Today in California, Apple is about to announce its latest smartphone, the iPhone 14. Though all the details of the phone at this stage are still rumours, we know that the cost of these handsets are likely to start at around $799 / £749 and go up over $1000 / £1000 for the flagship models.
That's a big chunk of change for many people and so there have always been ways to pay for the phone gradually. Mobile networks build the cost into their contracts or offer credits to soften the blow, and Apple itself offer financing programmes over 20 months in the UK and 24 months via the Apple Card in the US.
As part of the Apple Event today though, we suspect there will be a new option announced. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple will announce a hardware subscription service. This, rather than being a way to pay off your phone in instalments will be more like renting the handset.
The system sounds like it treats the phone more like a service than a piece of hardware. In the same way that you pay a monthly fee for Netflix or Apple TV+, you would pay a monthly fee for your iPhone. It does mean that you would never actually own the phone at the end of your rental period, as you would a finance plan, but that's probably okay.
Car leasing is a lot like this in reality. If you lease a car you are paying a monthly fee for a set number of months and at the end of it, you can either give the car back or pay a lump sum to keep it. It's not clear whether Apple would offer the chance to buy the phone at the end, but after a two year period, you probably want a new one anyway.
Gurman has suggested that the rental service could be linked to Apple's current service bundles that come under the umbrella of Apple One, which makes a lot of sense. With Apple One currently, you can pay one monthly fee that gives you Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud storage and more. An extended version of this could also include the phone itself.
As to exactly what this would cost, it's very hard to say. My guess though is that – if this is announced – we could see Apple One subscriptions starting at around $34.99 / £34.99 and going up as high as $64.99 / £64.99. This feels like the right ball park for a premium subscription and would certainly cover the cost of the phone and the services.
We'll know more in a few hours.