Could the iPhone Upgrade Program save you money?

WASHINGTON — Apple recently unveiled a new leasing option for its phones that could boil down to a better deal for consumers.

The iPhone Upgrade Program would give customers the chance to pay for unlocked iPhones in installments, with the option of turning in that phone for a new phone after a year. Customers under this plan would have to pay for Apple care plus handset insurance extended warranty program. The phones would remain unlocked, regardless of a person’s service provider.

Apple’s move follows a trend among carriers moving away from standard two-year contract. And it’s a move that puts Apple in a pretty good position, Rob Pegoraro — tech columnist for USA TODAY and Yahoo! News — tells WTOP.

For starters, those seeking the deal would have to go to their nearest Apple store.

“So, you’re in this room full of other shiny Apple gadgets, you might find yourself buying one along the way,” Pegoraro says.

Also, it pushes cellphone carriers into the background, Pegoraro says.

“The carriers are just this company you pay for connectivity and bandwidth. That’s it,” he says. “Not the place where you buy our phone. You don’t really deal with them all that much.”

“I can’t imagine the carriers like this plan so much,” Pegoraro adds.

Pegoraro says that depending on your service provider, Apple’s plan could work out to a better deal.

According to several published reports, Apple’s deal would allow customers to pay between $32.41 and $44.91 a month. Customers would trade in their old devices when new phones come out.

According to Pegoraro, to get a new iPhone each year from AT&T would come out to the same price as Apple, but you wouldn’t get handset insurance with the AT&T deal. Sprint and T-Mobile have lease options that cut costs compared to what Apple charges.

“In some cases by considerable amount, if you’re bringing a phone for trade-in, for instance,” Pegoraro says.

Verizon doesn’t offer an upgrade program, Pegoraro says.

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