The ultimate T-Mobile iPhone 13 Pro Max hack could get you Apple's highest-end phone for free

Getting $790 from Apple plus $500 from T-Mobile could cover the phone's cost.

Mike Sorrentino Senior Editor
Mike Sorrentino is a Senior Editor for Mobile, covering phones, texting apps and smartwatches -- obsessing about how we can make the most of them. Mike also keeps an eye out on the movie and toy industry, and outside of work enjoys biking and pizza making.
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If you absolutely need to have the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and you already have the 12 Pro Max, you could use this offer to get the phone's cost covered.


Apple's iPhone 13 line is now available for preorder, and the most exciting thing is clearly the trade-in offers. While this year's phone is more of a refinement of last year's iPhone 12 line, those that crave staying on that bleeding edge might essentially get a free iPhone 13 Pro Max by doing a trade-in that includes up to $1,290 toward the phone.

Let me curtail that this isn't for everyone. In fact, it's pretty specific. You need to have purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max and be such a phone enthusiast that you already know you want to upgrade to the 13 Pro Max, even though it's not as significant a leap as say, moving from iPhone X or iPhone XS.

You also need to either be interested in switching to T-Mobile or already be a current T-Mobile customer, and you would like to sign up for (or agree to keep) their Magenta Max plan -- which includes perks like the HD-tier of Netflix and 4K video streaming while on a cellular connection.

So are you a big phone fan that also wants T-Mobile's most expensive plan? If so, here's what you can do to get the iPhone 13 Pro Max essentially for free.


T-Mobile's iPhone 12 Pro Max offer is listed on Apple's website.


First, start by shopping for the iPhone 13 Pro Max directly from Apple's website. When you do, select T-Mobile to get the details on the trade in offer, which spells out that the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with up to $1,290 in credit. If your phone is in good condition (meaning no cracked screen or other damage), $790 of that will come from Apple. The remaining $500 will come from T-Mobile in the form of a bill credit.

The credits are being given regardless of the storage capacity of your iPhone 12 Pro Max, so if you purchased the 128GB version last year at $1,099, you might be able to trade up to the 256GB version of the 13 Pro Max and pay for part of the phone's taxes.

For the first $790, Apple will either give that to you as an instant credit if you choose to pay for the phone in monthly installments or as a credit after you trade in the 12 Pro Max. Once Apple's part of the deal is set, you'll receive a promo code to enter on T-Mobile's website to receive the remaining $500 as bill credits dished out over the course of 24 months (a little less than $21 per month).


The T-Mobile offer listed on Apple's website also shows trade-in offers if you are handing over an iPhone X or iPhone 11.


Yes, as is often the case since the "death" of the two-year contract, if you want to receive the full $500 you will need to stay on T-Mobile for those 24 months. But $1,290 should cover the cost of the 256GB iPhone 13 Pro Max, or be just a few hundred more for the 512GB or 1TB option.

This method also gets you into T-Mobile's "Forever Upgrade" program that guarantees that your new Pro Max will be worth at least $800 in two years, should you want to trade it into the carrier then. 

Watch this: What the iPhone 13 is still missing

A hidden twist for those who did a deal on last year's 12 Pro Max

Here's where your mileage might further vary. We asked T-Mobile on Friday if this promotion stacks onto prior deals offered by the carrier over the last year for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. They said yes, and if that holds up, you might be able to pocket whatever promotion that was and get the iPhone 13 Pro Max covered by the new credits.

So long as you stay with T-Mobile for the remainder of that financing term (which you probably plan to in order to get the $500 discount we discussed above), you should still be able to continue getting those credits even if you trade in the phone to Apple. 

Do note that if you switch before your term is up, you will forfeit the T-Mobile credits from the Apple deal and be on the hook for any remaining balances. Carrier math! 

In my personal experience, when I called T-Mobile's customer service I was told that doing the trade-in would necessitate that I pay off the remaining balance of the iPhone 12 Pro Max I bought last summer with a $500 bill credit that is being dispersed over two years. As a result, I highly suggest that existing T-Mobile customers call their support line to make sure this promotion path works for you, especially if you are currently already receiving a concession.

Would you consider this upgrade to stay on the bleeding edge? Or do you prefer your current iPhone or Android phone? Tell us in the comments.

Eli Blumenthal contributed to this story.