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Apple is planning a hardware subscription service for iPhones and more

Iphone 13 Review Hero
Iphone 13 Review Hero (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple could be considering offering iPhones and other products via subscription.
  • Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple could soon let people subscribe to a hardware package for the first time.
  • It isn't known when, or even if, this will become something Apple offers to customers. But Gurman says next year is a possibility.

Apple is reportedly working on a new subscription service like nothing else it has done before. This subscription isn't about services or software — it's about hardware and you could get a future iPhone via a monthly subscription instead of buying it outright.

The move, which is reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, would see people pay for iPhones and other hardware via a monthly subscription for the first time. The project is said to be in development which means it could change or be canned entirely, but Gurman says it's being worked on right now.

Apple Inc. is working on a subscription service for the iPhone and other hardware products, a move that could make device ownership similar to paying a monthly app fee, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Apple currently allows people to do something similar to this via the iPhone Upgrade Program. It isn't immediately clear how this new service would differ, but it seems likely that users would simply pay a monthly fee and get whatever the current iPhone happens to be. Expect there to be different tiers which would then get people into either the standard devices or their Pro variants — think iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, for example.

Details are still scarce but this isn't the first time we've heard of these kinds of plans — analysts were making similar subscription noises in 2020, too.

Gurman believes that the subscription could tie into Apple One and AppleCare+ in some way, while he also mentions that this could all launch "by next year."

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • WOW! I've have asked for this for 10 years! I would like to subscribe to a Mac (iMac or Mac Mini for me) and an iPhone (not quite top of the line will do) and pay about $80 to $100 per month including iCloud and some other services. I would like to be locked into a lease for 12 to 24 months, and have the option of turning in the gear, or getting updated to the next gen (my choice) when the lease ends! YES!
  • I buy my phones outright since I want to own my phones. If Apple makes me pay for a subscription service, effectively making me rent a phone, I won't even think twice about switching over to Android.
  • I purchase my phones outright and if this takes place, no more iphone for me. I was also considering going from Windows workstation to a Mac, but now, no. Looks like Linux may be in the queue.
    "You'll own nothing and be happy" - WEF