Verizon says it’s “breaking the rules” with a new program that will offer up to $1,000 in trade-in credits for anyone who brings in a cracked or water-damaged phone, providing an opportunity to upgrade to the latest iPhone 12 models at a pretty significant discount.
Despite timing that makes it sound suspiciously like an April Fool’s Day prank, Verizon is insisting that it’s no joke, and frankly the long list of terms and conditions suggest that it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that the program happens to start on April 1.
Beginning tomorrow, April 1, and for the first time ever, for new and existing customers: trade in your cracked or water damaged phone and get up to $1,000 off our best 5G phones with a port-in and select Unlimited plans. That means cracked, broken, and even phones that no longer turn on can help make your next device more affordable. Yes, we know it’s April Fools’ Day, but trust us — this offer is #NoJoke.Verizon
While the deal does sound too good to be true on the surface, The Verge notes that there’s quite a laundry list of requirements and caveats in the fine print, and it’s unlikely that Verizon would go to all of this trouble if this really were just an April Fools’ Day marketing stunt.
The Fine Print
Firstly, you’ll need to sign up for one of Verizon’s Unlimited plans with 5G, either by upgrading your existing plan or adding a new line and actually porting a number from another carrier.
Secondly is of course the usual “up to” aspect of the program. While $1,000 sounds like a really sweet deal for a broken phone, your mileage is going to vary greatly depending on the model of the phone being traded-in. Plus, even if you get the most generous offer available, that money isn’t all coming up-front.
Instead, Verizon will give you a $300 e-gift card for an iPhone trade-in, or a $200 card for an Android phone, which could take up to eight weeks to arrive. The remaining trade-in credit will be applied as monthly bill credits over a 24-month period. iPhone trade-ins will get up to $700, or $29.17/month, while Android phones will garner up to $800, or $33.34/month.
Those numbers are only for new lines, however — either entirely new customers or current customers porting in a line from a different network. If you’re simply upgrading your phone and only trading in a broken phone, you’ll be limited to only $440 in savings.
On the upside, there appears to be no limit to how many people on an account can trade in broken phones to take advantage of this deal, but again each person will need to be moving to one of the pricier 5G unlimited plans to qualify.
It’s also a “limited-time offer,” although Verizon hasn’t yet said exactly what that means.
However, the bottom line is that even in the best-case scenario, you won’t be getting $1,000 upfront. Instead, you’ll get about $300 of Verizon credit from the e-gift card, and then benefit from a lower monthly bill going forward. In other words, you’ll still need to pay the normal sticker price for an iPhone 12 or other 5G smartphone upfront, after which you’ll gradually recoup the costs over a two-year period.
Verizon also provided The Verge with some broad examples of which phone models are likely to garner the highest trade-in values, although it declined to get into any specifics.
Naturally, Apple’s latest iPhones are in the “higher value” category, but this actually includes every iPhone released since 2017 — back to the iPhone 8.
The iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7 (and their “Plus” siblings) are in the “lower value” category, although notably the original 2016 iPhone SE isn’t on the list, nor are any older iPhone models.
Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Verizon won’t take these phones, as the list isn’t necessarily definitive, but it’s a safe bet that any trade-in values you’d get for much older iPhones might barely be worth your effort.
Broken Android devices seem to also be divided along similar lines, with phones released in the last three years or so being considered higher value, while older models fall on the other side of the line.