Verizon Said to Revamp Free IPhone Deal After Apple’s Complaint

Verizon Communications Inc. revamped an advertisement touting free new iPhones after a complaint from Apple Inc., according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The original created the perception that Verizon would be giving away free iPhones in exchange for used models, when in fact the company was offering subscribers on new contracts a $200 gift card that could cover the upfront cost of an iPhone 6. Verizon is now promoting a “Trade In & Trade Up” smartphone sale on its website, offering $100 to $300 for used devices.

Verizon published the earlier deal on its website on Sept. 9 -- shortly after Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 -- then removed the promotion on Sept. 10 after the iPhone maker protested, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The suggestion that customers could get a new device without paying anything ran counter to Apple’s strategy of targeting the high end of the market and selling products at a premium.

Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The new ad lists a larger potential money-back value -- still in the form of a gift card -- for smartphone trade-ins, helping Verizon keep up with a similar offer from AT&T Inc.

Carrier Deals

Carriers typically offer deals when a new iPhone comes out, hoping to capitalize on sales of the device to lure more data-hungry smartphone users and bolster their market share as growth in wireless customers slows.

Verizon is offering the 16-gigabyte iPhone 6 for $199.99 with a two-year contract. A search of Verizon’s website shows that a used iPhone 4s with 16 gigabytes of data in good working condition can be exchanged for a $100 gift card, while an iPhone 5s with the same amount of data is worth $300 in good condition.

AT&T said earlier this week it will let customers trade in their old iPhone for a new iPhone 6 and up to a $300 credit.

Sprint Corp. is offering the “iPhone for Life” plan, which for $70 a month lets users rent the iPhone 6 and upgrade to a new version every two years, while T-Mobile US Inc. says it will top the best trade-in price with an added $50.

The new iPhone 6 and larger iPhone 6 Plus go on sale Sept. 19 and are available for pre-order starting today.

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