With the iPhone 15 set to be available for preorder on Friday, carriers have already begun touting their latest offers. All three of the major carriers are offering up to $1,000 off, so long as you meet certain requirements and are willing to commit to financing the new phone through the carrier.
That isn’t new. Carrier promotions have long focused on locking people in for periods of time, dating back to the days of two-year contracts that predate even the early years of the iPhone. Offering different discounts depending on the plan you’re on and the phone you would be trading in isn’t novel either.
What is new for the iPhone 15, at least for T-Mobile and Verizon, is how the iPhone 15 is the first real opportunity for both carriers to try to get people to switch to their respective newer, pricier plans that have been introduced over the past few months.
Here’s what you need to know as you head into new iPhone season about the carrier deals the three big US providers: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
How can I get $1,000 off?
The easiest carrier deal is actually from AT&T. Like it has done in the past, the carrier just requires new or existing users to be on a wide variety of its recent and older unlimited plans (except its cheapest Value Plus option which is limited to a single line) and trade in a recent phone in good condition.
Phones eligible for the $1,000 off include models from last year and older premium phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max as well as any iPhone from iPhone 13 or iPhone 14 lines (except the iPhone 13 mini). The Google Pixel 7 Pro is also eligible, as are a variety of Samsung devices including the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4, S22 Ultra 5G, X Cover6 Pro and the entire S23 line.
Like before, AT&T needs you to commit to a 36-month installment plan, where the $1,000 is dished out as monthly bill credits. If you decide to leave the carrier early you’d need to pay off whatever balance remains on your phone.
If you want to get the full $1,000 off from Verizon, you’ll need to add a new line or switch from a rival provider and then sign up for its priciest unlimited plan called Unlimited Ultimate, which it just introduced last month. Like AT&T, you also need to trade in a phone and commit to a 36-month installment plan, where the $1,000 is dished out as monthly bill credits, and if you decide to leave Verizon earlier, you’d be on the hook for whatever is still owed.
On perhaps a slightly brighter side, Verizon is accepting any iPhone in any condition for a trade-in here, so even if you have a broken iPhone 4 in a drawer somewhere you can swap it in and get the full discount. At least in this case, you can then trade in or sell your more recent phone somewhere else to get a little extra cash.
Verizon declined to comment about why it’s limiting this offer just to switchers opting for its priciest plan.
T-Mobile isn’t much better than Verizon when it comes to who qualifies for its top deal. To get its best deal, you need to be on either the Go5G Plus plan it introduced in April or its priciest Go5G Next option it added in August. Under either scenario, you would need to trade in an “eligible” device with the $1,000 given back as credits on your monthly bill.
Eligible devices for this deal include Pro model iPhones dating back to the iPhone 11 Pro as well as “Ultra” models of Samsung Galaxy S21, S22, S23 or Note 20 plus the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and 4 and Z Fold 3 and 4. The devices being traded in also need to be in good condition.
The good news for T-Mobile users is that its financing plans are significantly shorter than AT&T or Verizon’s, running 24 months as opposed to 36 months (and Go5G Next users have the ability to trade in their phones and upgrade after 12 months of payments have been made). T-Mobile also is making this deal open to both new and existing customers.
The bad news? Unlike its rivals, T-Mobile allows only those on its Go5G plan to upgrade one line to Go5G Plus while keeping the others on Go5G regular. If you have an older plan and one person on it wants to take advantage of this deal, the others will all need to switch their plans too.
“We introduced Go5G Plus and Go5G Next to give customers even more data, more value and the guarantee that new and existing customers on these plans will always get the same great device deals,” a T-Mobile spokesperson told CNET in a statement. “If customers want the best deals right now, they can move to these plans.” The carrier also added that it has other offers for those who don’t want to switch plans.
What about if I don’t have the latest phone or I don’t want to switch my plan?
All three carriers are offering lesser deals for those who have older devices or don’t want to jump to the priciest plans.
AT&T’s offer still requires an unlimited plan but drops to $830 off a new iPhone 15 if you’re trading in an older device, such as an iPhone 11 or 12 series phone or the iPhone 13 mini. On the Galaxy side, this list includes anything from the Galaxy S20 or S21 lines, Note 20 lines as well as earlier Z Fold and Z Flips. Other eligible Android devices include the Google Pixel 6 Pro and 7 as well as the OnePlus 9 Pro 5G and 10 Pro.
The offer will go to $350 in credit for devices dating back to the iPhone X line (including the XS and XR models) as well as the second- and third-generation iPhone SE. A large collection of older Samsung, Google, OnePlus and LG phones are also eligible here as are some phones from Motorola, ZTE (Red Magic 3), Asus (ROG Phone 3) and Microsoft (Surface Duo).
The devices you are trading in still need to be on an installment plan, you still need to be on an unlimited plan and still need to finance the device over 36 months.
Verizon’s offer drops to up to $830 off a new iPhone 15 if you are one of its higher-end recent plans, including its new Unlimited Plus plan and older Do More, Play More, Get More and One options. This also requires the trade in of “select” devices, but a list of what qualifies wasn’t available at press time.
Those on cheaper plans, like Verizon’s Unlimited Welcome or 5G Start, can get up to $415 off a new iPhone with a trade-in.
These devices may also need to be in good condition. As before, you will need to finance the phone through Verizon with the actual $830 or $415 doled out over 36 months as monthly bill credits.
T-Mobile will give up to $650 off any iPhone 15 model with an “eligible” trade-in, so long as you are on its Magenta Max plan. T-Mobile says that eligible devices for this deal include iPhones dating back the XS, XS Max and 11 series (including the third-generation iPhone SE but not the iPhone XR) plus other, undisclosed Android phones.
To get $350 off, you will need to be a Magenta or Go5G plan. Eligible devices for trading in here include all the above iPhones as well as the iPhone XR.
Anyone on an older plan can get $200 off with trade in of iPhones ranging from the iPhone XR up to the iPhone 13 series. Both the $350 off offer and the $200 off offer are available with the trade-in of various, undisclosed Android devices as well.
Regardless of the offer you choose, whatever phones you’re trading in need to be in good, working condition and be fully paid off.
Also like before: You will need to buy the phone from T-Mobile on an installment plan. As mentioned these run 24 months at the carrier, with the carrier giving the discount as monthly bill credits. If you leave before that time is up you will lose the remaining bill credits and need to pay off whatever is still owed.