For those of you wondering if, in fact, you can upgrade to the iPhone 6S, there may be hope for you–especially is you are a Verizon customer and moved to their Edge plan last year.
Skipping the launch day crowd, I went to my local Apple store last week to play with the new phone. I figured that I would probably be skipping this year due to both economic or contractual constraints. It turns out that neither were much of a problem.
First, economics: it turns out that if you move to Apple's new financing scheme, all you pay to walk a phone out the door is the first month's payment and tax. For an iPhone 6S with 128GB storage capacity, this came out to be ~$117.
Notice how I mentioned that Apple is providing their own financing phones above? In case you somehow missed it, Apple made an announcement from the stage when they introduced the 6S and 6S+. If you buy a new iPhone from Apple, you can get a financing deal through them pending a credit check. If you're approved, you have a two-year contract with Apple
for anywhere from $32.41/mo – $44.91/mo.
The loan is a 0% APR loan via Citizens One. However, Citizens One will charge your credit card automatically every month, so you can wind up paying interest on your card.
For your money you get a new iPhone with AppleCare+. And you can get the next iPhone when it comes out presumably 12 months later. If you do opt to get a new phone next year, this will extend your contract with Apple by a year. Said differently, you will owe your monthly payment for two years from the last phone you buy from Apple.
Apple has essentially taken the 0% APR loan that carriers have been giving you and are offering it themselves via a third party. So you should see your phone bill decrease by your months "subsidy", but you'll see a corresponding increase on your credit card. In theory, if you have either of the Barclay's cards that have been offered over the years, you will get either 2X or 3X points towards an iTunes or Apple Store gift card, your choice. In practice, I don't think this will be so given that Citizens One will be charging your card and not Apple; check with Barclay's for more details.
I thought I might not be able to upgrade phones since I had a similar finance plan with Verizon. Last year on opening day, I upgraded from the iPhone 5S to the 6. At the same time, I was able to move to Verizon's Edge plan. With this plan, Verizon extended a 0% APR loan. For roughly $40/mo added to my bill, I was able to obtain the iPhone 6, turning in my iPhone 5S to end the previous contract. Additional benefits of the Edge plan was that you pay for the amount of data and minutes you want per month (if, in fact, you can/could get anything less than unlimited talk and text.)
When I was in the Apple Store, I asked one of the blue shirts what it would take to upgrade phones. He told me what it would take to get on Apple's financing and had to look up what Verizon was willing to do. I should note, however, that when the iPhone 6S was announced, both via the website and via the Apple Store app, it appeared that I had to buy the phone unlocked off contract. Technically, that's what I ultimately did–if you look at the receipt, it appears that the entire cost of the unlocked phone plus Apple Care is what you paid for; it's just the financing is different from the model of pay $199-$499 plus a two year carrier contract.
All Verizon wanted was the iPhone 6 back.
What wasn't clearly presented to me was that the iPhone 6 needed to be mailed back; while there was talk of printing a label–something I can't do at home as I haven't owned a printer in a year and haven't had one hooked up for over two–the blue shirt indicated to me that I could walk the phone into a Verizon store. But this turns out not to be the case. It took the black shirts at Verizon several minutes to understand the transaction made at the Apple Store. Finally, they told me I was required to mail the phone back to Verizon, that they could not take the phone there at the store.
I suspect that you should have a similar experience with your carrier–that is, even if you bought the iPhone 6 last year, you should be able to upgrade to the the iPhone 6S and switch to Apple's financing for the "cost" of returning your old handset to your carrier, most likely through a courier service.
Pro Tip: A black shirt at Verizon told me that if you don't turn off Find My iPhone, they will keep the handset and charge your account for the remaining balance on your phone loan. You should, of course, also erase all data from your phone, which is available under General->Reset.