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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program gets more and more convenient

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

iPhone Upgrade Program

I’ve been a customer of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program since it became available back in 2015. For me, it’s the perfect solution to the yearly tide of new phones: I pay a monthly fee to get a new model, use it for a year, then trade it in for the subsequent year’s model. As someone who writes about all this tech for a living, it makes it a lot easier to commit to getting a new phone each year without having to worry about laying out hundreds of dollars every time or dealing with the hassle of trading in my old phone.

The one downside in the past has generally been that the upgrade program is a bit clunky when it comes to actually upgrading. The first year, I had to go to an Apple Store and actually wait in line to get a new phone, with no assurance that it would actually happen. Last year, matters improved somewhat in that upgrade program customers were able to pre-order their phones online and then go pick them up in an Apple Store (though it didn’t go smoothly for all potential customers).1

But this year, iPhone Upgrade Program customers are once again back in the boat with everybody else hoping to snag an iPhone X. Yesterday, Apple rolled out the ability to go through the pre-approval process for your loan in the Apple Store app, making it simpler for customers to choose the model they want and get all the upgrade program paperwork squared away ahead of time. That way we can blearily wake up in the middle of the night on Friday and stab at our phone to order a new one like everybody else.2

This addition levels the playing field, giving iPhone Upgrade Program customers the same result as people “favoriting” a certain model of the iPhone and making sure we don’t have to go through a ton of steps when it comes time to check out. And that’s on top of the fact that customers can now get their upgrades delivered, rather than having to actually go to the store. Like other firms that let you trade in your old phone, Apple will now ship you a box for your existing phone, which you can send back once your new model is delivered and set up.

I walked through the process when it became available yesterday, and found it relatively simple, especially since it imported all of my personal information from my current iPhone Upgrade Program loan.

There are still some limitations: for example, you can’t currently get pre-approved for a brand new loan. If you want to start the iPhone Upgrade Program this year with an iPhone X, you can do it, but you’re going to have to select the upgrade program as a payment option when you go to check out–which means when you’re ordering the phone come this Friday. That could be a little dicey.

All in all, though, my experiences with the iPhone Upgrade Program have been pretty positive and it looks like it’s on an upward trend. We’ll see how this pans out when the iPhone X goes up for pre-order at the end of the week.

  1. Six Colors Subscribers may remember last year’s iPhone day release episode recorded as I stood in the store getting my new phone setup. 
  2. I get it, Apple: you don’t want to overload your servers anymore than they already get overloaded. But this 3 a.m. Eastern thing has got to go. Please. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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