AT&T announces AT&T Next, early upgrade program to match T-Mobile Jump and VZ Edge

If the smartphone industry was Oregon Trail, you could only explain the pace of innovation as “grueling”. That’s great for consumers, except when you’re required to sign a 2-year contract. Maybe you’ve got the latest and greatest smartphone when you sign up, but by the time your contract is up, you’re sure to be well behind the times.

Earlier this month T-Mobile turned this challenge into an opportunity by announcing T-Mobile Jump, an early upgrade program, and Verizon is rumored to have a solution of their own (VZ Edge) on the way. Today, AT&T entered the fold by announcing AT&T Next, an early upgrade program that will allow customers to upgrade once per year without the dramatic costs of buying a phone outright.

AT&T Next Early Upgrade Plan Details

AT&T Next Early Upgrade Plan Details

Starting July 26th, AT&T customers will be able to get a brand new tablet or smartphone with, “no down payment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.” Of course, you’ll want to read the fine print.

The concept is simple: when you buy a phone, you agree to pay a monthly installment instead of a flat fee. After making 12 monthly installment payments (in addition to your wireless bill) you’re able to trade your new phone in and obtain a brand new phone, again, with no down payment.

Here’s how it would work in practice with the Samsung Galaxy S4:

[The customer would] have no down payment and pay $32 per month, in addition to the monthly wireless service plan they choose, with the option to trade in their device and upgrade after 12 payments or to keep using the device and pay off the installment plan in full after 20 months. There’s no penalty for paying off the installment plan early.

This is great for consumers, offering more flexibility to obtain the latest and greatest tech hardware. It also encourages people to trade their phones in rather than leaving them to collect dust in a desk drawer. I love how T-Mobile brought this to market and the other carriers felt compelled, or even forced/pressured, to match their offering.

This is a prime example of why healthy competition is a beautiful thing. Companies are challenged to continually develop and offer the best products and services and consumers are rewarded.

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