Apple’s begun taking preorders for the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and by all accounts, it looks like another record launch. A lot has happened in the wireless industry since the last time Apple released a new iPhone: All four national cellular carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint — have moved away from the traditional two-year contract, that familiar arrangement that tied you to your carrier but let you buy a basic iPhone at a subsidized price of $199.
This shift away from device subsidies means millions of Americans for the first time will be expected to cover the full price of their phones — $649 or more, in the case of the iPhone. But the range of choices is more likely to confuse than to clarify. You can buy. You can lease. Some offer promotional pricing; others don’t. You can pay for the phone in installments. But how many? Twelve? Eighteen? Twenty-four? Thirty?
Into this mix comes Apple, which just announced a new plan of its own that lets you pay for an iPhone over 24 months and upgrade every 12 months.
For reasons we’ll get into below, we think Apple’s new iPhone upgrade plan will be right for many people, and it could even reshape the face of the cellular industry. But it’s not for everyone. In fact, even though it’s aimed at simplifying everything, the addition of a new choice from Apple threatens to add complexity to an already confusing jumble of payment plans.
Choice give you flexibility. But it also adds complexity, which is why we’ve tried to narrow down the options based on four common consumer archetypes. iPhone shoppers should ask themselves what they value most: Is it price? Is it the ability to upgrade the device whenever you want? Do you want to own the device? Or do you just like the way things were?
Check out the detailed analysis by the Washington Post of your choices for buying a new iPhone.