AT&T strikes back with NEXT, accelerated upgrade program that'll let you get a new phone or tablet every year

AT&T strikes back with NEXT, accelerated upgrade program that'll let you get a new phone or tablet every year

AT&T has just gotten into the accelerated upgrade game in a big way with their new Next program. Here's the gist, if you're a new customer or are currently eligible for an upgrade, you can buy a new phone or tablet with no downpayment, but with monthly installments. After 12 months, you can switch to a new phone or tablet, also with no downpayment, and keep on with the installments. Or, you can keep paying down on the original phone or tablet for a total of 20 months and be free and clear. AT&T Mobility president and CEO, Ralph de la Vega said in a prepared statement:

With AT&T Next, customers can get the newest smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. That’s hard to beat, and it’s an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year.”

No word yet on how the math works out for iPhone customers, but AT&T offers the following Android example:

The interest-free monthly device installments range from $15 to $50, depending on the device selected. For example, a customer purchasing a Samsung Galaxy® S 4 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.

We'll have to run the numbers and see what ends up being cheaper, AT&T's new Next deal or the Jump program announced by T-Mobile last week. But in the meantime, check out what AT&T is offering and let me know, if you're an existing customer, will you hop on Next, and if not, is Next enough to make you consider switching?

Source: AT&T

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

AT&T strikes back with NEXT, accelerated upgrade program that'll let you get a new phone or tablet every year


So $640 for a S4? Will be interesting to see what they charge for the iPhone 5S when it comes out. Also, I'm grandfathered in on an unlimited data plan, will I have to give this up to be eligible?

Probably.... AT&T looks for any opportunity to push its unlimited users into a tiered data plan. That's why I switched to Verizon (well, that and AT&T coverage is sh1t where I'm at, and their customer service sucks).

I'm confused. How exactly is $32 a month a "good deal??"

GS4 example:

$32x20 months = $640
$32x12 months = $384, more than the 2 year pricing.

Or pay the $199 up front, whenever you want sell the thing for $350-400 (or even more maybe), use less than that $384 for the next year at $32/month combined with the money you sell it for, and buy the next phone outright. The next year u have 2 year eligibility again and put the extra money from selling the phone away to re-buy the off year. Do this process every year if you want and you come out ahead.

Been doing this with iphones since the 3GS. First was a 2 year pricing, next year the above model, then 2 year pricing comes again, then sell and buy a full price phone, back and forth. Since the iphones retain so much resale, its a minimum investment every year even buying full price- $100-200; less than this $30+ per month. And I have a new phone every year.

This model is too expensive.

Very true. It's not a deal other than to people that don't know better or just don't want to deal with the hassle of selling.

I am sure AT&T will figure out some way to force us into this as a SOP. Let's not forget that the $199 we pay for an iPhone today is a subsidized amount. If I go with this next plan are they going to give me a break on the monthly bill? I guarantee they won't!!! This will be their way of sucking all of the expendable income out of their customer base. T-Mobile didn't do us any favors by strting this.

Agreed. I've been doing the same as you @stulaw11 but when the money isn't an issue anymore, the convenience of trading it in isn't a problem. One bad sell on eBay makes you think twice about going that route again.

Why in the world does one desire a new phone every year nowadays? These phones are so powerful. They will easily last beyond two years. Hell, new mid-range Androids have last years top of the line specs. There just isn't much to differentiate between next month's and last year's phones.

Couldn't have said it better myself. When a person knows what they want, and knows how to use what they have they upgrade when they want to not whenever the seasons change.

Understandable. But this is the iMore site. I really don't think the 5S is going to be as major an upgrade as, the 5 was to the 4S. IJS, the added expense may not quite be worth the added value.

I dont feel like this is a good deal at all. I like T-Mobiles version a lot better. I would rather just pay a small fee and have the ability to upgrade my phone every year with discount pricing versus paying $30 or more (most likely for iphones) per month.

Does jump require that you trade in your phone because if it does not its clearly the better deal.

One of the main reasons I was loyal to Sprint was having a (former) Premeir customer (a status achieved after 10 years of being a member or by being on a certain plan or something like that) status which allowed me to upgrade every year but they ended that program last year so now I've been eyeing other carriers. With this movement by AT&T I expect Sprint and Verizon to follow suit shortly so I'll wait around a bit and see what happens.

Verizon has a leak out there. They will be doing it too. Would be a decent deal IF they reduce the price of the plans. Which I don't see happening.

The carriers always claimed the price included the subsidy. Will they drop prices now?

Sent from the iMore App

I'm not biting on this deal. We have 3 iphones on our family plan (2 with grandfathered unlimited). All I do is i always get the latest phone with whichever line is eligible and then I pass down the previous model to my hubby! He could care less which model he's using.

** Requires 20-month 0% APR installment agreement & qualifying credit. Wireless service req. (voice & data for smartphones/data for tablets). If you cancel wireless service, remaining balance on device becomes due.Sales tax due at sale. Qualifying devices only. Upgrade after 1 yr.: Req. min. 12 installment payments, acct. in good standing, plus trade-in of current device in good & functional condition & purchase of new device/wireless agreement & service plan. After upgrade remaining unbilled installment payments are waived. AT&T Next available only at AT&T owned retail stores & If device is returned, restocking fee up to $35 for smartphones or 10% of tablet sales price may apply. Terms subject to change.

How is this a comparison to T-mobile's Jump in any way?
T-mobile does not require a credit check. Att does.
T-mobile monthly payment $20. Att $30+
T-mobile no contract plans. Att contract plans remain aswell as still paying the premium price because there was no mention of plans being reduced. Also within that premium price includes the tax and extra cost which they use to subsidze the phone.
Tmobile upgrade twice a year. Att once a year.

This look to be swinging in tmobiles favor if the buyer is concerned about price, eligibility, and frequency. If coverage and data consistency are what your looking for then you may have to reconsider.

32 * 12 = 384
384 + 35 = 419 a year and you trade in your phone for new one

199 + 250 = 449 a year and you keep your old phone to sell

449 - 419 = 30 cheaper BUT you loose your phone

I don't see the benefit, based on these numbers on the old you can sell your phone every year for $280 to break even, this would cover the difference, 199 for new phone and 36 for activation

I see no benefit to NEXT.