Pros and Cons of Buying an Apple Watch on A Carrier vs. Unlocked

You’ve decided you want an Apple Watch. You’ve even picked the model you want. But the decision-making process is far from over. One huge thing you need to decide on is whether or not you should buy your Apple Watch from a carrier or should you buy it unlocked or a refurbished one. Traditionally, buying it from a carrier was considered a cost-effective option. But it also came at a cost as you were tied to a carrier contract with no option of backing out. With the introduction of recent initiatives like Apple trade-in, Apple is giving carriers a run for their money. But is it enough? Well, in this article, we will look at the pros and cons of both to determine which is the better option for you. Without further ado, let’s jump in.



Apple Watch prices are basically the same whether you opt to buy it outrightly or from a carrier. They both offer customers the option to purchase their Apple Watch in monthly installments. With Apple, you can spread out the payments over twenty-four months. This is usually covered under Apple Card Monthly Installments, which you must choose as your payment option during checkout to receive a 0% Annual Percentage Rate installment. The installment option for carriers is basically the same. You can purchase your Apple Watch from them over the course of 24 months at no additional charge.

If you’re on a budget then buying a refurbished Apple Watch from this store is a far better option. During these times, not everyone can afford the latest Apple Watch and if you’re on a budget, a refurbished one would be the best thing to happen to you. They offer the same performance but at a cheaper price, so you’re actually paying less for the same performance and quality.

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Who doesn’t love the option of purchasing their Apple Watch for cheaper? And in this case, buying a refurbished one is the better way to go. Apple rarely offers deals on their products as not to devalue their exclusivity. Carriers, on the other hand, do so that they can compete better with each other. However, since you have to sign a contract when you buy your watch from a carrier, you cannot change its value once signed. This means you will be stuck paying a high price even when the market value of the Apple Watch has dropped. If you buy a refurbished one, you’d be saving money by paying less than a brand new one. You can buy a refurbished Apple Watch in a variety of Grades and you aren’t limited to the current year. You can buy the one that fits your budget and needs. It may even come with a warranty and a change of mind policy.



One of the advantages of buying your new one outrightly is the flexibility in the choice of carrier and packages. Buying a device through a carrier typically means that the device is locked and restricted to that carrier. Therefore, it will not work on another network unless the carrier unlocks it themselves. Furthermore, being tied with a contract means that you have few options in terms of the packages. The only way out of this is to pay a termination fee and settle off the remainder of the contract value. When you buy a refurbished one outrightly, though, you take 100% ownership of the watch once you settle the price. Therefore, you have the flexibility to choose a carrier or service package that works best for you. Since refurbished Apple Watches are unlocked, you are not stuck to a single carrier and you don’t have to worry about making monthly payments.

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Trade-ins and upgrades


Before, carriers were the only ones who offered customers the option to trade in their Apple Watches for something better. This usually happened within the first twelve months of ownership and after completing over 50% payment of the previous contract. Recently, however, Apple also introduced a Trade-In/GiveBack program for their smartwatches. If you choose to trade in your old smartwatch, Apple awards you credit in the form of an Apple Store gift card which you can redeem on a future smartwatch purchase. While both Apple and carriers give you the option to trade in your smartwatch, Apple’s program is not the most generous. But if you’re looking for a hassle-free way of trading in your smartwatch, then Apple is the best way to go. Besides, you can redeem your credit for anything else other than a smartwatch if you wish.

Insurance and other costs

Carriers and Apple both offer you ways to protect your smartwatch. With Apple, you would need to purchase AppleCare+, which offers support coverage, up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every two months, battery service coverage and more. In most cases, purchasing insurance is part of the terms of buying on a carrier contract because it’s literally a lease. That means if you want to purchase AppleCare+, you would have to do it separately, which is more money onto the price list. However, carriers may offer you more cost-effective insurance plans. Hence it’s not necessarily a bad option. The biggest advantage that comes with going for AppleCare+ is the peace of mind of knowing that your smartwatch will be tended to by Apple-certified technicians.

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The bottom line is, both buying options have their benefits. It all depends on what you value most. If you are working on a tight budget or do not have the lump sum to make an outright purchase, then buying a refurbished Apple Watch is your best bet. And you would have the freedom to switch carriers without worrying about voiding warranties, terms of use etc. It all comes down to you in the end but if you want to save money then buying a refurbished Apple Watch is your best bet.