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Verizon Responds to Sprint, T-Mobile by Letting iPhone Owners Upgrade Annually

The move is costlier than lease options from the smaller carriers, but if customers make all 24 payments, they own their device outright.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Responding to moves from competitors, Verizon is announcing later on Thursday a program that will let iPhone customers upgrade to a new phone every year if they have paid off half of their device’s cost and turn in their old device.

Those who purchase an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus and choose to pay for their phone in installments will get the new option automatically, including those who preordered their device. Customers are still financing the full purchase cost of their device over 24 months, but Verizon says this has advantages over cheaper lease-only plans from T-Mobile and Sprint.

“If you’re not interested in upgrading, you still have the option to pay your phone off in 24 low monthly payments,” Verizon said in a statement. “That’s a better option than those ‘lease plans’ offered by other companies, which can include surprise balloon payments just 18 months into your agreement, or ask you to turn over your phone without getting anything for it.”

For those who have a current iPhone, Verizon’s new program doesn’t apply, but customers can get up to a $400 trade-in credit toward the down payment on a new device.

T-Mobile and Sprint are offering options as low as $1 or $5 per month for those willing to lease a new iPhone 6s and trade in an iPhone 6.

Meanwhile, Verizon is also responding to the price wars by touting the strength of its coverage.

“There’s having an iPhone 6s,” the company said in a tweet. “Then there’s having it on the best network.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.