I enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program last September. How do I upgrade to the iPhone 7?

One year ago, Apple rolled out the iPhone Upgrade Program, which allows you to make monthly payments on your iPhone and upgrade every year, without having to be locked into a two-year carrier plan. It also enrolls your new iPhone in AppleCare+, so you can get a cracked screen fixed or replace a broken device at a reduced price. If you like getting a new iPhone every year, the iPhone Upgrade Program makes it possible for you to do so without having to pay any extra costs.

If you enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program last year when you purchased your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you are eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Here's how!

Make sure you are eligible

If you enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program last September when the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launched, you are eligible for an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Although you signed a 24-month contract, you can trade in your old iPhone – in good condition – for a new one with no extra fees.

You will, however, need to sign a new 24-month contract. So, keep that in mind if you are thinking about getting out of the program.

You can also trade in your old iPhone for the new model if you've only been in the program for 6 months, but you'll have to pre-pay the next 6 months before you can upgrade. So, basically, you'll have to have paid for 12 months of the program before upgrading to the iPhone 7, no matter what.

If you aren't sure about your eligibility, visit Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program Eligibility page and enter your iPhone's serial number and the last four digits of your IMEI number, which can be found under Settings > General > About on your device.

Make sure your iPhone is in working condition

Your "Financed iPhone" (as Apple calls it) has to be in good working condition for Apple to take it as a trade in. An Apple employee will check it out and make sure it qualifies for an upgrade. Apple's Terms & Conditions for the condition of your iPhone are as follows:

For a Financed iPhone to be considered in good physical and operational condition, the Financed iPhone must:

  • Power on and hold a charge;
  • Have an intact and functioning display;
  • Have no breaks or cracks; and
  • Have Activation Lock disabled (you may be asked to disable at the time of upgrade)

If your iPhone doesn't meet the qualifications for trade-in, you'll need to pay either $29 for a cracked screen or $99 for a broken device through your AppleCare+ to fix it. If you have used up your two incidents, you will have to pay an Apple Authorized Service Charge to fix it (which could cost $200 or more). You will be charged these fees during your trade-in appointment.

Make a reservation for an in-store upgrade

Instead of pre-ordering an iPhone on September 9, you will be making a reservation to upgrade your iPhone. Just like pre-ordering, reservations will be subject to availability, and there is a chance that there will be a lot less availability than simply pre-ordering a phone. So, I highly recommend you set your alarm to make the reservation online right at 12:01 a.m. PT / 3:01 a.m. ET / 7:01 a.m UTC on Friday, September 9.

When you go to your reservation appointment, be sure to bring the iPhone you are trading in, your ID, a valid credit card, and your social security number. Apple will need to do another credit check to make sure you are still in good credit standing.

Note: Someone else can upgrade your iPhone on your behalf; however, that person will be responsible for starting a new iPhone Upgrade Program loan agreement. So don't send your 16-year-old kid or someone with poor credit.

What to do if you've had your iPhone replaced for hardware issues

Reader Pulin Kothari, M.D. contacted iMore about an issue involving unrecognized serial or IMEI numbers. If you have had your iPhone replaced for hardware issues in the past year, it is possible that the serial or IMEI number on the replacement device was not updated to your account, showing that you are not eligible for an upgrade.

At the moment, there seems to be a communication problem between Citizens One loan company and Apple. We've put a call in to Apple to see if there is a process for fixing the error. We'll update this post when we find out more.

In the meantime, make sure to check your eligibility right away so you know whether or not everything is in order.

What to do if you can't preorder through the iPhone Upgrade Program

If you tried pre-ordering your iPhone 7 or iPhone7 Plus through the iPhone Upgrade Program at 12:01 a.m. on September 9 and were thwarted by limited stock right away, or even told you can't make a reservation at all, you might still be able to get your desired model, color, and storage size after all.

As noted by MacRumors, Apple has added a footnote to the upgrade reservation page asking customers to call 1-800-APPLE and mention the iPhone Upgrade Program in order to be connected with a support operator that will "help you find the model you want."

Even if you, disappointedly, went ahead and preordered an iPhone that wasn't your first choice, you should call. You might be able to change your order to get the model, color, or storage size you want.

Any questions?

Pop them into the comments and we'll help you out.