Looking for the best way to buy a new iPhone? Here's how you get it done.

The launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is upon us, and there are a lot of options for making your purchase. While we feel that the best way to buy your new iPhone is through the iPhone Upgrade Program using the Apple Store app, we've also assembled the best alternatives for those that want or need to purchase another way.

Best overall

iPhone Upgrade Program



If you're a Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint customer looking for a quick and easy way to get your hands on the iPhone 7, then you'll want to use the Apple Store app to buy it through the iPhone Upgrade Program.

The program allows you to pay a monthly fee for an unlocked phone, rather than the full up-front price, with an option to upgrade to a new phone once per year. You'll only need to pay the phone's sales tax up front. What's more, AppleCare+ service is included, which covers phone support and two accidental damage incidents.

Use the Apple Store app

Pro-tip: You can sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program via the Apple Store App. Another pro-tip: The Apple Store App is the best way to pre-order a new iPhone. Using the app, you get all of the advantages of ordering online, without having to worry about stalling pages. You can use your existing credit card information to make your purchase, buy with gift cards, and even check out with Apple Pay. It also requires very little effort on your part, which is great for those late-night pre-orders.

Note for T-Mobile customers

While T-Mobile customers can use the iPhone Upgrade Program, it is not available for them online. Instead, you'll need to head to your nearest Apple Store and sign up for the program there.

Why you might want to skip the iPhone Upgrade Program

Despite its advantages, there are reasons you might not want to get your phone through the iPhone Upgrade Program.

The biggest reason you may want to avoid the program is the monthly cost. While a 32GB iPhone 7 costs $27.05 per month through AT&T's installment plan, for instance, that same phone costs $32.41 through the iPhone Upgrade Program. While Apple's price factors in AppleCare+, if you don't feel like you need that protection, why should you pay extra for it?

Additionally, if you like owning your phone, the iPhone Upgrade Program might not your best option. While you can certainly hang on to the same phone for 24 months, the program seems geared more towards those who upgrade every year and don't mind parting with their older device.

Best for no strings

Buy it outright



If you've been piggy-banking your hard-earned cash, you can buy the iPhone outright!

If you're not keen on having to make monthly payments, being forced into an upgrade schedule, or being tied to a specific carrier, this is a great option.

If you're buying outright, here's what you can expect to pay:

Model Price
iPhone 7 (32GB) $649
iPhone 7 (128GB) $749
iPhone 7 (256GB) $849
iPhone 7 Plus (32GB) $769
iPhone 7 Plus (128GB) $869
iPhone 7 Plus (256GB) $969

Best on a budget

Installment plan



If you'd rather not drop a huge amount of dough all at once, you can spread it out over multiple months with an installment plan. It's exactly what it sounds like: You take the full price of the phone and divide it up over 12, 24, or 36 monthly payments (usually with 0% interest).

This is the best option for those on a budget, because you can increase or decrease your monthly payments depending on how soon you'd like to pay off your device and upgrade to a new one.

Best with a carrier

Carrier payment plan



If you're tied to your carrier (i.e. you've already started an installment plan on Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.), the carrier payment plan might be best for you.

Most carriers have moved away from the subsidized two-year contract option, instead offering you the option to pay a monthly installment plan along side your monthly fees for data, text, etc.

  • AT&T offers an AT&T Next plan that lets you to upgrade your phone every one or two years.
  • Verizon offers an Annual Upgrade Program that lets you upgrade your phone each year provided you've paid off at least 50% of your installment plan.
  • T-Mobile offers T-Mobile Jump!, which gives you the option to upgrade your phone provided you've paid off at least 50% of your installment plan.
  • Sprint offers the iPhone Forever plan, which โ€” for $22 a month โ€” lets you trade up to the latest iPhone at no extra charge.

Not the best

Trade up



If you're not tied into any upgrade or carrier plans, you may want to trade in your current iPhone for credit toward your next one. You can visit an Apple Store with the phone you want to trade in to get instant credit or fill out an online form and mail in your phone โ€” you'll get a gift card by mail.

This option is arguably worse than the others. That's because โ€” at most โ€” you're getting $250 toward the purchase of your next phone, so you're not necessarily walking away with the new iPhone 7 in hand. That said, if you have an older device you're willing to part with, trading it in for credit isn't a bad idea. Who knows, maybe Liam will be the one recycling it!

Conclusion

The iPhone Upgrade Program is a solid option for most people looking to get their hands on a new iPhone, and using the Apple Store app makes buying through the program even easier. With AppleCare+ included in the monthly cost, it also gives you extra piece of mind about your brand new phone.

Best overall

iPhone Upgrade Program



If you're a Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint customer looking for a quick and easy way to get your hands on the iPhone 7, then you'll want to use the Apple Store app to buy it through the iPhone Upgrade Program.

The program allows you to pay a monthly fee for an unlocked phone, rather than the full up-front price, with an option to upgrade to a new phone once per year. You'll only need to pay the phone's sales tax up front. What's more, AppleCare+ service is included, which covers phone support and two accidental damage incidents.