Both AT&T and Verizon are offering absolutely stellar iPhone 13 deals as part of this new Apple devices launch this week. In fact, it's possible to actually snag a free iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13 Pro at either carrier.
As you'd expect, there are quite a few hoops to jump through with both carriers, however, and it's well worth reading the fine print before you commit to such pricey devices (and plans). We've put these two giants side to side in this feature to determine which is the best value - both as a new customer and as an upgrader.
Firstly, let's take a look at these two carrier's headline promotions to see deal eligibility and how they shape up on paper. After that, we'll do a deep dive and compare each one in more detail - as well as give our overall verdict.
Two very good iPhone 13 deals to pre-order
Apple iPhone 13: save up to $800 with a trade-in, plus $500 with switch at Verizon
Verizon's introductory iPhone 13 deals are offering a massive saving of up to $800 with a trade-in for both new and existing customers. If that wasn't all, the carrier is also offering an additional $500 for new customers who port in their number from another carrier. See these same deals on the iPhone 13 Mini here. You can save up to $1,000 with a trade on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple iPhone 13: save up to $800 with a trade-in and new plan at AT&T
AT&T's iPhone deals are offering trade-in rebates of up to $800 on the standard 13 and $700 on the 13 Mini - both enough to cover the cost of these devices. Also available at AT&T is a $200 off discount on a new Apple Watch Series 7 when you purchase two devices. See these same deals on the iPhone 13 mini here. You can save up to $1,000 with a trade on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Which carrier has the best saving?
So first up, Verizon does indeed have the bigger maximum saving out of the two thanks to the additional $500 it gifts new customers. To be eligible for this special saving, you'll have to be porting your number over from another major carrier so bear that in mind.
AT&T has no bonuses specifically for new customers, although if you do switch over, you'll automatically be eligible for the maximum $800 saving ($1,000 on the Pro) since you'll be signing up to a new 36-month plan. Again, that's with a trade-in, so whichever carrier you go with, you'll be looking at handing over that old phone either way.
Which has carrier has the cheapest upgrade?
Both of the above iPhone 13 deals are eligible for existing customers, not just those brand new ones that the carriers love to prioritize for their promotions. However, it's worth noting that both AT&T and Verizon operate their upgrade programs in slightly different ways.
Verizon has the more straightforward policy of the two. To upgrade a line, you'll generally need to have paid off 50% of your device's value (basically a year's worth of installments). That means if you bought that iPhone 12 at launch last year, you'd be coming up to eligibility right now, although you'll want to log in to your Verizon account to check exact details.
AT&T has what's called its 'Next-Up' program - it's essentially an opt-in service for $5 a month that will also allow you to upgrade a line after 50% of your device payments. As you'd imagine, there's a couple of caveats here, namely the fact it costs extra and you can't opt-in after you've already been on a plan for 14 days or more. If you didn't opt into 'Next-Up' on your previous device, then you'll have to wait until you've paid your device off in full.
Overall value? Verizon... for now
For ease of upgrade and overall value, we've got to hand the iPhone 13 deals crown to Verizon - for now at least. This is just the initial pre-order phase of promotions, so it's likely AT&T will have further promotions down the line, potentially over Black Friday in November. Again, your mileage may also vary in regards to coverage and upgrades, but Verizon's one-two combination of a trade-in and switching bonus edges it ahead of AT&T for us at the moment.
Any other iPhone 13 deals to check out?
Apple iPhone 13: save up to $790 with an eligible trade-in at Apple
Yep! We'd also strongly recommend checking out the official Apple sites trade-in program - especially if you're on the hunt for unlocked iPhone 13 deals. The current maximum rebate is $790 on all devices, so you're looking at a free 13 mini or a heavily discounted iPhone 13 here. Carrier devices are also available, but we'd probably advocate doing an upgrade via the actual carrier sites for best value overall.
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Alex is deals editor at TechRadar. With over three years of experience on-site and eight years working in e-commerce, Alex has made it his personal mission to share all his favorite tips, bargains, and deals with our readers here at TechRadar. At work, he specializes in computing, phones, and covering huge sales events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Outside of work, you'll find him indulging his keen love of photography and PC gaming, or down at the local climbing gym hanging off boulders far too difficult for his abilities. His editorial bylines also include contributions to T3 and GamesRadar.