Apple's newly-introduced iPhone Upgrade Program may be benefiting T-Mobile, and perhaps Sprint, more than the bigger U.S. carriers. The program is reportedly causing many customers to consider the two lower-cost networks over AT&T and Verizon, with T-Mobile reporting its best-ever iPhone quarter. The boost was apparently aided by the Upgrade Program.
T-Mobile said last week it had its best iPhone quarter ever, not only because of surging sales in its own stores but also from consumers who bought their handset directly from Apple, just as analysts had predicted. Sprint Corp.'s quarterly results on Tuesday may show more evidence that Apple's September move to sell iPhones in monthly installments is so far benefiting lower-priced carriers.
For their parts, Verizon and AT&T say they don't see the consumer benefit of leasing programs over carrier-based financing options. Given that initiatives like the iPhone Upgrade Program divorce a phone from a carrier, this sentiment isn't exactly surprising.
The iPhone Upgrade Program was first introduced with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and allows customers to get unlocked iPhones directly from Apple without paying the full phone price up front. Starting at around $32 per month for a 16GB iPhone 6s, customers get an unlocked phone for the carrier of their choice, along with AppleCare+ protection for their device, and the ability to upgrade to a new phone once per year. For more information on the iPhone Upgrade Program, read our in-depth FAQ..