we will waive the last 8 payments if you trade the phone in". Say the payment is $32.50 (I will list general pricing per month below). You have paid 12 months * $32.50 = $390 and still owe 8 months * $32.50 = $260. Total cost is *gasp* $649! That sounds familiar! Yes, that is the retail price of a $199 iPhone, ladies and gentlemen. No ripoff here. If you wait until after you make your 20 payments (if you have the 12 month plan) or 24 payments (if you have the 18 month plan, you then own the phone. At this point, if you choose a new ATT Next phone for this line, you do not have to trade in your old device. Understood? Good. Moving on.
Now, let's say -
C. IF YOU HAVE A CURRENT AT&T NEXT PLAN ON THE LINE YOU WANT TO UPGRADE AND HAVE NOT YET MADE THE MINIMUM PAYMENTS (Less than the 12 or 18 months' worth, depending on your plan)
You can log on to your ATT account via their website and use the options available to make some choices:
PAY TO UPGRADE THIS DEVICE option. You will pay the remainder of your minimum monthly payments up to and including the 12th/18th month, which will immediately deem you "upgrade eligible". So, if you paid 10 months out of your 12, you will owe $32.50 * 2 months = $65.00. After that, you trade in your phone and proceed with a new upgrade as normal.
PAY OFF THIS DEVICE option. Self explanatory. This is the remaining amount of money you owe on the phone (so it would be all payments through the 20th/24th month rather than 12th/18th month). If you made 10 payments on a 12 month Next plan and want to keep your current phone but also upgrade, then you will owe 20 months - 10 months = 10 months * $32.50 = $325.00. You will then OWN the phone and can proceed with a new ATT Next upgrade without trading it in.
D. IF YOU HAVE A CURRENT AT&T NEXT PLAN ON THE LINE YOU WANT TO UPGRADE AND HAVE MADE THE MINIMUM PAYMENTS BUT HAVE NOT PAID OFF THE PHONE (More than 12/18 but less than 20/24 months, depending on your plan)
You can either 1. Surrender your phone and upgrade. You made an extra few payments of $32.50 that you won't get back. Oh well.
2. Make the remaining payments via the website with the PAY OFF THIS DEVICE option: If you made 18 payments on a 12 month Next plan and want to keep your current phone but also upgrade, then you will owe 20 months - 18 months = 2 months * $32.50 = $65.00. You will then OWN the phone and can proceed with a new ATT Next upgrade without trading it in.
The $32.50 I keep referencing, again, is for a '$199' phone, i.e. the entry level iPhone 6 with a retail cost of $649.00. Remember 649/32.50 = 19.999 aka 20.
So, here we go with pricing:
ATT Next 12 Month Plan (12 months of payments to trade in, 20 months of payments to own):
16 GB iPhone 6: $32.50/mo
64 GB iPhone 6: $37.50/mo
128 GB iPhone 6: $42.50/mo
16 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $37.50/mo
64 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $42.50/mo
128 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $47.50/mo
The ATT 18 numbers aren't quite as exact a science as the 12, but these are pulled from ATT and are valid:
ATT Next 18 month Plan (18 months of payments to trade in, 24 months of payments to own):
16 GB iPhone 6: $27.09/mo
64 GB iPhone 6: $31.25/mo
128 GB iPhone 6: $35.42/mo
16 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $31.25/mo
64 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $35.42/mo
128 GB iPhone 6 Plus: $39.59/mo
Now, all of this is just for the cost of the phone alone. It does not include service costs, which are separate and are beyond the scope of this discussion. You can save some serious coin with ATT Next and Mobile Share though, (on the tune of $15/month per line for 6-9.99 gb and $25/month per line for 10gb and greater).
I'll live until I can casually walk into an Apple Store and pick one up, but I'm glad for all of you who get a launch day device, it must be exciting. :)