Apple Retail Stores to allow iPhone purchases through U.S. carriers’ early upgrade programs

28 July 2014, 8:12 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Apple Retail Stores will reportedly allow customers to purchase iPhones through U.S. carriers' early upgrade programs in the future, according to a new report.

Such early upgrade programs from carriers in the U.S. include AT&T Next, Verizon EDGE, as well as T-Mobile Jump. This would mark a great step forward, as for now Apple Store customers can only buy a new iPhone either subsidized through a standard two-year service agreement with a carrier, or unlocked and contract-free for the full retail price.

All three early upgrade programs from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, meanwhile, allow customers to upgrade their phones sooner rather than later, splitting the cost of the device into monthly installments that are added to the monthly bill each month. Verizon and T-Mobile, for instance, allow their customers to upgrade twice a year after six months of payments have passed, while AT&T allows upgrades once a year after 12 months of payments have passed.

Apple reportedly plans to put the new strategy into effect right before the highly-expected iPhone 6 launch this fall, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Genius Bar workers, as well as store employees, will reportedly start receiving their training on the program on Sunday, Aug. 10, until Thursday, Aug. 28.

This new move clearly signals that Apple wants to enable customers to do more in its retail stores, likely in a move to boost sales of iDevices. Not too long ago, Apple Stores finally started to allow customers to add prepaid or month-to-month plans when buying unlocked iPhones at full price, something that was previously unavailable.

Apple CEO Tim Cook notably said last year that as much as 80 percent of iPhones were sold at third-party locations, leaving Apple with the meager remainder of 20 percent of the sales. Apple wants to change this and sell more devices itself, and this new move will likely be an important step in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether this new strategy will prove successful or not, but customers will surely welcome the option.

However, keep in mind that nothing is official at this point, therefore a healthy dose of skepticism is strongly recommended. While this move would definitely make sense, we'll have to wait until Apple confirms it to be sure.

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