iPhone Upgrade Programme in 2020 - is it worth it?

As a person who likes technical innovations, I like to play with the latest equipment. When it comes to Apple equipment, if changing the device to a newer one right after its release is not part of our work, a typical upgrade is usually expensive and not always profitable.

Having owned an iPhone 6 a few years ago, I was in no rush to upgrade until the iPhone X came out, which I had for two years. When the iPhone 11 Pro was released, I moved towards purchasing the iPhone XS (yes, one generation back). As the item (an exception to the rule) turned out to be inconsistent with the description, I had to return it, and in order not to be left without a phone, I decided to buy the iPhone 11 Pro 256GB.

As Apple offers 0% installments, the total amount was £49.99 per month with the first payment of £20 and the last payment of £29.23. It’s not some kind of deal, but I don’t overpay at all, as is the case with operators in the UK (especially for individual customers).

I have been looking at Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme1 for a long time. For a fixed monthly fee, you get a new phone, which you can replace with a newer one after a year (without having to pay the remaining “installments”). Apple Care is included in the total, which additionally encourages you to think: is it worth it?

This year, Apple presented the iPhone 12 series of phones. While I am not interested in a pure 12 or mini, I immediately saw the prices for 12 Pro and Pro Max.

Even though my 11 Pro works great and I don’t think about changing it until the next iPhone in 2021, I decided to do a little reconnaissance, especially since iPhones have become a bit cheaper this year compared to 2019 prices.

iPhone 12 Pro (256GB - my recommended minimum and maximum at the same time) costs around £45.79 per month (£4.20 cheaper than 11 Pro last year).

For the price I pay for the 11 Pro (£49.99), I could brag about the 12 Pro Max (256GB) model for £49.95 (and here £0.05 cheaper).

If we want AppleCare+ we will have to add £8.29 per month.

And here’s a little catch. Well, the above prices are calculated for a period of 2 years (24 months). Comparing them directly with the iPhone Upgrade Programme, we can shake our heads.

iPhone Upgrade Programme Comparison

The price of the same iPhone 12 Pro is £61.45 and Pro Max is £66.45.

However, this program spreads the payment over 20 months, after which we can receive a new phone after 11 months of repayment.

PhoneFirst installment20xIn total24m
12 Pro 256GB£69£61.45£1298.00(£54.08)
12 Pro Max 256GB£69£66.45£1398.00(£58.25)

For comparison, when buying normally

PhoneFirst installment23xLastIn total
12 Pro 256GB£20£45.79£25.83£1099
12 Pro Max 256GB£20£49.95£30.15£1199

But without AppleCare+

With AppleCare+ it is as follows:

PhoneCostAppleCare+In total24m
12 Pro 256GB£1099£198.96£1297.96(£54.08)
12 Pro Max 256GB£1199£198.96£1397.96(£58.25)

After rounding by 4p, do you see any difference here?

Comparatively, after 12 months of using the iPhone 11 Pro 256GB, I can still sell it immediately for £526 on musicMagpie recovering at least 43% of the value.

In the iPhone Upgrade Programme we can get a new phone every year, and the price includes AppleCare+ and it looks like this:

PhoneFirst installmentAfter 11x43%Difference
12 Pro 256GB£69£675.95£472.57£203.38
12 Pro Max 256GB£69£730.95£515.57£215.38

As we can see, after paying off 50% (actually over 57%!) of the phone’s value, if we wanted to sell it to replace it with a new one, we would lose between £203.38 and £215.38.

However, when AppleCare+ is not necessary for us (personally, I have a phone insured under my home insurance, and I have used it only once in the last 7 years), the difference is slightly smaller.

And so, when we buy the phone ourselves:

PhoneCostAfter 12m43%Difference
12 Pro 256GB£1099£549.50£472.57£76.93
12 Pro Max 256GB£1199£599.50£515.57£83.93

Here, as we can see, after paying off 50% of the value of the phone, if we wanted to sell it and replace it with a new one, we would lose between £76.93 and £83.93.

The above assumption is valid when we sell our phone at a guaranteed price. By using other sales methods, we can break even or make minimal profit. Additionally, since this year’s phones are “cheaper”, we can profit from this.

As an iPhone X user, looking at the iPhone Xs successor, I realized that by purchasing the X, I became a kind of guinea pig, because all the problems with the X were fixed in the Xs and 11 Pro. By choosing iPhone 12 Pro with an “old” 5G chip that eats up the battery 20% faster, won’t we become another guinea pig until everything is fixed on the next model - whether it will be iPhone 12s or iPhone 13? We will see. Personally, after reading various opinions, I am led to believe that this will be the case. And so, if you have an iPhone 11 Pro, changing to 12 Pro may turn out to be a shot in the foot.

Apple advertises the iPhone 12 Pro with the slogan “It’s a leap year”. For me, it’s more like “It’s a skip year” (i.e., let’s forget about this year’s iPhones and see what 2021 will bring). Anyway, this year sucks enough.