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If you’re planning to upgrade to a new Apple iPhone 13 model, there are a few things you should know before pre-orders begin at 8 a.m. ET on Friday, September 17. Aside from being ready to trade in your old device, there are a few ways to make sure you get a new phone tomorrow while also landing the best deal.
This year, Apple is letting all customers choose their iPhone 13 model and select a payment method. When pre-orders officially begin, the orders can be finished with one click, says Apple.
The Apple Store is worth a look because it features several carrier trade-ins offers in one place. Comparing trade-in deals on the carriers’ websites can be a little slow, but the Apple store has a drop-down list that delivers straightforward prices. Any clauses, like specific data packages or installment plans, are clearly laid out as well.
We advise against it. While it’s true iPhones retain their value better than most electronics, if you didn’t sell your old iPhone several months ago, the value has dropped because everyone is trying to sell right now. And don’t forget that online selling sites like eBay, Swappa, and Gazelle will take a cut of your sales. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist also rely more on user trust to make sure you’re not getting scammed and have fewer protections in place. In most cases, one of the carrier trade-in deals below will give you better value for your old iPhone.
These deals will require you to choose specific data packages, usually the carrier’s unlimited data plan. If your phone is free with an installment plan, you’ll have to pay for the device if you need to switch carriers. This may not be a problem unless you move often, but you should be aware that free devices tie you to the carrier just as much as a contract would.
AT&T is offering either the iPhone 13 Mini 128GB or the iPhone 13 Pro 128GB for free, depending on which device you’re trading in. Older models can be traded for the more affordable iPhone 13 Mini, while more recent models and flagship devices from competitors can be traded for the premium iPhone 13 Pro.
Other devices are available at a steep discount, like the iPhone 13 Pro Max for $99, with the payments divided over an installment plan. AT&T is also offering $200 off a pair of Apple Watch Series 7 devices, as long as you open a new line.
T-Mobile’s offer is the “Forever Upgrade.” If your trade-in is eligible, you’ll get a free iPhone 13 and $800 in trade-in credit to use every two years as long as you stick with T-Mobile.
What if you don’t have an eligible trade-in? You can get the Forever Upgrade anyway. Forever Upgrade is only available with Magenta MAX, T-Mobile’s unlimited everything (including 5G data) plan.
Verizon is offering up to $800 of trade-in credit, which amounts to a free iPhone 13 over the course of a 24-month or 30-month installment plan. To entice people to switch carriers, it’s offering an additional $500 incentive in the form of a prepaid card. If you have an eye on the iPhone 13 Pro, perhaps due to its superior camera performance, Verizon is offering a 128GB iPhone 13 Pro with trade-in (including damaged phones) on qualified unlimited pans.
Aside from the brick-and-mortar Apple Store, you can expect to find the iPhone 13 at all major retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, Costco, and others. Most purchases can also be paired with carrier deals.
If you’re buying an iPhone 13 model through the Apple Store, you can get started now by preregistering in advance. Carriers don’t have their deals live yet, but we do have instructions for how to pre-order through them.