iPhone 6s payment plans: the best way to finance your new iPhone

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iPhone 6s
Where should you buy that fancy new iPhone 6s or 6s Plus from? We've got the skinny.
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

There’s never been a more confusing time to buy an iPhone.

If you’re looking for the best deal on a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you have tons of options. From Apple to AT&T, Verizon to T-Mobile, carriers and retailers have expanded their options for buying a new iPhone. That, plus an upheaval in traditional cellphone pricing and plans led by T-Mobile, has us all rather confused.

Where can you find a comparison of all the major US options? Right here, of course. We spent the time with our spreadsheets and the websites of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Apple, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, and (yes) Consumer Cellular to help you cut through the confusion and find the best iPhone purchase plan for you.

This is a comparison of buying your iPhone 6s, not the coverage or monthly cost of phone calls, text or data on any specific carriers, though that will factor in to your choice, of course.

Is there a clear winner when buying an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus? While AT&T and Verizon will give you $300-$400 back in credit for switching to them and turning in your old smartphone and Apple adds the fantastic Apple Care+, you’re not getting any real discounts on the hardware itself. An iPhone costs what an iPhone costs, and most places are simply spreading the full price across a given number of months.

What’s the best value for your money, then?

If you always want the latest Apple device, and don’t mind trading in after a year, Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Plan is the best choice, as it allows you to essentially lease the latest iPhone year after year.

If you tend to break or damage your phone, you should also go for Apple’s plan, which includes Apple Care+, Apple’s pretty good extended warranty program. It includes two incidents of accidental damage, for a fee of course.

If you have an old smartphone to trade in, you can get up to $300 back from Verizon or AT&T, but it will be in the form of a gift card for future services, not a reduction in the price of your new iPhone. Verizon will take $100 off your bill if you are switching to them.

If you want to lower your monthly cost, Sprint will give you a monthly discount that varies with the specific model iPhone you want to buy. You can also save you up to $100 across the full two year agreement.

T-Mobile has a crazy deal, letting you turn in your old iPhone 6 and get a new 16GB 6s for as little as $5 a month (or $9 per month for a 16GB iPhone 6 Plus) if you go with their Jump! On Demand plan for 18 months. Clearly, if you want to use T-Mobile and can get their coverage where you live, this seems like a great deal (at least for the hardware).

Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless both will sell you an iPhone at the same price as Apple, but they want you to pay it all up front. Boost takes $100 off the top of all the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models for using its service, though, making it the better overall deal between these two.

Here’s the cost breakdown for the rest of the carriers.

Note: if you’re reading on your iPhone, be sure to rotate it to landscape to see the full chart info.

AT&T

This big cellular provider will let you break the cost of your iPhone 6s into 12, 18, or 24 payments, and offers a down payment plan to help bring down the monthly cost. You can still get a 2-year contract from them with a more traditional up-front cost, too, for not too much more in total than one of the new Next plans, which can seem somewhat misleading. The Next 24 plan is actually a 30 month agreement, Next 18 is a 24 month agreement, and Next 12 is for 20 months. You can turn your phone in after 24, 18, or 12 months and start a new Next plan at that point, or keep it and continue paying the monthly amounts for the full agreement term.

Next 24

 Next 18

Next 12

30% down payment

+ (28 months)

2 year contract

iPhone 6s 16G

$21.67

$27.09

$32.50

$195/16.25

$199

iPhone 6s 64G

$25

$31.25

$37.50

$225/18.75

$299

iPhone 6s 128G

$28.34

$35.42

$42.50

$255/21.25

$399

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$25

$31.25

$37.50

$225/18.75

$299

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$28.34

$35.42

$42.50

$255/21.25

$399

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$31.67

$39.59

$47.50

$285/23.75

$499

Verizon

These guys have the least confusing plans for buying a new iPhone, and their trade-in program is pretty sweet. There’s not too much to complain about here, and the price is basically the same as the AT&T plan above. The trade-in program is generous, if you don’t mind getting money back in a gift card. There’s no tricky stuff here – you pay for the phone across 24 months, buying it outright. You’ll own the phone when you’re finished.

24 months

Full Price

iPhone 6s 16G

$27.08

$649

iPhone 6s 64G

$31.24

$749

iPhone 6s 128G

$35.40

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$31.24

$749

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$35.40

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$39.58

$949

Sprint

Sprint has some interesting (if confusing) options, though, like a leasing plan that lets you turn in your iPhone 6s after 21 or 22 months in return for a lower monthly cost. If you don’t mind not owning your iPhone outright after a couple of years, this might be a good way to stay up to date with the latest Apple devices. Sprint also offers a 24 month lease, a more standard 24 month financing plan (similar to AT&T and Verizon’s) and the more traditional 2 year contract, as well. If your monthly cost is more important to you than getting to keep the phone at the end of your agreement, then Sprint’s leasing options are worth considering.

21 months lease,

no trade-in

22 months lease,

with trade-in

24 month

lease

24 month, 

no lease

2 year contract

iPhone 6s 16G

$22

$15

$20

$27.09

$199

iPhone 6s 64G

$26.77

$19.77

$25

$31.25

$299

iPhone 6s 128G

$31.53

$24.53

$30

$35.42

$399

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$26

$19

$25

$31.25

$299

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$30.77

$23.77

$30

$35.42

$399

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$35.53

$28.53

$35

$39.59

$499

T-Mobile

The “un-carrier” has your new iPhone at the same monthly price no matter what size or gigabyte option. The way T-Mobile does it, they’ll take a down payment for anything over a 16GB model, and charge you the same monthly price from there. That way, if you have the extra money right now, you can save on your monthly bill, basically paying the same monthly fee as a 16G iPhone 6s or 6s Plus no matter how much storage you opted for. It’s not any cheaper than the other carrier plans, but it’s a novel (and less confusing) way to do it. Their trade-in plan is probably the best of all options, though, so be sure to check it out.

24 months

Down Payment

Full Price

iPhone 6s 16G

$27.08

$0

$649

iPhone 6s 64G

$27.08

$99.99

$749

iPhone 6s 128G

$27.08

$199.99

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$31.25

$0

$749

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$31.25

$99.99

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$31.25

$199.99

$949

Apple

Apple’s got a great deal for you, too, and while the iPhone Upgrade Plan seems a bit more expensive than buying through a carrier like the ones above, you’ll get Apple Care+ (a $129 value), which is a great way to protect your iPhone 6s from accidental damage as well as extending your warranty for another two years. You’ll get an additional two years of regular warranty coverage and up to two accidental damage incidents, which will run you $99 each (which is much cheaper than a new iPhone 6s, for sure). If you just want a new iPhone for yourself, and tend to break them, this is a fantastic way to get your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.

24 months

+Apple Care

Full Price

iPhone 6s 16G

$32.45

$649

iPhone 6s 64G

$37.45

$749

iPhone 6s 128G

$42.45

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$37.45

$749

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$42.45

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$47.45

$949

Consumer Cellular

These guys will give you a discount (about $5 per month) if you are an AARP member, so you know who their target demographic is. Still, it’s a nice, simple plan that will keep your monthly payments down for the 24 months they offer. They’ve got a similar system to T-Mobile, in that you pay the same amount each month but just pay more up front for larger, higher-capacity models.

Downpayment 24 months

Full Price

iPhone 6s 16G

$50

$25

$649

iPhone 6s 64G

$150

$25

$749

iPhone 6s 128G

$250

$25

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 16G

$150

$25

$749

iPhone 6s Plus 64G

$250

$25

$849

iPhone 6s Plus 128G

$350

$25

$949

Still confused? We hope not. While the ins and outs of data plans are your next steps, we hope that this little trip has helped you figure out which is the best way to actually purchase your specific iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.