Apple Debuts Subscription Program for Annual iPhone Upgrade

For users who always want the latest and greatest Apple iPhone, Apple just unrolled a program to perfectly suit their needs. For a monthly fee, the iPhone Upgrade Program provides a new iPhone every year plus access to AppleCare+, the top-of-the-line extended warranty program. The amount of that monthly fee depends on the level of iPhone involved, but ranges from $32.61 per month to $44.91 per month. Once enrolled, a subscriber to the program is committed for 24 months but can extend the program after 12 months of payment.

The Atlantic notes that this announcement may have been overwhelmed by Apple’s semi-annual unveiling of new shiny hardware — but it was “definitely the most intriguing one,” although “nothing more than a new business arrangement.” The addition of AppleCare+ is significant since, unlike AppleCare, the company will fix “incidental” damage and replace a cracked screen, albeit for a fee.


Subscribers can get into the program for the monthly fee of $32.51 for Apple’s least expensive iPhone, the 16GB iPhone 6S; the next step up, the 64GB iPhone 6S costs $36.58 per month, which pencils out at $438.96 per year or $877.92 over the term of its contract. That’s more than the price of an unlocked 64GB iPhone 6, which can be purchased on Amazon for approximately $782.

But, says The Atlantic, the comparatively more expensive price is not the point: “The luxury of knowing you’ll always have the newest iPhone now has a price, and it is a little more than $1.20 per day.”

Likewise the 128GB iPhone 6S Plus, which costs $44.91 per month in the subscription program, costs $1,077.84 over two years, or almost $1.50 per day. “The company’s iPhone Upgrade Program appeals to people because iPhones, despite their ubiquity, remain status symbols and cultural signifiers.”

The new subscription plan, however, could have unintended consequences: by putting a monthly price on an annual upgrade, Apple has “turned the phone into a utility.”

“At some point, the iPhone will join the ranks of ignorable infrastructure,” says The Atlantic. “Apple is getting closer to that point by, paradoxically, playing on the appeal of novelty.”

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