AT&T not allowing upgrade prices for early iPhone 4 adopters?

As of right now, it appears as though AT&T will not be honoring upgrade prices for the iPhone 4S to early iPhone 4 adopters. In the past, early adopters have been able to purchase the new iPhone at the upgrade price even though their account wasn't technically available for an upgrade yet.

I purchased the iPhone 4 on the day of release, but when checking my availability for the iPhone 4S from Apple's website, I'm presented with the following prices:

Before November 25, 2011:

  • iPhone 4S: 16GB - $449
  • iPhone 4S: 32 GB - $549
  • iPhone 4S: 64GB - $649
  • iPhone 4: 8GB - $349
  • iPhone 3GS: 8GB - $199

The prices listed for after November 25 are the same prices that Apple announced earlier today: $199, $299, $399, $99, and $0.

If history repeats itself, AT&T will come to their senses and move the upgrade dates to October 14. This is normal behavior for them: send customers into a panic, then change their minds at the last minute. However, there is still the possibility of them sticking to their guns and not budging with their prices.

If AT&T sticks with these prices, will you still be lining up to essentially pay a $250 fee to purchase the iPhone 4S 42 days sooner?

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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AT&T not allowing upgrade prices for early iPhone 4 adopters?

125 Comments

I bought my iPhone4 on the first day as well, and my upgrade date is Feb 26th! Might threaten them with killing contract and jumping to Verizon.

Anyone know if Verizon can do voice & data at the same time yet? I have not kept track, nor do I know if that dual antenna thing announced today helps.

Threatening with contract termination will likely have no effect. I worked AT&T customer care for 1.5 years. During my time there anyone adjusting anything to discount an iPhone would be fired and escorted from the building. This included waiving the upgrade fee, something we could do with other phones under certain circumstances. You may get a deal on another phone, but they won't budge on the iPhone.

What does your comment even have to do with his? Did you read it? The upgrade fee has nothing to do with "discount an iPhone".

Mine account shows the same thing except my upgrade prices are after November 30th. I guess it makes sense since I bought my iPhone 4 probably a week after the launch.

It's not about that because I bought mine later than you. Some other comments have mentioned being the primary or your overall charges.

Mine says Nov 19 for some reason. Purchased iphone 4 on the first day.
Agree, AT&T should give us the same consideration when it was 12 months in. Why not now at 16?

Exactly. I thought you are entitled to 1 upgrade every year (12 months)?! Now I can't get an iPhone 4S the day it comes out, over a year later? You suck ATT. I've been with you since iPhone 1.

If the iPhone 4S is available unlocked at launch... that is how I will buy it so I don't really care about early upgrade prices. I wouldn't be buying it from AT&T anyway. I want it unlocked.

You are missing the point. It is cheaper to terminate and start a new contract with Verizon than buy it at that price.

I got mine launch day, and my upgrade date was 11/18/2011, until a few days ago when it changed to 02/28/2012!!! I called and emailed AT&T, because I had an email where they said my upgrade date was 11/18 (I was asking them to move it to mid-October).

Doesn't matter to me. I'm not spending full upgrade price on a half-baked upgraded phone anyway. I'll wait for iPhone 5 TYVM!

So if it had just been the same phone inside a different case you'd have jumped at it? I too was disappointed, but honestly the specs would have been the specs either way.
Granted I'm not in the camp that needs 4"+ to see my phone... I'd rather have the superior smaller display and not have to look like a major tool with a bag phone in my pocket. (but thats just me, I can see why some might want the larger real-estate)

I wouldn't have jumped at it even if it was the same specs in a slicker form factor. It's simply not enough to warrant the full upgrade price. If Steve was here, he'd say that this is most definitely a D+ upgrade. .....Oh who am I kidding. He'd spin it in a positive light.
I do agree with you on screen size. Despite what Ron Jeremy told all the Fandroids, size does not matter. Give me a crisp clean display any day of the week.

I know people who have Evos.....the screens look washed out and less vibrant. So keep your head in the sand. It doesn't matter to me.

If Steve was here? You know he's been out barely a month right? And that this has been planned for a year? There's no way that this whole thing didn't go exactly as he planned, especially considering he's still running the company from the board, if not "officially" as CEO.

Most of the people who are upset/disappointed about the 4S were looking forward to a bigger screen, not the casing/design.

agreed exact same product they showed today with a 4 inch screen would have been better. Not great, special or innovated but better. i also don't think it helps that every phone carrier has now done away with yearly upgrades because not if you buy you're stuck with it. Even if they launch an 4 inch iphone 5 lte version next june. You can't get it without forking over you're first born. And i'm not the type that just buys phones. i've only had one smartphone ever. and three mobile phones ever.

My upgrade is on Nov 17th. For the Iphone. I was disappointed in the 4S not having a bigger screen, so I picked up a Samsung galaxy SII.They let me have it at the upgrade price even though I still had a month and some change left...

I don't think you Americans understand how lucky you are. In Canada we are stuck on 3 year contracts, no early upgrade fees of any kind, only 100$ credits towards a new phone after 2 years, and carriers that change your "upgrade" date at their convenience.

Also on AT&T will deff be switching to sprint if they do not offer the lower upgrade price ( received iPhone 4 on release date) idiots! now that the phone is a true world phone on more carriers you would think they would want to make existing customers HAPPY

I got my iPhone 4 on release and the Apple site shows I'm eligible for a upgrade to the 4S at the normal discounted price on launch. My wife isn't eligible for upgrade pricing until Feb 16th and she got hers on release as well. My line is the primary line on the account, hers is a secondary.
Screenshot or it never happened: http://yfrog.com/nzrol7p

same here. i was told its because im not the primary line on the account (im on a family plan). at least someone else on the plan is due for an upgrade :)

Totally bogus by ATT. My wife and I both have an iPhone 4 on a family plan. We were both out of contract when we upgraded and I ordered BOTH phones on launch day. My upgrade is Feb 25, my wife is March 4. I was not actually planning on upgrading either way, but what a cluster#### by ATT.

BS reply from ATT. I have two iphone 4 on a family plan (one is the primary), both ordered on launch day and neither line is eligible before Feb 25.

I called *639# to check my eligibility with ATT .... I got the 3GS on launch. Early upgrade for 4.... Says I'm good to go Oct 14 for the 4S.... I have 4 lines and pay over $200 a month for service. ATT has told me in the past because of how much I spend I'm good for an upgrade yearly.

Can anyone tell me what the $250 price is for in this message?? Does this mean I have to pay $250 just to buy the phone at $399 (iphone 4S, 64GB) or is this the price I pay for the phone as an upgrade or what??
"A full discount on a standard device or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 11/25/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at 2-yr commitment pricing $250 along with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer."

you only have to wait a month more and with the way it usually is you might not be able to get one till a few weeks after its release date
my upgrade is Jan '12, 18 months after my contract started

I've been eligible for an upgrade all year it seems even after buying an iphone 4 on launch day. Oh well, i'll take it. Other lines say feb 2012 though.

How did you check the upgrade prices. When I visit the AT&T site, they still only show me the old iPhone 4 pricing.

Bought the iPhone 4 on launch date and fully eligible for the discounted prices. There are enough changes to get me to buy the 4S keep me happy until the 5 comes out.

Not to be a troll, but I pre-ordered my iphone 4, and got it day 1. I am also eligible for an early upgrade on the iPhone 4S ($199, $299, $399), so this DOESN'T apply to everyone...

Same here. I got mine on launch day and have been eligible for an upgrade for a while. My family plan's monthly bill is $200+. It might be based on that.

It is definitely based on monthly bill price as I got my iPhone 4 on the 1st day but pay much less a month and I am not eligible until 11/18/2011.

My family bill is almost $300 AND I am out of contract with a 3GS yet they won't give me anything but full price $449. I guess ATT is confused about how much money I can save by switching carriers. I have been a customer for 10 years so none of their pricing makes any sense at all.
Only other thing I can think is those on the old unlimited plan are the ones not being offered early upgrades. ATT would do anything to get rid of those.

If you only have to pay $449 then you are lucky. I have to buy it Unlocked ($649) if I want it because apparently I'm not due for an upgrade until June 2012.

@beefalo -- So tell us the magic you worked? Do you have unlimited data, text, and minutes? Did you called AT&T to even ask a question about anything since 6/24/2010?

ive had unlimited everything for at&t with family pack since iphone 3 came out and they arent allowing me to do an early upgrade either =/

Same here. And I have the unlimited data plan, so that doesn't appear to be a factor. I am on a family plan, and my wife and I purchased the 3G about a month before the 3GS came out (we had no idea, not being smart phone users at the time, that the new phone was coming out). When iPhone 4 came out, I was eligible for the upgrade but my wife was not. Since we bought our phones at the same time, we just figured the primary account holder was the only one eligible for early upgrades. Now we are both eligible for the 4S, even though I got the iPhone 4 as an early upgrade. So... I dunno.

I got my iphone 4 the day it came out and that was the first time I purchased a phone under contract since 2008 when I got a sony ericsson. Now why is it that my upgrade isn't until Feb29 2012?? I hate ATT. I'm under a family plan and my mom has been a customer since 2003. Why in the world do I have to pay 440 and can't upgrade like you all can in November? I don't get it. Were probably going to move all four of our lines to Verizon where it's cheaper for the family. Att will lose a lot of customers over this.

November is one month after the launch of this phone, AT&T would be stupid to hold out for a month and lose customers who want this phone immediately. As stated in other posts, it would be cheaper to cancel your contract with AT&T and switch to Verizon OR Sprint ($79 unlimited everything plan!!). I'd like to keep AT&T so I hope they bend the rules once again for their largest group of customers.

One thing to remember is upgrade eligibility depends on how much you pay per month. If it is over $100, then you can upgrade each year.

I pay over $100, and have the tethering plan, but am not eligible until December. I bought the iPhone 4 3 weeks after launch.

Consider yourself lucky - I bought mine on launch day and I don't get the upgrade pricing until February.

I wish I knew. If all else fails I'll have to order it on another line we have and then stop by AT&T to have the sim card transferred to my line. I intend to contact AT&T though and see if they'll just give me the upgrade price on my line instead.

Got my 4 on first day and just checked via Apple site and it says I'm eligible for upgrade pricing.

So what's the issue? When your contract is up get it then. Or switch carriers. Or pay the ETF & switch carriers. In the end you get a new phone no matter what path you take.

VZW is giving you the off contract pricing. AT&T is still giving you discount - just not the full discount you would get for renewing.

So, if those are off contract prices, will the phone still be locked to Verizon or would I be able to use it with any carrier?

AT&T can make a brilliant move or a dumb move right now. The iPhone 4S is also a CDMA phone, which means if they force users to wait out their contracts, they could very well lose customers to Sprint, Verizon or another network. Many users have complained about AT&T's coverage in some areas. Now, other options are available. Since the all iPhone 4 contracts will start expiring on Nov 25th, all a current customer has to do is wait 40 days and switch to another network without any fees. If AT&T is smart, they'll offer the low upgrade price to any current AT&T customer irregardless of their original purchase date. This will lock in current customers for another 2 years, thus trapping a lot of customers that may otherwise jump ship. I'd be shocked if AT&T forces people to run their contracts out before upgrading at the low cost. That'd be like something the government would do.

I'm eligible, my wife is not. We both bought our iPhone 4's on "opening day" - but I was an AT&T customer prior to that (we moved her over from Sprint). Maybe that's why?

I just stopped by my local AT&T Store to get a new SIM card for my 3GS since my iPhone 4 died the other day, and the salesman there and also the manager at a different AT&T store I visited yesterday BOTH told me I qualified for the lowest tier pricing, or in other words, it appears I am fully eligible for the early upgrade price, and not the prices you outlined above.
They also told me that from now on, however, ALL iPhone contracts have been extended to 20 months and they both also stated that apparently the iPhone plans will no longer be eligible for early upgrade terms in the future.

There might be a little entitlement on our part, but looking at it through a business standpoint, you can reel in people who's contracts may be over in a few months and tie them down to another 2 years by offering them a chance to get the iphone 4s sooner than later. If u give costumers a chance to think about the fact that they may not need the iphone 4s then they may not renew their contract when it comes time and greater the chance for them to leave and now choose from 2 other phone companies that may end up cheaper for them. So if ATT is clever they will allow customers to upgrade in turn renew their contracts sooner. If they don't then that's on them and they risk the possibility of losing customers. And not for nothing but u tell me if you like to be told what to do with your phone.

yeah i got the verizon iphone on day one. since i'm on a family contract, i can take everyone elses upgrades. we're eligable for an upgrade now, but i think i wanna wait for the five to come out

Leanna,
Same thing happened last year. The Apple site shows the wrong prices. Check the AT&T website to see if you are eligible.

Love Apple products (have 6 ios devices in my house) but AT&T is really starting to get on my last nerves. Funck them if they don't alow the early upgrade. I'll wait 6 months or better yet give Sprint a try.

No upgrade for me until 11/25. I'll just play around with iOS 5, iCloud and iTunes Match until then.

I don't see where you are getting the november 25, 2011 date. I bought my iPhone 4 day it came out as well and can not upgrade till February 25, 2012...

I also have 11/25 as my upgrade date and I also got the ip4 on launch day... It's only a month so i'll wait it out

If you have a family plan, you could just add an extra phone onto your plan for $10 a month and let someone else use it (or charge them $5 a month and have it subsidize your plan). I think I might do this if they don't open it up...

I was an early adopter of the iPhone 4. I preordered it and I am eligible for an upgrade at the subsidized pricing. Not sure what your issue is.

Leanna, those ARE discounted prices. They may not be new contract prices, but they are discounted by $200.

As far as I'm concerned, AT&T can take a leap. I'm going back to Sprint for their unlimited plan at a much better price than AT&T or Verzion will ever offer.

Maybe they're counting on the fact that people can't really be such sheep that they'll pay termination fees to go buy it somewhere else a few days earlier. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, they may be wrong.

Bought iPhone 4 on launch day and my fully subsidized upgrade date is November 21. I will wait until then for my 4S unless AT&T changes the date. If it was more than 3 months, I'd pay the extra to get the 4S on launch. The iPhone is really the only big indulgence I allow myself, so when I have to pay a little extra I'm not too bothered.

If you go to the apple store online you can check your eligibility there, I did and it states that I can get the 16g for 199 and so on...

Sprint is also in the picture now, so AT&T is not the only player and also Sprint has unlimited data and messaging...may be enough to pull some away. Also the pricing for plans is cheaper for families. Not sure what the coverage is like....but AT&T, with the setting the stage for allowing early upgrades, may want to do so again. It's $250 more, by the losses can be thousands of dollars when people leave. I see it both ways, but am looking at it from a customer service perspective.

I was getting the same message about bring eligible after 11/25/2011. Now it has since change me being eligible right now!

I am buying unlocked this time. I know it costs a lot more, but I am sick and tired of worrying about my baseband everytime I update the os, jailbreak, etc.

I got my iPhone 4 as a pre-order that was shipped to me from AT&T on the 1st day they were out for $299, and they say I'm not eligible for an upgrade until Feb 24, 2012. My wife got her iPhone 4 on the same day but at an Apple Store, and she's eligible for an upgrade now.
Makes no sense to me, since she didn't get her first 3GS until Feb 24, 2010, and I got my 1st 3GS in June 2009 (and then my iPhone 4 just 12 months later at the full discount).

That's a bummer! I bought my iPhone 4 in mid August and it says that I am totally eligible for upgrade. I wonder if the plan I started 5 years ago had anything about 1 year upgrades in it cause it's always been that way for me, regardless of apple's special promotions.

my upgrade is nov 19, i called last week to see if my upgrade date could be pushed back, and they said call and ask for a manager after release details are announced. so i called this morning (oct 5) at 8 am est, and while the cust serv rep said they will prob not do it, but she would transfer me to a manager anyway. the manager got on and told me that it was up to upper management and she just needed to put in a request which would most likley go through. she said it is supposed to take 72 hrs but most of the time its approved in a few hours. im waiting on her to call me back with the response from upper management. fingers crossed. heres hoping. :)

The same thing happened to me but I haven't got a call back yet. I think everyone should call and complain.
If you have any Q's/concerns, please contact me (Maegen Walker) or my manager Becky Wilbur @: 405-286-7201, or carefollowup@att.com

AT&T should be ashamed of themselves. Their upgrade policy should balance time served under an existing contract AND past customer loyalty. In my case, I have purchased each and every one of the previous 4 iphone models from ATT on launch day, and my monthly payments are always on time with autopay. ATT needs to give reliable, loyal customers a lot of love, not a lot of grief. AT&T is nothing more than a bunch of mindless corporate flunkeys following rules rather than following reason.

I bought the iPhone 4 at release and I just checked my availability and it gave me apples announced prices...would it be because I have a Premier account?

My wife and I both got an iPhone 4 at preorder. Both of us are eligible to upgrade with a new contract. Weird that our dates got bumped up.

I checked yesterday and say this myself. This worries me because does that mean that when the iPhone 6 comes out next June (hopefully) that they wont do early upgrades. This isnt wise on their part because like Dan below said tight now it would cost thesame for people to just terminate their contracts and switch to Verizon. And I honestly might consider doing that. give me a reason to stick around AT&T

I checked yesterday and saw this myself. This worries me because does that mean that when the iPhone 6 comes out next June (hopefully) that they wont do early upgrades. This isnt wise on their part because like Dan below said tight now it would cost thesame for people to just terminate their contracts and switch to Verizon. And I honestly might consider doing that. give me a reason to stick around AT&T

I checked on my phone by calling *639# and I am eligible for an upgrade. I also checked the ATT site https://www.att.com/phoneupgrade/? and I am eligible for an upgrade. I have bought all the iPhones on the day they came out since 2007. Where did you go to find this info?

I called AT&T, they won't budge on the upgrade. They said they are following 'apple mandates' and don't want to upset apple. I brought up the fact that this happened previously, like when everyone started hating on AT&T on twitter and she said that would likely have to happen again to get the upgrade moved. So, I say we all get the interwebs in a hizzy and see if we can get our upgrade early again.
I got the 4 on day 1 and it says I have to wait until 11/18. even threatened to switch to sprint. No go.

The website still hasnt been updated, but if you send *639# on your AT&T iPhone it will tell your real eligibility status. I bought my iphone 4 first day as well and I go the "As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-year contract and an 18$ upgrade fee). Which means I'm good to go. I called At&t to confirm and she said I'm eligible. So don't believe the website.

Entitlement? AT&T allowed early upgrades as long as you're an iphone user purchasing a new iphone. That was their idea, and it's been like that for the past 4 years. Now they change it and screw everyone that has been loyal to them, and you say that's a sense of entitlement?

Is there any update on this Leanna? Do you expect that AT&T will do a last minute change like before? There's only 13 hours left before ordering starts.

Ok, Here is a fix..it worked for me. Kind of dishonest, but here you go. Every year my wife and I order the iphone and get it on launch day. This year for whatever reason, my line is not eligibile for upgrade until February, while hers (The main line) is eligible for upgrade immediately. I spent about 2 hours each day last week from tuesday-thursday trying to get someone at At&t Customer service to change it.
Well, then I got a bright idea. At&t says you can check your upgrade status by pushing *639# from your iphone then hitting call. As soon as you get a message that reads, "Thank you, your request is being processed. A message will be sent to your phone." Take a screen shot, push the top power button and home button at the same time. This will save that photo to your camera roll. Then you'll get a text from 108 (which is at&t). It'll say your not eligibile for a full iphone upgrade at this time, however they can offer you one at either for retail or at $449.
Type this message into the response to that
As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.
You will get a response on another message saying invalid number. Delete that.
So when you go to your text messages, you should have a message from 108 that says
As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.
Next I would call customer service and explain the message. Offer to email them the message (I wouldnt email that one as it will show you sent it) I would do some photoshopping of the photo before you send it to them. Anyhow just see if they think if you go into an AT&T store to verify the message that they will give make your line eligible to upgrade at the $199 price.
Next go to the At&t store, try and get someone young and cool to view and document the message on your At&t account. Once they do, come back later and ask to pre order the iphone 4s. Tell them someone at AT&T documented your account of your message you received from ATT and that you need to get your upgrade over road at the store per Att Business Relations.This worked for me..please report your results on this message board. I was able to pre order my iphone on friday morning (I was the first person in the At&t store, they didnt even check my phone for the message again.
(The beauty of this all is, when you call into customer support, they can actually check and see if att sent you a message at the time that you claim, it will show they did, but they cant view what it says, so your story is alot more plausable).
Another option is to have someone you know who is eligibile for the upgrade sent the *639# request to att at the same time as you. When they get their message that shows they are available for an upgrade, have them text it to you, and save the screenshot on your phone to show att.
Your last option is to pay either the early upgrade fee of $250 or pay full retail. Either of which I could of done, I just think that for my wife's line to be upgradeable and mine to not be was unfair. We both got our phones on the same day. I know we were both under the same contract on the same account, but I'm supprised it is not discrimmatory to allow some to upgrade and not others.

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