iPhone upgrade strategy

It’s time for my wife and I to upgrade our phones from 11 pros to 13 pros and I need some advice. In the past we’ve paid off the phones monthly, but that actually doesn’t seem a good strategy for us any longer. I’d like to pay both phones off (we still owe a couple of hundred dollars on each) and then buy the 13 pros outright. Of course at that point we’ll have phones to offload and I’m wondering about the best way to do that. Not sure if it makes any difference, but we’re on ATT (where we bought the phones we have). We’re in a rural area and while reception is not great, I think it’s still our best option.

So, do we trade them in somehow? Do we sell them to someplace like Gazelle? Do we buy the new phones from Apple or from ATT?

I thought these questions would be easy to answer, but the more I dig into the subject on apple.com or att.com the more confused I get.

My wife and I are on the Apple upgrade plan. She typically hangs on to her phone for 2 years at which point we pay it off but I am a bit of a phone nerd and upgrade my phone annually. I simply look at it as a phone lease that I pay monthly for. Brings me joy…what can I say. I like the upgrade plan because it comes with AppleCare+ for the full 2 years of the payment plan and for a couple extra bucks a month it is covered for whatever reason it might disappear. This is not for everyone, but it works for us.

I am not from US, so my experience is a bit different. Personally I purchase though the provider only if there is a benefit from that, in other words buy from the place that brings your whole cost down.

There are two different costs to consider: 1. Phone cost. 2. Monthly plan.

If you are getting better plans from ATT by buying the phone from them, then go for it. However if the cost of the plan separately in addition to the phone from Apple is cheaper, then get it from Apple. From servicing perspective, Apple treats both phones the same.

As for the old phones, I believe someone from US can give you better advice.

Should have included this in my message. I often end up selling my wife’s phones privately and generally have no issue. Her last phone, an iPhone 10s, I just posted on Facebook and had a buyer in less than 10 minutes paying my $300 asking price which was a tad more that what Apple would have paid for it.

On my last upgrade I looked at selling the phone on eBay but the selling prices were only about $25 more than Apple offered on trade. I usually buy my phones outright.

You need to make sure that your phone is not locked to AT&T before selling it.

Another option is a hand me down to a deserving relative.

The last two phones we have gotten for my wife, a iPhone 11 Pro and a iPhone 13 Pro, we bought directly from Apple and traded in the previous phone (to Apple). The 13 Pro was $1000 but we got $450 for the 11 Pro, and the trade-in process is a breeze - and no CraigsList Flakes.

Previously we had gotten phones from AT&T but I like this process better. Although we have no plans to leave AT&T, we’re not tied to them at all any more because we bought the phones unlocked.

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After buying the phones unlocked, was it straightforward to activate with ATT? Thanks.

No need to activate, just take the SIM card out of the old phone and put it in the new phone.

I took jec0047’s advice: paid off my phones at ATT, ordered unlocked phones from apple and am trading the old ones in. Thanks to everyone who responded.


I just traded in my iPhone 11 for a new iPhone 13 Pro through AT&T. Basically free after the trade in, (which is pending). I wasn’t planning to upgrade but this was a no brainer since they gave me more than I originally paid for the phone 2 years ago.

Check if that upgrade/trade in deal is still available, pay off the old phones and you may get the new ones for nothing.