Editor's Desk: Has the time come to rent iPhones?

Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro compared with Sierra Blue
Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro compared with Sierra Blue (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

With Apple's spring event in the rearview mirror and its new devices now arriving for customers, this started as a slow week in tech. And then Thursday hit. That's when Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said that Apple might soon let people subscribe to a hardware package for the first time. If this rumor is correct, it could become a game-changer and a fast one. The first subscription could be announced as early as September. We also heard about the 2023 MacBook Air, which might come with a new name, and learned more about the recently released Mac Studio.

Will Apple become Rent-a-Center?

In recent years, Apple has increasingly relied on subscriptions to pad the bottom line as iPhone sales growth has inevitably slowed. Until now, those subscriptions have been for digital content only, such as music, games, and fitness lessons. In just a few months, Apple could reveal its first hardware subscription plan directly tied to the upcoming iPhone 14 series. That's right; we could soon rent iPhones.

According to Gurman, Apple's working on a subscription service that would bundle iPhone or other hardware products and its current digital packages such as Apple Music and Apple Arcade. You get all this for one monthly fee.

Beyond the headline, Gurman didn't offer specifics on Apple's possible hardware subscription service. However, he was correct in noting it would be "Apple's biggest push yet into automatically recurring sales." As Oliver Haslam suggested, "using an iPhone as a gateway to Apple's services is genius and cynical."

Don't get me wrong, as a consumer; I love the idea of paying one (small?) fee each month for everything Apple. And yet, I worry such an offering could quickly make the company very lazy on the innovation front, especially if, like auto-leases, these subscriptions were difficult to end. No doubt, we'll hear more about this in the coming months, so say tuned! Would you rent iPhones?

It's MacBook, right?

Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: iMore)

It was just two weeks ago when I suggested Apple should reconsider using the singular MacBook name for a future laptop. Now comes word Apple might reveal its first new 15-inch MacBook since 2019 and call it ... MacBook.

I'm not a fortune teller, but it always made sense if Apple has a MacBook lineup; it needed a MacBook in it. Now it looks like that may happen again, and kudos to Apple if true.

The new MacBook could arrive late in 2023 and join the 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. A refreshed MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are expected to arrive later this year.

The Mac Studio push

Apple's best Mac, design-wise, the Mac Studio, began arriving at buyer's doors this week. Apple has gone all-out in promoting the new device, which starts at $1,999.

Kate Bergeron, Apple's vice president of hardware engineering, for example, sat with GQ for a rare interview. This followed the recent TechCrunch visit with Apple executives, Tom Boger and Shelly Goldberg.

Mac Studio isn't for most Mac buyers because of its price point. Nonetheless, it's great to see people other than Tim Cook pushing a new product. I can't wait to see who Apple uses to promote the company's long-rumored AR/VR headset.

Cheers and thanks for reading,


Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

  • Uum people already do that with the iphone upgrade program..
  • In a way, yes. However, I'm assuming under this plan the phone is never ours and can be returned at any time, probably with a fee attached.
  • So this should slow down the "who's using their iPhone without a case?" posts as turn ins have to be in acceptable condition or you own it.
  • Eh not really. Just because people don't use a case doesn't mean their iPhones will be destroyed. I've seen plenty of iPhones in cases with jacked-up screens because with a case people felt their iPhone wouldn't break and were less careful with it.
  • These types of posts are irritating. No, you don't see more people without cases with better looking iPhones than people who use cases.
  • Actually, before you get your panties in a wad, I have seen iPhones in cases that looked like they were never in a case (scratches, cracked screens, etc.) while also seeing iPhones without being in cases that looked pristine. Not everyone is so careless with their devices and this isn't a "one size fits all scenario" I never claimed this is the case for all iphones that are not in cases, but to assume a case will magically fix all problems is laughable.
  • If I don't have the option to buy an iPhone outright, I'll switch over to Android and I won't care one bit. I prefer to own my phones outright. I don't rent. I'm not going to have a company force me to make monthly payments on a device to get me to subscribe to a subscription service I don't want or need just so they can pad their bottom line. I'm not playing that game. "You will own nothing and be happy" comes to mind when I read this and it makes me angry.
  • Why is this of interest and so news worthy all over the internet? People aren't churning their iPhones enough, so to jack the stock price Apple is going to dangle a subscription model out there...the second coming of the AT&&T and Verizon three-year contracts to lock in subscribers. Are people really that stupid (or so hungry for iPhones they'll bust their budgets a different way)?
  • That's why I left Verizon - I don't want to get stuck making payments on a device for 3 years. And that's why I'll ditch Apple if they go with a subscription-based model. I don't want another subscription service. I'm already cutting down my streaming services because literally every company out there now wants us to subscribe to something and it's getting ridiculous. Not sure why people have a problem with my opinion on this. It's my money and I'll spend it however I want.
  • I'm with you. If there is no option to buy outright, I'll move to android - even though I swore I wouldn't.
  • Where does it say you wouldn't be able to buy an iPhone, outright, or over time? You're probably going to move to Canada and run Linux too, right?
  • I mean, right here in this article and CNET. You did read the article, right? Not sure what this has to do with Canada.
  • Care to quote the sentence that says this would be the only option going forward?
  • I’ll keep buying my phones at full retail, thank you very much. And for those other few people, don’t be stupid. Of course Apple isn’t going to go full subscription only. You know how many people and carriers that would **** off. This will just be another option for those that are completely in the ecosystem and have no plans to leave long term.