Why pay for your brand new iPhone 7 when you can get one for free*? T-Mobile and Sprint slapped together a couple of somewhat convoluted promotions in an effort to woo iPhone upgraders, and now Verizon has followed suit. In a nutshell, these deals allow you to trade in an old iPhone and get a credit toward your new iPhone 7. Then, you have to pay the balance in full for that iPhone 7, but the amount they pay is credited back to you in the form of wireless bill credits over the course of 24 months.
Is it really a good deal? Yes and no.
Verizon's free* iPhone 7 deal is a lot like the ones offered by T-Mobile and Sprint. In Verizon's case, trading in your old iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus gets you a credit to use toward your new iPhone. That amount will apply to the balance of the phone's cost, and the money will be credited to your wireless bill each month for 24 months.
So, you can get a 32GB iPhone 7 for free as long as your trade-in is worth the full $650. You'll have to mail your old phone to Verizon and beginning 2-3 months later, you'll see a credit on your Verizon bill each month for 24 months, ultimately totaling $650 and canceling out your new device payment each month. You can also use this deal and apply the credit (up to $650) toward a more expensive iPhone model, and you'll only have to pay the difference — again, spread out over 24 months.
Should you take advantage of one of these free* iPhone 7 deals? If you want a brand new iPhone 7 and you plan to keep the phone for two years, then these free* iPhone 7 deals aren't bad at all. They're basically... wait for it... subsidized cell phone plans. That's right ladies and gentlemen, we've come full circle.
If you want to upgrade next year when the completely redesigned iPhone 8 is released, you'll have to pay the balance of your subsidy before you can. There will be new subsidy plans masquerading as free* iPhone deals next year though, so it's difficult to say how big of a hit you'll end up taking.
To take advantage of Verizon's deal, simply head to Verizon's iPhone 7 preorder page and purchase the phone using monthly payments. During you can select the option to trade in your old phone.
Updated to clarify wireless bill credit process.
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