That Rumored iPhone Subscription Service Doesn't Make Any Sense

That Rumored iPhone Subscription Service Doesn't Make Any Sense

Last week, a claim surfaced regarding a new iPhone subscription service - according to Bloomberg, Apple is working on a means to get iPhones into your hands without you having to pay a high one-time price (or giving loads of money to cell companies).

This would reportedly begin with iPhones, but would subsequently expand to other Apple products, allowing many more people to get their hands on an iDevice because it's simpler to break down the cost into monthly installments rather than seeing it as one large lump amount.

It's Already a Service


Picture: FlipBoard

Yes, it is. Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program allows you to pay monthly for a new iPhone - it starts at $30 or comparable for the iPhone 13 small and goes up to $45 for the 13 Pro Max, and you'll be able to upgrade to the iPhone 14 when it comes out.

At that price, you're essentially receiving an iPhone for around two-thirds of the cost of purchasing it outright for a year - but it's a practical way for many people.

Sure, that doesn't include your SIM card or connectivity, but that shouldn't be too big of a difference depending on your network.

And that's not your only choice if you want to subscribe to an iPhone - have you heard of 'carrier plans'?

Yes, one of the oldest concepts in smartphone history allows you to pay a monthly charge in return for a smartphone - they're not precisely identical in terms of pricing, but they are in terms of concept.

Is Apple re-inventing something that already exists?

So reports about Apple's 'new' subscription service have me perplexed - how is this any different from the plethora of comparable services already available?

The Whole Package

With around 10 million subscriptions, Apple is already far too fond of its subscription services. Apple Fitness, TV Plus, and iCloud+ are all available. Arcade, music, and the list goes on and on (okay, not to 10million, but there are too many to easily remember).

If you want them all, Apple One is the overarching subscription service that subscribes you to a slew of other subscription services (PSA: if you're sick of hearing the phrase subscription service,' we don't recommend reading the remainder of this post on subscription services).

The corporation might add another notch to its belt by incorporating iPhones into current packages - maybe a new tier of Apple One could include a new iPhone and Arcade and Music, or a new iPad alongside TV Plus, or an Apple Watch combined with Fitness.

It could even be a hardware-only strategy for the ultimate Apple enthusiast, garnering you an iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad all in one bundle.

Whatever way you look at it, this alternative isn't cheap - we're talking several hundreds of dollars leaving your account each month only to acquire the latest hardware, assuming that's what happens.

And considering how many subscription services compete for your attention, this is an issue.

Ownership vs Loanership

Gareth Beavis, Editor in Chief at TechRadar, pointed out that this iPhone subscription service might be a phone rental purchase program in which you pay in installments until you've paid off the cost of your iPhone.

This is a typical occurrence with personal automobiles.

The current iPhone Upgrade Program does not allow you to retain the phone once you've paid off the charge; instead, you keep changing devices and paying Apple, basically on a leasing plan.

A hire purchase model does not fit into the subscription model that we are accustomed to - aside from autos, how often do you get to rent anything for money and then retain it?

Do we get to retain my Xbox Games Pass games once we've subscribed for a certain amount of time? Or our fave Netflix movies when we've seen them enough times? That's also true for automobiles these days: certain electric vehicles may be purchased on a long-term lease, which means you're continually paying for the right of driving them.

You no longer buy goods; instead, you subscribe to them and lose them when you decide to stop paying. You pay for access rather than ownership. That's where capitalism has led us, and I don't see Apple deviating from this path.

Subscription Burnout


Picture: Seguro

There are far too many subscription platforms available these days, which a new iPhone subscription plan will exacerbate. Sure, this isn't a recent phenomenon – there's evidence that news subscription services were used as early as the 16th century in Germany – but it's difficult to dispute that there's been a recent increase in the 'pay little and frequently' method of purchasing goods.

But when does it come to an end? When do we say, "I have too many services; I don't need another one"?

It can't be far off - many people recently reached their limit, canceling my Playstation Plus subscription (primarily because it's grown a little crap, as my colleague brilliantly describes here). We believe it's only the beginning of a significant personal cleanse.

Of course, because you're not putting as much consideration into what you spend your money on, this is fantastic for businesses, and it may help Apple get more of its costly iPhones into the hands of purchasers.

It would also assist with buyer's remorse since you might realize you've gone Apple crazy and then return everything and see your bank balance recover. Yes, you've already spent and own nothing, and you can't sell anything to recoup your losses, but it means you can experiment with things far more quickly.

But, with so many other iPhones and smartphone subscription services currently available and the crowded environment of subscription services rapidly approaching a tipping point, I'm challenged to grasp - much alone get enthusiastic about - another Apple one.

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Paul Syverson
Paul Syverson
Paul Syverson is the founder of Product Reviews. Paul is a computer scientist; he used to carry out a handful of significant studies which contributed to bringing in many special features on the site. He has a huge passion for computers and other tech products. He is always diligent in delivering quality writings to bring the most value to people. |