Gadgets & apps

This article was published on March 25, 2022

Apple’s planning to lease you iPhones — and I have questions

Can I just rent it for a week?


Apple’s planning to lease you iPhones — and I have questions
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

It’s no secret Apple continually ships boatloads of iPhones every year; it sold 239 million units in 2021, according to analysts. But the company feels it can sell even more — and it apparently has a new idea to do that.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Cupertino-based company is working on a new subscription plan to sell you iPhones and other hardware products.

While finer details are yet to be finalized, the gist is Apple wants you to lease an iPhone or an iPad the same way you buy a subscription for its digital services through iCloud. As someone who’s been following the company for a good while, this move is rather puzzling to me.

Can I change my iPhone every time there's a new gorgeous color?
Can I change my iPhone every time there’s a new gorgeous color?

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If you live in the US, the company already sells iPhones through carriers where you have to pay a monthly subscription fee for the device. Plus, there’s the Apple Upgrade Plan, which includes AppleCare+ and the option to upgrade your device once you’ve paid for 12 months.

But this new subscription plan will supposedly let you lease a device without any lock-ins. And you’ll get access to Apple’s premium services such as Apple One — which offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, Fitness+, and iCloud storage — along with the AppleCare protection plan.

All of this sounds too good to be true. There are a lot of unknowns at play. Would Apple lend me devices like a $5,999 Mac Pro, AirPods, or accessories like those $699 wheels for my shiny new desktop? Can I just use a device for one month and return it? Will there be a trial period like Apple’s other services? Can I own the device after paying X months of rent?

Will Apple let me rent a Mac Pro?
Let me rent a Mac Pro, Apple.

Apple will have to work out all these questions and logistics of how they’d deliver and collect devices. For a company of this size, figuring out the nitty-gritty of this plan shouldn’t be very hard.

There’s a possibility that all this is part of Apple’s financing ambitions like the rumored “buy now, pay later” program. Earlier this week, it also acquired UK-based fintech startup Credit Kudos which uses AI to calculate credit scores in an innovative way. This could be handy when trying to identify eligible customers for its subscription program.

In the end, it’ll boil down to whether Apple can make it appealing enough for people to choose this subscription plan over existing options.

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