How to get ready to pre-order iPhone 13 with the iPhone Upgrade Program

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How to get ready to pre-order iPhone 13 with the iPhone Upgrade Program
The iPhone Upgrade Program gets you a new model every year.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

The iPhone Upgrade Program is Apple’s equivalent of a carrier’s monthly contract. You can upgrade your iPhone every year, and pay a monthly fee instead of buying the handset outright. The upgrade path is simple — there’s a new iPhone every year, and you can upgrade every year.

Here’s how to get ready so you can be ready for iPhone 13 preorders this Friday. Don’t wait until the last minute.

iPhone Upgrade Program: Get a new iPhone every 12 months

Depending on when you got your last iPhone, you may have to pay off a balance before you can upgrade to the newest model. Do so, and you’ll be eligible to order the new iPhones 13 and 13 Pro when preorders start on September 17, for delivery a week later.

The iPhone Upgrade Program spreads the cost of your iPhone over 24 months, but you are eligible to upgrade 12 months after you got your latest handset. If you want to upgrade early, you can just pay the difference. The actual amount you must pay will depend on your individual contract. And the really good news is that you can take care of this all ahead of time.

Get Apple iPhone Upgrade Program pre-approval

Apple will let you get pre-approval for an iPhone upgrade using the free Apple Store app. Pre-approval is available for existing and new iPhone Upgrade Program customers. If you want things to go smoothly when preorders begin, getting pre-approved is essential.

To do so, just open the Apple Store app. Find the iPhone you want, and tap Get Ready. You’ll be prompted to enter all the required info to get your pre-approval set up. This includes:

  • Choosing and configuring your new iPhone.
  • Choosing your level of AppleCare+ coverage.
  • Confirming your carrier (if you have one).
  • Getting your upgrade loan pre-approved.
This is what you’ll see when getting pre-approved for the iPhone Upgrade Program
Apple easily walks you through the pre-approval process for the iPhone Upgrade Program.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

You have to get pre-approval because CitizensOne is loaning you the money to buy your handset. This bank pays Apple and you pay back the bank. You can set up your loan payments so they’re made by your Apple Card, which means you get 3% Apple Cash back.

Once you’ve jumped through the hoops, you simply use the Apple Store app to place your preorder on launch day. If all goes well, your order should go through right away, with no glitches. Pre-approval is available until 9:00 p.m. Pacific on Thursday September 16.

Preorders start the next day, at 5 a.m. Pacific on Friday, September 17.

Send the old one back

Once your new iPhone arrives (if you choose to have it shipped), then you will also get a trade-in kit to send your old iPhone back to Apple.

This part right here is why I don’t use the upgrade program. Those old iPhones have years left in them, and are perfect for handing on to family members. It seems like a small point, but re-using a product is far superior, environmentally, than even the most efficient recycling program.

But if you don’t have someone to hand the device to, the iPhone Upgrade Program is much easier than selling your old device. Apple does all the work.

Get ready for your iPhone 13 upgrade now

Taking a little time to set this up now may mean the difference between getting an iPhone 13 on launch day and having to wait weeks for Apple to fill backorders. If you have any more questions about pre-approval for the iPhone 13, Apple has a page with all the details.