TL/DR: You can choose to use the Upgrade Programme again (but wait) or buy your next device online at launch (but get a less convenient next upgrade).

There are far more important things happening in the world right now, but I was disappointed to get an email from Apple saying that the Upgrade Programme wouldn’t be available for iPhone 12 Pro Max (and iPhone Mini) pre-orders on launch day.

There was confusion over options for people - like me - who already had handsets on Upgrade Programme and also wanted to upgrade in November, so I spoke to Apple and these are the choices:

  1. Use Upgrade Programme again: It’s (still) only available in-store so you’ll have to visit when they re-open. Assuming the UK’s national lock-down ends as planned, this would be 3rd December earliest with - presumably - some backorder delay for popular configs.

  2. Leave Upgrade Programme with your current device: Pay-off the outstanding finance direct to Barclays (equal to 7 monthly payments for me as I’ve made 13 of the 20 for my 2019 device). You then own the handset outright and can sell it or trade-in on Apple’s web store. You may need to contact AppleCare to notify them that the finance has been settled to trade-in otherwise the serial number will be rejected.

  3. Leave Upgrade Programme by returning your current device: From 16th November Apple Stores will be operating a drop-off facility to return Upgrade Programme devices (they’ll operate other ‘contactless’ services from stores throughout lockdown, but this Upgrade Programme drop-off will only be start on the 16th). This will end the agreement and settle the finance, similar to doing it in-store as before but without the option to immediately upgrade. Until all the details are announced I am assuming Apple won’t refund any ‘excess’ value from the device - they wouldn’t if you upgrade.

If you leave the Upgrade Programme to secure a device on launch day Apple now offer 0% interest financing over 24 months on handsets, but without the convenience of being able to settle the finance by returning the device at the next upgrade.