Late August should see the kickoff of a new program at Apple’s retail stores, which will allow customers to purchase a new iPhone via the latest carrier upgrade programs. Currently, any iPhones purchased at an Apple retail location must either be bought via a two-year contract, or at full-price for unlocked models.
AT&T Next allows customers to upgrade to a new phone every 12 or 18 months with no down payment upgrade fee, activation, or financing fee. The price of the phone is rolled into the monthly service bill. T-Mobile JUMP allows customers to upgrade to a new smartphone at their leisure, and the price of the phone is also packed into the monthly phone bill. Verizon EDGE is similar is similar to the T-Mobile and AT&T programs, and it allows the price of the phone to be paid off over the course of 20 months. Sprint also has a similar One Up program, but sources did not have any information on Apple supporting those (yet).
The above comparison chart is from Droid-Life.
The new program is likely to be rolled-out to all Apple Stores later in 2014, after all the initial bugs are worked out of the program, likely before the September debut of Apple’s new flagship handset, the iPhone 6. Tim Cook has noted that he’d like to see more iPhones being sold via Apple’s own stores, as the lion’s share of current iPhone sales are via the carriers’ own retail locations.
9to5Mac reports that training for the new program will begin in Apple stores between August 10th and August 28th.
June saw Apple allow the purchase of iPhones via its retail stores on month-to-month and pre-paid plans.