How To See If You’re Eligible For An Upgrade To The iPhone 5s Or iPhone 5c [iOS Tips]

iPhone 5S

I watched the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c special event yesterday. I went in skeptical, not planning on wanting any of the new iPhones. I never upgraded to an iPhone 4S, so why would I want a 5s?

Turns out, I kind of do. I want a better camera. I want Touch ID and a fingerprint sensor. I want a five times faster CPU, a motion co-processor, and up to 40X faster graphics. Yes. Yes I do.

So I did what any self-respecting first-worlder does, I checked for upgrade availability. You see, here in the US, at least, we’re all kind of stuck on a two-year contract system. To get the subsidized prices, we purchase our phones on a two-year cycle.

If you’re not sure whether you are able to upgrade to a new iPhone 5s (or iPhone 5c) when it’s available, here’s where to look.

First and foremost, if you upgraded to the iPhone 5 last year with a two-year contract, you’re out of luck. Your only option is to buy the new iPhone 5s or 5c with your own money–no subsidy for you.

For the rest of you, all you need to do is drop into your carrier’s website:

If you’d like, you can also head over to the excellent Best Buy upgrade tracker site and enter your phone number and zip code for your availability date. This one will check all four major US carriers on the same page.

  • ElyMantz

    The Apple Store app works as well. You can set up a push notification to let you know when the upgrade is available.

  • CharilaosMulder

    wow 40x the graphics performance compared to the 4S? slow down, its about 4x

  • dcj001

    Rob. You said,” .I want Touch ID and a fingerprint sensor. ”

    Is there a difference¿

  • Bart1

    For AT&T and Verizon at least, you can get a new iPhone – all you have to do is pay the early termination fee. So for example, I bought the Verizon iPhone 5. I would owe $350 – $10/month I’ve been in my existing contract… so for $230 (plus the new phone cost, which you were going to pay anyway) I can go ahead and get a new phone under a new 2 year agreement. Go sell your old phone for near $400 and you are doing pretty well. The iPhone holds its value well and is a great re-sell year after year. I’ve done this for 5 years now and it has always payed the early termination fee and a huge chunk of the new phone. People need not be so nervous about getting the new phone year after year – its super easy!

  • gettysburg11s

    There is another option, at least with AT&T. I am not eligible for an upgrade until next year, but since I am a long time customer, my account says Early iPhone Upgrade. This means that I get $200.00 off the un-subsidized price ($349.00 5C 16GB or $449.00 16GB 5S). I did confirm this by using Apple’s Upgrade Eligibility tool. Of course, thats with a new two year contract.

    I am planning on doing this to get a 5C (blue), and I’ll sell my 5.

  • xxglocoxx

    Hmm..How to find out if you’re eligible for an a upgrade. Contact your provide! God; must be a slow night.

  • roblef

    Rob. You said,” .I want Touch ID and a fingerprint sensor. ”

    Is there a difference¿

    Yeah, I used it to differentiate that Touch ID is the software system Apple has named to work with the fingerprint sensor, which isn’t an Apple brand or invention. Hope that makes more sense?

  • DJBabyBuster

    There is another option, at least with AT&T. I am not eligible for an upgrade until next year, but since I am a long time customer, my account says Early iPhone Upgrade. This means that I get $200.00 off the un-subsidized price ($349.00 5C 16GB or $449.00 16GB 5S). I did confirm this by using Apple’s Upgrade Eligibility tool. Of course, thats with a new two year contract.

    I am planning on doing this to get a 5C (blue), and I’ll sell my 5.

    So you’re going to pay $350 for the exact same internals on the 5c as the 5, with a lame plastic case. Jeez at least get a 5s if you’re gonna drop the dough.

  • DJBabyBuster

    As with all the incremental s updates, I’ll wait for a proper new phone with the 6.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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