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T-Mobile’s iPhone 8 trade-in deal is complicated, but still worth it

September 14th, 2017 at 3:43 PM
iPhone 8 preorder T-Mobile

The iPhone 8 is here, and with it are more pre-order offers than you can wrap your head around. Order your phone on our network, and get a free iPhone! (with new line of service, seven-year contract, and the trade-in of a qualifying unicorn horn.)

T-Mobile has a handful of new offers attached to the new iPhones, and they’re not simple to understand. But once you wrap your head around it, T-Mobile’s deal is worth considering, especially if you’re a frequent upgrader.

There are two deals going on here. The first is a simple trade-in promo for the iPhone 8: trade in any qualifying device (any iPhone newer than an iPhone 6) and you’ll get $300 in trade-in credit. Most of that comes in the form of an immediate bill credit for the trade-in value of the device, and is applied immediately, and the balance is in bill credits applied over two years. For example, an iPhone 6S Plus might have a trade-in value of $155, determined by T-Mobile’s trade-in calculator. You’ll get that $155 in bill credits immediately, and then the remaining $145 of that $300 value is applied in the form of bill credits spread out over 24 months.

T-Mobile’s second promotion doesn’t take place for another year, but it’s a big deal. If you buy an iPhone 8 on an Equipment Installment Plan right now, you’ll be able to upgrade to next year’s iPhone for free when it comes out. T-Mobile will offer free upgrades to the 2018 iPhone when you trade-in an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X that is over 50% paid off.

Why’s that a big deal? Well, as we highlighted before, none of the new iPhones play nice with T-Mobile’s 600MHz network, so they’re not devices you want to rely on for years to come. But unless you live in Wyoming or Maine, you won’t see the benefits of 600MHz for the next year. Buy an iPhone 8 right now, upgrade to the new (and hopefully 600MHz-friendly!) iPhone X2 next year for free, and you’ll be laughing.

There are still some downsides. When you upgrade from the iPhone 8 to iPhone 8S next year, any remaining trade-in bill credits you have left will be wiped out, so your total trade-in value will be more like $225, not $300. And, as always, you could save money by buying devices outright and selling the old ones on Craigslist; that’s especially worthwhile if you have an iPhone 7 you’re considering trading in, as you’ll get closer to $450, rather than $300.

Still, I get that not everyone has time to spend making shady smartphone deals for cash, and this is a relatively simple way to junk your ageing phone, get an iPhone 8 right now, and still get the newest iPhone next year. It’s not the cheapest, but short of Apple’s eye-watering iPhone Upgrade Program, it sure is the simplest.

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