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How to tell if you're eligible for an iPhone 6 and how much you'll pay

Steve Sande, @stevensande
September 10, 2014
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For those of us in the tech blogging business, yesterday started up yet another round of the "should I or shouldn't I?" questions -- as in "Should I get a new iPhone 6 to replace my iPhone 5s that I bought last year, or wait?" The answer is that everyone can pretty much get a new phone if they really want one, it's just how much you'll have to pay for it or how long you'll have to wait to get it at the best price. With my particular case as an example, let's find out how to see just how much you'll have to pay or how long you'll need to wait.

Here's my situation: I have a 32GB iPhone 5s (gold) in really good condition that I purchased last year at the launch. It's running on the AT&T network. Now I've already committed to Gazelle to sell them the phone for at least $275, so I have that "rebate" to consider.

Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd sent out a tweet yesterday with the codes that subscribers on the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon networks can dial to get an immediate idea of their eligibility. Those codes are:

  • AT&T: *639#
  • Sprint: 1311
  • T-Mobile: #874
  • Verizon: #874

So, I dialed the AT&T number and within a few seconds received this text response:

Great. So, they want me to switch to one of the AT&T Next 12 plans, which means that I pay an installment every month for my new phone... I needed more information, so the next thing to do was go to Apple's website, naturally. You'll want to go to the iPhone 6 "Buy" page. Down under section 3 "Choose A Carrier" you'll find a link for checking your eligibility with your carrier:

Carrier eligibility

Click that link, and you'll be asked to select your current wireless carrier. Note that T-Mobile isn't on the list since they provide unlocked phones at "full price" instead of at a carrier-subsidized price. So, upon clicking the AT&T button, I was asked to enter my wireless number, billing zip code, and the last four digits of my Social Security Number before clicking the big blue Check Eligibility button.

While the results showed all available iPhones, I was just interested in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Here's what they offered:

Now, since I need to start writing reviews of iPhone cases and other accessories as soon as possible, I will be sitting at my computer in my underwear at 1 AM MDT on Friday morning anxiously trying to get my device ordered. That means that the nice $250 "discount" I could get for waiting until October 5, 2015 is not an option. If I decide to get the 64GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus for $649, that means I'll be getting the phone for essentially about $374 after my Gazelle rebate. That's painful, but not too bad.

Alternatively, I supposed I could see what that AT&T Next 12 package is all about... That $42.45 per month price tag apparently also activates a discount of about $25 per month on certain wireless plans, which means I'd be spending about $17.45 per month for the phone. That honestly does look like the best possible deal since it essentially drops the cost of the phone down to a bit over $200 for one year, but I'm just not sure I want to change plans.

This is just my case, and I'm sure that every TUAW reader out there has a slightly different set of circumstances that they'll need to take into account. How about you? Are you going to wait until your two-year contract is officially over, or get a new phone now and start a new contract? Will the iPhone 6 make you think about one of those AT&T Next or Verizon Edge plans? Tell us about your plans in the comments below.

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