AT&T and T-Mobile Battle For Early Upgraders

Last week, T-Mobile targeted enthusiasts and early adopters with their Jump plan. The plan was unleashed with the only fanfaire coming from the company’s CEO, who angrily bitched out mobile carriers for their draconian ways. Whatever.

Anyways, the gyst of the plan is that for $10 a month, you can qualify for an early upgrade once every 6-months. Seems like a pretty good deal, except when you realize that T-Mobile doesn’t get a lot of great phones very quickly (it’ll probably take a year and a half before they get the next top-end Lumia, a year for the next iPhone, etc.). Add to that the fact that all their plans are contact free but phones are paid through a 24-month loan, and this sounds more like leasing a phone then getting quick upgrades. When you get your new phone, you have give your old one back.

Now AT&T enters the race. Today they announced their Next plan. For a monthly fee ranging from $15-$50 a month (it depends on the price of the phone), you can upgrade once every 12 months.

Well hey, AT&T gets great phones pretty quickly and great exclusives, including that awesome new Lumia 1020, right? An upgrade every year sounds great, right?

Buyer beware, its not really that good of a deal. On average, paying the Early Termination fee is cheaper. For example, if you bought a Samsung Galaxy S4, you would owe $32 a month on top of your monthly bill in order to have the privilege to pay $200 to buy a Galaxy S5 (or whatever comes out in 12 months). That’s $384 over 12 months, which is about half of the device’s cost. So…basically you’re paying for the last 12 months of your device subsidy.

Or not. The early termination fee for an AT&T smartphone is $325 minus $10 for each month in contract. After 12 months, that’s only $205. So for the most popular Android smartphone, AT&T’s Next plan costs you $180 more than your Early Termination Fee.

Lolz. Nice try AT&T.

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