An alternative to Apple's iPhone Upgrade Programme

Read the full guide below or click "Get Started" to explore Raylo's range of iPhones

The GuardianTechCrunch
Dec 8, 2023
With no upfront fee and no obligation to take out an insurance product, Raylo’s subscription gives you access to the latest iPhones for a lower monthly price than Apple's 'iPhone Upgrade Programme'.
Raylo iPhone 13

Raylo iPhone XR


Always want the latest iPhone, but can't afford to splash loads of cash on the new model? There is a new way to do this that is smarter, more sustainable and better value: welcome to Raylo.

If you currently in the market for a new iPhone, it's likely that you have stumbled across Apple’s  ‘iPhone Upgrade Programme’. This article will explain some of the detail of the iPhone Upgrade Programme, its features and will ultimately why Raylo’s subscription model is a great alternative.


Apple Upgrade Programme – what is it?

This is Apple's answer to those who want to upgrade to a new iPhone every year, but don't want to be tied into network contracts (or pay outright). It's basically the "iPhone as a service" plan: instead of paying the full value up front or monthly payments to own a particular handset after two years, the iPhone Upgrade Program guarantees you a new iPhone every year. Of course, for that privilege, you're paying a far higher monthly fee for the foreseeable future compared to a 24 month upgrade cycle. It was first launched in the UK back in 2016 and allows the cost to be spread on a pay-monthly basis and one upfront fee of £69, with the customer being eligible to upgrade to get the new iPhone model when it's announced each September. It is essentially a finance package operating as a 0% APR loan with Barclays Bank, when you hand back your iPhone at the end of the 12 months, you're effectively settling the overall debt – allowing you to upgrade. You have to pay for a minimum of 20 months before you can own the phone.  The deal includes a mandatory AppleCare+ membership at full cost. You actually cannot join the programme without this.


So like a continuous cycle: you purchase, return, upgrade. 

What's Raylo and how does it work?

With no upfront fee and no obligation to take out an insurance product, Raylo’s subscription gives you access to the latest iPhones for a lower monthly price. The lowest in the UK in fact. This table identifies the price comparison. 

With no upfront fee and no obligation to take out an insurance product, Raylo’s subscription gives you access to the latest iPhones for a lower monthly price than Apple's 'iPhone Upgrade Programme'.


Yes, you have AppleCare+ membership included with the Apple Upgrade Programme but what does that actually get you? It is a fairly limited product, in the sense that AppleCare for iPhone does not cover theft or loss and it limits the number of claims you can make for accidental damage. This leaves quite a gap in terms of phone protection; either you pay for additional insurance or you cough up and cover the cost of the iPhone that has been lost or stolen. You could do so by paying your monthly payment costs and use an old phone until the end of your 20 month period but forfeit your right to upgrade after 12 monthly or buy a replacement all at once.

“But Apple let you upgrade every 12 months”

Don’t be fooled by false consumer habits; users in five European countries tracked by Kantar Worldpanel — France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain — are keeping their phones for even longer. Users in Great Britain logged the longest average of 27.7 months. So it is definitely worth establishing if, in your eyes, those marginal improvements equate to value for money, or whether you would rather save by keeping your monthly costs low. At Raylo the price plan and duration is indicative of sustainability and affordability. 

Accessibility and Customer Ease

Okay great, so you would like the iPhone on a pay monthly, SIM free subscription?

Well, stay put, head over to our product section,  sign up in approximately 5 minutes, and the phone will be with you the next day. All from the comfort of your home or your office. Wherever you are in the UK, you can get your hands on the latest handset with minimum fuss. No added journeys, no playing dodgems with shoppers and no parking costs in the centre of town. At the end of 24 months Raylo makes it as simple as possible for you to upgrade your device; you will have two weeks with both the old and new handset. Once you have transferred the data over you return the old one to us at your convenience within the 14 days.  

Unfortunately; the only way to sign up to the iPhone Upgrade Programme is at an official Apple Store in the UK. This difference is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, there aren’t many Apple Stores in the UK. Second, the Apple Store can be quite a frenzy from the noise to the queue time and thus it can be quite a laborious process. But there is a more important issue regarding the data on your iPhone. Getting your new phone this way means you cannot transfer your data from the old phone in an efficient way. Given how long it takes, having someone hover over you in the Apple Store as this happens, could be uncomfortable and quite possibly unfeasible. So you need to back up your device and you cannot restore it until you have wi-fi, or until you return home. (The former if you backup your device to iCloud; the latter if you do it to your computer.) Moreover the terms and conditions, credit checks and iPhone model all have to be agreed under the watchful eye of a sales representative. This can be quite a big decision and the pressure of in store decision making can be off putting. 


So what to do then? 

It is quite clear that the Apple iPhone Upgrade Programme offers the most regular renewal option, with a new iPhone being available after 12 payments  and if you are in the minority who love to upgrade every 12 months and don't care what it costs, this seems like the fitting choice. However, this post illustrated the savings, more inclusive insurance, ease and customer experience advantages that Raylo has to offer. Hopefully you can now make an educated decision on how next to upgrade your iPhone.