HolidayBuyer's Guide

Apple wants you to ditch your old iPhone with new payment plan

The Trade Up With Installments program lets you unload an old phone and get a new model for under $35 a month over two years.

With Apple's new Trade Up With Installments plan, you'll be able to trade in an old smartphone and pay for a new iPhone in monthly installments.

Photo by James Martin/CNET

You're itching to get your hands on a new iPhone but can't afford the big upfront payment. Maybe you like the idea of monthly payments but don't want to commit to buying the newest iPhone available each year.

Apple has a program for you.

The company on Thursday revealed its new Trade Up With Installments plan that lets you hand over an old iPhone (or Android or Windows phone), apply the value of that device to a new iPhone and pay off your new gadget in installments over 24 months. This plan only works in the US, and it's only available in Apple Stores.

If you're trading in an iPhone in good working condition, the payments range from about $15 to $35 a month, depending on how many models you jump up to. If you're switching from the iPhone 4 to the 128GB iPhone 6S Plus, for instance, you'll pay $35.37 a month. But if you're moving from an iPhone 5 to an iPhone 6, you'll pay $14.54 a month.

Trade Up With Installments joins two existing plans designed to tempt consumers to pick up new iPhones: Apple's long-running trade-in program and the iPhone Upgrade Program introduced in September with the launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

The trade-in program pays you up to $350 for your old iPhone. Apple even started accepting damaged iPhones for trade-in earlier this year.

The iPhone Upgrade program, meanwhile, lets you get the latest iPhone, along with the AppleCare+ service, each year by shelling out a monthly payment for 24 months. The rate starts at $32.41 a month for a 16GB iPhone 6S and goes as high as $44.91 for the 128GB iPhone 6S Plus. When the year is up and a new iPhone is out, you simply take your older device to an Apple Store, trade it in for the new model and resume monthly installments.

Yes, it is complicated.

Apple said its new Trade Up With Installments program is geared toward people who have older-generation iPhones. And there are plenty of such people. About 42 percent of currently active iPhones are 2013's iPhone 5S or an older model, according to data tracker Fiksu. For Apple, getting people to upgrade to its newest devices is key to keeping its growth going.

The company sold a record number of iPhones in the quarter that ended in December, but unit sales posted their slowest growth rate since the Apple smartphone hit the market in 2007. What's worse, Apple predicts that iPhone unit sales will fall for the first time ever in the current quarter.

Not everyone needs the latest and greatest phone, and it can be pricey to get a new iPhone. The Trade Up With Installments program lets you pay off a new phone little by little instead of facing a big expense up front. It also lets you decide which model you want, rather than needing to purchase the latest device if you want to pay in installments, as with the iPhone Upgrade Program.

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There aren't hidden fees or interest charged in the program, Apple said, and it doesn't include AppleCare+. The price equates to the amount of the new phone, minus the value of your trade-in device, all divided by 24. If you want that iPhone AppleCare+ insurance, you'll have to pay $99 to $129 up front when you get your new phone.

Whatever phone you purchase will be unlocked, which means you're not tied to a specific carrier. You'll still need to sign up for wireless service for the iPhone.

Unlike with the iPhone Upgrade program, you can't trade in your phone every year for the latest model. You would have to pay off your remaining installments instead of making a trade as with Apple's upgrade plan.

The maximum trade-in values are the same as for the regular trade-in program. That's $100 for the iPhone 4 and 4S; $200 for the 5, 5C and 5S; $300 for the 6; and $350 for the 6 Plus. The amount doesn't change based on how much storage you have. You'll get as much for the 16GB version of an iPhone as for the 128GB, even though jumping from 16GB to 128GB cost you $200 when you bought the phone. And the values are for phones with regular wear and tear, so don't worry if your device isn't in pristine condition. If you have a cracked screen or other damage, though, you won't get as much money.

If you're trading in a Google Android or Microsoft Windows phone, you'll likely get about $100 to $300 for your trade-in value, Apple said.

Full trade-in options and pricing are below, with the assumption of maximum trade-in value.

iPhone trade-in comparison

Your trade-in Max trade-in value You choose Your monthly payment
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 5S (16GB) $14.58/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 5S (32GB) $16.62/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6 (16GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6 (64GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6 Plus (16GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6 Plus (64GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S (16GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S (64GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S (128GB) $31.20/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S Plus (16GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S Plus (64GB) $31.20/month
iPhone 4, 4S $100 iPhone 6S Plus (128GB) $35.37/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6 (16GB) $14.54/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6 (64GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6 Plus (16GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6 Plus (64GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S (16GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S (64GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S (128GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S Plus (16GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S Plus (64GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 5, 5C, 5S $200 iPhone 6S Plus (128GB) $31.20/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6 Plus (16GB) $14.54/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6 Plus (64GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S (16GB) $14.54/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S (64GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S (128GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S Plus (16GB) $18.70/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S Plus (64GB) $22.87/month
iPhone 6 $300 iPhone 6S Plus (128GB) $27.04/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S (16GB) $12.45/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S (64GB) $16.62/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S (128GB) $20.79/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S Plus (16GB) $16.62/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S Plus (64GB) $20.79/month
iPhone 6 Plus $350 iPhone 6S Plus (128GB) $24.95/month