This September, Apple revealed its newest iPhone lineup. The largest option of the iPhone XS Max tops out at $1,499 — nearly two and a half times the price of the iPhone 6. If you don’t have the bankroll to spend on the XS Max, and you don’t want to downgrade to 2014, there’s still hope for you yet. There’s a way to get the latest iPhone tech in your hands without signing your life away. Here are just four ways to get a taste of innovation without paying premium prices.
1. Sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program
For the past three years, Apple fans on a budget have been using its iPhone Upgrade Program to great effect. It’s a financing plan that offsets the cost of a new phone over 24 monthly payments. Once a year has elapsed, the plan allows its subscribers to trade in their old iPhone for a new one. That means, you could sign up now to get the XS Max this year, and by next year, trade it in for the XS Turbo Charge — or whatever name will don the next generation.
How much you pay each month, of course, depends on the model you choose, so you’ll pay more for an XS Max than an iPhone 8 Plus. To be more precise, you’ll pay $68.66 per month for the new 512 GB XS Max. That includes the cost of Apple Care+ and the freedom to switch carriers when you’re ready to upgrade.
While on the surface, $68.66 costs a little more than what the average carrier will bill you when financing this handset, but the addition of Apple Care+, normally $129 for two years, makes it a worthwhile solution. This insurance policy covers theft and accidental damage, even if the XS Max’s OLED Smart Retina HDR display cracks.
2. Clean up your current phone
Picture this: you’re on the subway, listening to the latest episode of This American Life, when the car finally breaches the tunnel and runs along the outside tracks long enough to receive a text. Thinking nothing of it, you click on the notification and then boom, your podcast glitches and your iPhone freezes. Sound familiar? A glitchy phone is one of the most frustrating things to deal with, but it’s not always a sign you need a new one. Sometimes, you just need to give your phone a good scrubbing.
Though not as bad as Android, iPhones aren’t immune to bloatware. Then there’s also those 500 photos you took from your summer vacation and that group of gaming apps collecting dust on your home screen. Restoring your phone to its factory settings is an easy way to get rid of all the things you don’t need or want on your phone.
With carte blanche, you can easily upgrade to the new iOS 12. This new operating system is compatible with any device that already runs iOS 11, so you can get iOS 12 even if you’re texting on an iPhone 5s. CNET tested the beta version of iOS 12 on the 5s and confirmed it performed faster when launching apps, the keyboard, and the camera.
3. Try out Apple’s GiveBack program
The Apple GiveBack program is the relatively new branding of an old reuse and recycling trade-in service to help support the tech company’s latest push towards energy efficiency. Depending on the generation and its condition, you could trade your handset for an Apple Store Gift or a full refund on your purchase. You could get $50, $100, or even $300 on a good phone, which you could then apply to lower the cost of the XS Max.
4. Try the iPhone XR instead
If you’ve reached the absolute end of life, an iOS update and the Apple GiveBack won’t help. Though, to be clear, you can still have your old iPhone recycled for free through the GiveBack program, so don’t throw out your handset in frustration. Do your civic duty and mail it in or drop it off at an Apple Store near me.
While you’re there, check out the iPhone XR. Unveiled alongside its sister models at Apple’s September keynote, the XR is the tech company’s version of a budget phone. The smallest storage option (63 GB) runs at just $749, roughly the same price as most mid-range and premium handsets out today.
The drop in price does come with a few dings in specs. Rather than stainless steel, the XR has an aluminum body with an all-glass enclosure. It has an LCD Liquid Retina screen that lacks the XS series’ HDR displays, but Apple assures it’s the most color accurate screen in the industry. It also only has just one 12-megapixel camera missing the wide angle and telephoto lenses and optical image stabilization found in the XS’ dual cameras.
It does share the latest A12 Bionic chip, the industry’s first 7 nm architecture chip. That means you can expect the XR to run faster than previous generations, launching apps 30 percent faster. It also comes in a wider range of colors than the typical iPhone, including black, white, blue, coral, yellow, and red. While a big step up for Apple, home of the monochromatic handset, the XR is still shy of a full rainbow. People who want a little more personality for their XR will still have to shop from dbrand for the latest iPhone XR skins. These skins for the new iPhone XR come in textures Apple would never offer, including marble, concrete, black camo, and dragon skin. They also boost the grip of its aluminum, preventing a catastrophic fall from ruining your new phone.
Sure, at roughly $1,500, the XS Max is by far the most expensive iPhone ever, but it comes with the look, feel, and capabilities of a premium phone. These specs (and the price itself, let’s be honest) is reason enough to want the XS Max for your own. Your budget, on the other hand, might be screaming “No!” every time you visit its page on the Apple website. Luckily, you don’t have to commit to the full cost right away. If you’re willing to make some compromises, you can get a better working phone without spending your entire savings.