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Last month I bought a new iPhone as I do every other year. I decided to go with the bigger iPhone 6S Plus Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? The term "phablet" very much applies to Apple's recently announced iPhone 6 Plus, but there's more to it than just a bigger screen. Read More rather than the 6S which Tim Brookes checked out and loved iPhone 6s Review and Giveaway iPhone 6s Review and Giveaway Spoiler alert: if you like iPhones, you’re probably going to love the iPhone 6s. But are you really surprised? Read More . This time, however, I did something a little differently. Rather than buying from my carrier, I bought it straight from Apple themselves.

It turned out to be a great decision. Here’s why you should do it too.

It’s Mine, All Mine

I paid in full, up front for my iPhone. This makes it a good bit more expensive than paying a carrier’s subsidized rate, but the advantage is that it’s completely mine to do with what I will.

Although you technically own the phone even if you buy it with a subsidy, the carrier will make up the money they lose at the start over the course of your contract. Here in Ireland, the contract for an iPhone or a high end Android phone like the Galaxy S6 Edge Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Gear VR Review and Giveaway Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Gear VR Review and Giveaway Samsung sells more Android devices than any other manufacturer, and thanks to some aggressive marketing, the Galaxy brand is almost synonymous with Android. Read More , is far higher than a similar contract for a cheaper phone.

Completely owning my iPhone gives me a lot more choice. If the worst came to the worst and I needed some quick cash, I could sell it (knowing that Apple products hold their retail value Apple Tax: Why Do Macs Hold Their Resale Value? Apple Tax: Why Do Macs Hold Their Resale Value? You've probably heard it before: Macs may cost more, but they hold their value. Is this true, and if so why? Read More ). If, however, it was a carrier subsidized phone I sold, I’d still have to pay the carrier more money over the course of the iPhone contract, even if I used a $20 dumb phone for the remainder of it.

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If you like the freedom of actually owning your phone with no strings, you should buy your iPhone from Apple.

Freedom From Contracts

While it’s nice to own the phone up front, the greatest reason to buy your iPhone directly from Apple is that you can get one free of attachment to any particular network provider. The iPhone I bought is network unlocked. I can change providers and plans whenever I want.

Outside of the US, prepaid cell phone plans are a lot more popular. For about $25 a month, I can get a prepaid plan that includes around 100 minutes of calls, free texts, and 5GB of data. A package like that, with no month-to-month commitment is hard to turn down, especially when my previous contract was closer to $75 a month, and didn’t include a whole lot more.

If an even better offer comes along, I can jump ship as I please. If you want the flexibility to follow the best deals, you should buy your iPhone from Apple.

Freedom From Roaming Charges

Using your phone internationally can be really expensive No Roaming Fees: How Traveling Internationally Can Be Cheaper No Roaming Fees: How Traveling Internationally Can Be Cheaper There's no reason to spend a dime on roaming fees. Yet, I constantly hear about people forking over their hard-earned money to talk with friends or family while traveling abroad. Read More . Unfortunately, if your phone’s locked to your a network in your home country, there’s only so much you can do about it. If, however, you’ve got an unlocked iPhone — handily purchased direct from Apple — you can pick up a cheap local SIM card and use your phone as normal.

This was one of the deciding factors for me. I spent a few months travelling this summer and came home to some slightly unpleasant bills. I was expecting them, but still — paying twice my monthly average because I’d used my phone a bit in another country grated. Now, I don’t have to worry about it at all.

If you travel internationally for even a few weeks a year, the savings you make on your phone bill could go a long way towards making up the difference between the carrier subsidized price and the Apple price of an iPhone. As most contracts are 18, or 24 months long, if you’re planning to travel (or even just want the option to) over the next two years, you should buy your iPhone from Apple.

Apple Has an Amazing Return Policy

I bought the iPhone 6S Plus but I wasn’t sure about it. I was jumping from a 5S and I knew it was going to be a lot bigger. I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be too big or not.

Fortunately for me, Apple gives you 14 days from when you receive your iPhone to decide whether or not you want to keep it. If you don’t, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. This meant I could comfortably check out the 6S Plus without worrying that I was committing to two years with a comically oversized phone.

In the end, I decided to keep it. If I’d bought directly from a carrier I wouldn’t have had the same flexibility. Returning my phone would have involved jumping through a lot more hoops.

I had to buy my iPhone online because there are no Apple Stores in Ireland, but if you are lucky enough to live near one, you should buy directly from the store. That way there’s a physical location for you to return it to if you want; you don’t have to deal with the hassle of prepaid shipping labels and courier collection times.

If you’re not sure what iPhone you want and want the option to try it out for a few days, you should buy your iPhone from Apple.

A Note on the iPhone Upgrade Program

This year Apple has introduced a new iPhone Upgrade Program. For a reasonable monthly fee you get a new iPhone for the year. At the end of the year, you return it and swap it in for the latest model. While this sounds great on paper, I’m not convinced.

While it’s probably a step up from getting your phone from your carrier, you’re still tied in to monthly contracts and you lose all the flexibility that I got with my all-up-front iPhone.

When You Shouldn’t Buy From Apple

While buying directly from Apple is great, it probably isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t able to pay the full price up front, are able to get a decent deal on a contract, aren’t planning on travelling anywhere much, or know what iPhone you want, you won’t see anywhere near the benefit I did.

However, it’s still an option you should consider. The iPhone Upgrade Program might work instead of buying straight from your carrier, that way you at least get some flexibility.

Where do you buy your iPhones? Do you buy them from a carrier or straight from Apple themselves like I do? Let us know what you do and why in the comments.

  1. Tyler
    May 6, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Really great article, thank you!

  2. bill Cardwell
    November 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    "there are no Apple Stores in Ireland" What happened to them? I was in the Dublin one a month ago!

    • Harry Guinness
      November 20, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Ah they're CompuB. They're independent shops but they go out of their way to look like Apple Stores.

  3. AnthonyL
    November 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Apparently the author of this article doesn't live in Canada, which the iPhone is 1½-2x more then the price in the US.

    • Harry Guinness
      November 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      No, I live in Ireland where it's about 20% more expensive. It doesn't change anything.

  4. Carlos Gomez
    November 20, 2015 at 2:46 am

    In the US, all Verizon Wireless Phones are unlocked and work with SIM cards from around the world without having to ask Verizon to unlock the phone. My wife and I both have iPhones (5s and 6 plus) on a two year comtract and have gone to Colombia in South America and we just plugged in a SIM card from a local carrier and were able to connect immediately.

    • Harry Guinness
      November 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Wow that's super awesome! No European carrier does that!

      • rk
        December 3, 2015 at 12:56 am

        Harry, I have been with Verizon in the US for 16+ yrs. Not ALL phones are unlocked. Only GSM phones can be used internationally with a local SIM and they are much more expensive. Even those, it's tied to Verizon and getting it unlocked was not an option when I shopped and did a lot of research. I have a iphone6 on a 2 yr contract and it's CDMA. This means I can't change the SIM card and I had to get a local cheap phone in ASIA last month. We travel a lot and have never used our Verizon phones as they are expensive to do so. I would love to know how you got a GSM phone unlocked from verizon.

        • Darth
          December 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm

          Direct from Apple's site- question and answer:
          "The iphone 6 from verizon is unlocked like the older models?
          Yes, the iPhone 6 and 6 plus are unlocked. I've used my iPhone 6 with T-mobile, MetroPCS, and TelCell (Mexico's cellphone carrier) and it has worked just fine."

          The Verizon iPhone 6 and up have all the needed carrier bands in them. Just remove the LTE sim and insert the other sim as needed.

  5. Bill Cooper
    November 19, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Enjoyed your comments almost as much as the article.

    • Harry Guinness
      November 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Hahahaha thanks Bill!

  6. Howard Blair
    November 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Buy an Apple device? ROFLMAO! Who says bloggers don't have a sense of humor?

    • Harry Guinness
      November 18, 2015 at 11:22 am

      And the commenters!? They're just so witty!

  7. Naveen
    November 15, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Apple's return policy is amazingly nice, only thing I like about Apple. I had bought a iphone 6s plus online as a gift to someone. Since the person did not like the phone we returned it by just walking into apple store.

    Yes products bought online can be returned in apple store with in return window.

    • Harry Guinness
      November 18, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Wow really!? That's news to me. And pretty awesome.

  8. likefun butnot
    November 14, 2015 at 1:30 am

    I can't think of a single justification for purchasing an iOS device in the first place, but the author should be aware that cellular providers in the USA don't work the way they do in the rest of the world. Swappable SIMs aren't necessarily a thing here and it's not always immediately clear which network/technology an MVNO needs, which incentivizes purchasing a handset from the carrier to assure compatibility.

    • Thunder Sky
      November 14, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      @likefunbutnot - I can think of many reasons to buy an iOS device.

      1) Latest Updates Guaranteed to all the people at the same time.
      2) The greatest mobile OS ever.
      3) Quality apps that no one can ever match.
      4) Screen don't blink like Android.
      5) It doesn't optimize 200 apps at every force restart.
      6) So simple that even new born babies can use.
      7) Will install any app and not like Android where it will download but not install even if there is GBs of space available.
      8) Malware chances are very less.
      9) Rock solid reliable.
      10) Looks like it is made by God himself.

      • likefun butnot
        November 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm

        @Thunder Sky,

        Are you perhaps not a native English speaker? I believe you are misusing the word "greatest" in your second point and your list only deteriorates in both quality and meaning from there.

        • Thunder Sky
          November 16, 2015 at 6:26 am

          @likefunbutnot - Now you are just giving excuses. Tell me any of the point that doesn't have any "meaning". As far as my testing goes, the above points are 100% correct.

        • Harry Guinness
          November 18, 2015 at 11:24 am

          I'm gonna score this 2-0 to Thunder Sky.

          And as for the US situation, AFAIK swappable SIMs are on two of the major three carriers? With one hard connecting it to the phone with some other set up that's also supported by the SIM free iPhone. Could be wrong!

      • David Catalano
        November 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

        11) if you're able to treat it right, you can easly sell your old ios device at >=70% of the original price. that's the main reason i'll switch on the apple side :D

        Sorry for my poor english, i'm not a nativie english speaker :D

      • Diana
        October 11, 2016 at 3:18 am

        I've had two iPhones and they both broke and I'm easy on a phone. I now have a Samsung galaxy and it's a trooper.

  9. Stuart
    November 13, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I like to proofread my work before publishing (And You Should Too*)

    • Harry Guinness
      November 18, 2015 at 11:25 am

      I just really wish you'd made a typo in that correction. Leaving out the full stop in a comment maybe!? Yeah I'm gonna run with that!

      Thanks for the heads up though.

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