Your Guide To The Major Carriers’ iPhone 6 Offers

Apple announced a couple of new phones yesterday, triggering a Pavlovian response in some consumers that can only be eased by the acquisition of one of these new phones. It also pits the four national wireless carriers against each other in a battle for Apple-hungry customers.

(UPDATE: After the pre-orders opened today, a number of people complained that AT&T and Verizon are charging upgrade fees for customers who are out of contract. This is nothing new; carriers have charged upgrade fees to existing customers for years. Click here for more information.)

In order to lock customers into two-year contracts, Verizon is offering a “free” 16GB iPhone 6 to people who trade in a working, eligible older iPhone (anything from the iPhone 4 or newer) and are willing to agree to a two-year contract with the provider.

You’ll notice that we say “free” because it’s actually a $200 gift card that can be used to pay the $199 subsidized cost of the device. The offer does not apply to the iPhone 6 Plus.

The Death Star is making its own push to lure in customers, especially to its AT&T Next plan, which charges you full price for the phone but spaces it out over the course of 12-24 months, depending on when or if they choose to upgrade.

Anyone who activates a line of service on AT&T Next will receive a $100 bill credit with the purchase of any iPhone.

AT&T is also pushing its trade-in pricing for existing models of the iPhone. An iPhone 5S starts at $300 in trade-in credit, while you’ll get at least $200 in trade-in credit for iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and 5C.

Sprint, which is all about giving away access to its painfully slow network, will be introducing a $50 “Simply Unlimited” plan with, you guessed it, unlimited, talk, text, and data for customers who buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

But in order to get that plan, much like the recently announced $60/month unlimited plan from Sprint, customers have to order their phone through Sprint’s Easy Pay installment program, meaning they will pay significantly more than the $199 price for people at other carriers willing to agree to a two-year contract.

Sprint is trying to ease that pain with the “iPhone for Life” program that cuts the monthly installment from $30 to $20 for the iPhone 6, and from $35 down to $25 for the 6 Plus. What’s the catch? At the end of 24 months, you trade in your now outdated and embarrassingly old iPhone. It’s unclear if you are on the hook for the balance of the money (at least $240) if you choose to not upgrade after 24 months.

T-Mobile got the head start on the iPhone-related announcements earlier this week when it claimed that it would match any trade-in offer made by the other three national providers. It also sweetened the deal by guaranteeing that if you trade in a phone with T-Mobile and subsequently find out (within 7 days) that you could have gotten a better trade-in deal elsewhere, T-Mo will match the deal and throw in $50 of bill credit.

While the T-Mobile trade-in match is obviously timed and targeted at potential iPhone 6 customers, the match guarantee applies to all phones.

However, T-Mobile has completely stopped subsidizing phone sales, so it looks like anyone wishing to get their service through T-Mo will end up paying the full price (which appears to start around $650 for the iPhone 6 and $750 for the 6 Plus) in monthly installments.

Disregard the phone on the left. It is old and you will be embarrassed to be seen in public with it after Sept. 19.

Disregard the phone on the left. It is old and you will be embarrassed to be seen in public with it after Sept. 19.

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