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Tech Matters: Guide to buying a new iPhone 13

By Leslie Meredith - | Sep 22, 2021

Leslie Meredith

Orders have begun for Apple’s new iPhone 13 series, and in some cases, your new device will be available for pickup or shipping once your order has been placed. The lower-priced units, the iPhone mini and the standard iPhone, look to be in stock, while the top-tier models, the iPhone Pro and the iPhone Pro Max, have seen their shipping dates slip to early and mid-October. Shipping dates will also vary based on color and storage, so you’ll want to keep an eye on those differences as well. Apple kept the prices the same as its iPhone 12 series, which brought a sigh of relief to shoppers.

Still, the standard iPhone 13 starts at $800 and that’s not a trivial purchase for most of us. But cost has been mitigated by all major carriers, Apple and other retailers offering a payment plan that lets you spread the cost of the phone over a specified period, typically from 12 to 36 months. This payment is added to your monthly service bill.

Most of the deals for the iPhone 13 series are based on eligible trade-ins of an older phone. But don’t think you’ll get much for any phone prior to the iPhone 8 series.The offers for $1,000 credit toward a new phone? That’s only for last year’s iPhone 12 models. The lesson here is to look very carefully at the terms for purchasing a new phone. Check the limits for trade-ins, the length of a new agreement and eligibility. The priority for service providers is to win new customers, so many of the deals apply only to those switching to the new provider. Let’s take a look at the most popular deals on the market.

You may not have thought to buy directly from Apple, but it offers its own in-house iPhone Upgrade Program that includes 24 zero-interest monthly payments, and you can upgrade to the latest iPhone every year (starting the payment period over). This agreement includes AppleCare+. Currently, Apple is offering between $110 and $790 for trade-ins of an iPhone 8 or newer. You can buy an unlocked iPhone or choose which cellular service provider you want to activate the phone with. The company supports special carrier deals and trade-in offers directly from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, so click or tap on the “Explore All Pricing and Special Deals” option before finalizing your purchase. Note that if you have an Apple Card, you will earn 3% cash back and there are no early payment penalties.

When you add a new line with Verizon, you can save up to $1,000 in bill credits (for 24 or 30 months) when you trade in your old or damaged phone, and then receive an extra $500 virtual prepaid Mastercard as a rebate when you activate the new service on your new iPhone 13. New activations also receive a one-year subscription to the AMC+ streaming service.

For existing customers who are upgrading their phone to any iPhone 13 model, you’ll receive up to $1,000 off in bill credits when you trade in an old or damaged phone (that does not have battery damage). A six-month subscription to the AMC+ streaming service is included.

AT&T has a limited offer that applies to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. You can earn up to $1,000 in bill credits on a qualifying installment plan, add a voice and data wireless plan costing more than $75 per month, and provide an eligible trade-in with a minimum value of $180.

Best Buy has a more generous offer of up to $720 on the iPhone 13 Mini or iPhone 13 with a qualified activation and trade-in of an iPhone 8 or newer. For the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, customers can save up to $1,000 with qualified activation and a trade-in of an iPhone 11 or newer.

Long thought of as a distant second to Verizon and AT&T, T-Mobile is offering a solid incentive to make the switch from their competitors. You can get up to $1,000 off, which you’ll see in bill credits on any iPhone 13 purchase with the trade-in of an eligible smartphone and a commitment to its Magenta MAX plan. Depending on which iPhone model and system configuration you choose for your new phone, the $1,000 in bill credits could translate to a free phone after 30 months. You’ll also get a year of Apple TV+ for free. All iPhone 13 models come with 12 months of Apple TV+ for free.

One last thing: if you are trading in an old phone to buy a new one, be sure to make a backup and then reset the phone to its factory settings.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for the past nine years. She has designed and manages several international websites and now runs the marketing for a global events company. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.

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