A free iPhone 13? Subsidies from wireless operators could make it happen, with some catch

The new iPhone 13 lineup doesn’t offer too many new features, but wireless carriers will again offer big discounts – up to free – for you to purchase service from them.

After a period of more moderate wireless promotions, mobile carriers introduced deep discounts last year and initial announcements Tuesday after Apple Inc.’s AAPL,
-0.96%
IPhone event shows the likes of AT&T Inc. T,
-0.69%,
Verizon Communications Inc. VZ,
-0.38%
and T-Mobile US Inc. TMUS,
-0.85%
will do it again this year. Wireless companies have spent a lot of money growing their 5G networks and want to strengthen their customer base as more people access 5G connectivity through Apple’s new iPhone 13 line.

Apple will likely benefit from significant carrier discounts, as mobile companies subsidize upgrades to a line of phones that don’t offer too many flashy new features, compared to last year’s models. Offers could be a mixed bag for carriers, helping them retain and attract customers, but at the expense of margins.

Read more: The return of subsidies is good for Apple and consumers, but not mobile operators

Typically, carrier promotions promise customers large bill credits with trade-ins for some older devices. Offers vary by carrier – and sometimes depending on whether or not you buy the phone directly through a mobile company or through Apple’s own channels – but could lead to virtually free iPhones.

AT&T has a deal for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max that will offer new and existing customers up to $ 1,000 off a new device with a trade-in, providing the opportunity for qualifying customers to get the ‘iPhone 13 Pro at $ 999 essentially free through bill credits. Another offer offers savings of up to $ 700 on an iPhone 13 mini or iPhone 13 if a customer trades in an older device, and the iPhone 13 mini starts at $ 699. Offers for the whole iPhone 13 family are listed on Apple’s website and mentioned on AT&T.

Apple’s website also lists a T-Mobile iPhone 13 deal that gives existing T-Mobile and Sprint customers $ 700 off an iPhone 13 series phone if they trade in an iPhone X and keep or upgrade. Magenta Max plan of the company. The rebate would consist of $ 500 in bill credits and a $ 200 Apple trade-in credit, according to a description on the site. Consumers are entitled to greater discounts if they trade in newer models.

The operator has also launched a program called Forever Upgrade, which will allow new and existing customers to trade in some older devices and receive a free iPhone 13 Pro, or up to $ 1,000 off iPhone series phones. 12 and 13, when they move or stay. on some plans and get the phone direct from T-Mobile. The “forever” part of the tagline refers to a deal whereby consumers “would lock in up to $ 800” in trade-in value for a new iPhone every two years thereafter.

Verizon will offer new and existing customers up to $ 800 off the iPhone 13 line with some trade-ins on some of its unlimited plans and provide up to $ 500 for the cost of switching carriers.

Existing customers who buy through Apple’s site can save up to $ 700 on the new phones in the line, according to Apple, which also offers its own subscription and trade-in programs.

Operators have been pushed towards subsidies and more competition for customers due to the price of the industry building 5G wireless networks and the resulting need to push more customers to more expensive unlimited plans. .

In depth: will 5G ever live up to the hype?

The Federal Communications Commission revealed in February that wireless companies had spent more than $ 80 billion on a crucial spectrum auction that would help them grow their 5G networks. Verizon has spent over $ 45 billion, while AT&T has spent over $ 23 billion. T-Mobile spent $ 9.3 billion but already had a significant amount of mid-band spectrum due to its successful deal for Sprint.

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