iPhone 3G in the USA: AT&T Upgrade Eligibility Clarified-ish

AT&T customer? iPhone user? Eligible for an upgrade to the brand-spanking new iPhone 3G?

Yeah, we have no idea either, but in an unexpected and appreciated step towards being slightly less confusing than usual, AT&T has gone and created some website goodness to help everyone find out in three easy steps:

  • Login to http://www.attwireless.com/
  • Click on Phone/Device
  • Click on Upgrade iPhone
  • (We'll leave out Step 4, hold your breath and pray the stars are aligned just so... for now).If this works for you, please let us know!(If not, let us know how you're doing saving up for the rumored $600 unsubsidized, non-upgrade price...)Read
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I wasn't aware that I really am eligible, but... it says I am! On both lines, no less. (I know the other line is eligible, but I bought my iPhone in february.)
    Now, I wonder how hard it is to give my partner my iPhone and then buy myself a new iPhone... hmm...
    plus I have to come up with 200 dollars for a new iPhone...
    at least Ann Arbor has good 3G coverage...
  • Interesting now you can not log into your account at all due to "changes"...
    "We're in the midst of making some improvements to My Account, so this area of our site is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and plan to open My Account as quickly as possible."
  • I don't see an option that says
    "Upgrade iPhone"
  • Not that anyone will really heed my saying this... but if you are currently using the first gen iPhone with an At&t iPhone plan, you are automatically eligible.
    The only people in danger of not being eligible are those that are in the middle of an At&t contract with a different phone (any phone that ISN'T an iPhone). In other words, if you currently have an iPhone, relax. If you are a new customer, relax.
  • I don't see anything, just other phones. And I just got a used 2G iphone last week. Oh well. Just curious.
  • New subscribers/porters from other carriers are eligible for the $299 16GB correct?
  • Yes Steven.
  • I do not currently have an iPhone but I get the following message when I check my upgrade status: "This line is eligible for equipment discount pricing when you sign up for a 2-year service agreement. You can also take advantage of our no-commitment pricing option." I already knew this since my current contract is up. I also already knew CURRENT iphone subscribers are eligible to upgrade to the new iPhone at the previously announced $199 & $299 price points (As Tom already said). What is still not known; What price will people who A) aren't eligible for an upgrade will pay? B) What price will people who are eligible for an upgrade but had another phone other than an iPhone will pay?(like me) and C) What is the "no commitment" price?
    Let me know when AT&T has the answers to these questions.
  • I had emailed ATT earlier asking for clarification. I'm 9 months into a 2 year contract currently with a Blackberry. Plan runs $120 per month (thank God for cellular allowances). Response from AT&T for me was "yes, you're eligible for a standard upgrade". Translation - sign your life away on a new 2 year contract, pay us $199/$299 and we'll give you a new 3G iPhone at the subsidized price. So, maybe it's big spender/corporate love or AT&T will whore themselves out to anyone with $300 and who is willing to sign their life away for the next 24 months and sell them a new 3G iPhone. Personally, I don't care. I get what I want and it will be less than last gen's prices for me. So, life is good. Hope this helps others with similar situations.
  • @Wants
    The upgrade eligible price is the same, $199 and $299, regardless of what phone you are upgrading from. Upgrade eligible just means that you qualify for subsidized pricing, and the $199/$299 prices are the subsidized prices.
    Current iPhone users are just placed in a special class and are auto-eligible regardless of how far they are into their contracts.
    There is no traditional "no commitment" price. The "no commitment" price is another term for the retail, or non-subsidized price. The only thing that makes it difference with the iPhone is that you are required to sign a contract regardless of what you pay.
    Example: Let's say I am not upgrade eligible and I walk into At&t and buy an At&t Tilt for the "no commitment" (retail/non-subsidized) price of $550, I can simply take my SIM out of my current phone, toss it in the Tilt and be done. No contract extension, no headache. The only thing I would have to change on my plan is my data package.
    Now, if I go in and buy a 3G iPhone at the non-eligible/unsubsidized price, I am not given the same liberty. Regardless of the fact that I am essentially paying the "no commitment" price, I have to sign a new contract.
    It sucks, and it shouldn't be this way, but it is, and we have the unlockers to thank. Not the jailbreakers, just the people that unlocked for use on another network. This is not an argument or discussion I want to get into with any hothead unlockers though, so I will leave that at that.
    I agree though, it would be nice if they could stop running around their elbow to get to their @$$hole and give us a price already...
  • agree that the term "upgrade" appears that it is being used as spin.. As a current iPhone user, I would expect it to mean that I would get some sort of discount or reward for being a loyal early adopter(ie. A lower price or a trade in credit towards an iPhone 3G)
    I hope I'm wrong, but in this case it appears my "upgrade" means nothing - I'll pay the same $199/299 as a 1st time iPhone buyer.
    By the way- I like the way The iPhone Blog site now fits my iPhone screen - that is an upgrade;)
  • John, when you buy a new phone as part of an equipment upgrade, you get it at the subsidized price if you're eligible. Otherwise, you pay full price. The initial subsidized price is already a discount; you're upgrading for the same discount, instead of having to pay full price.
    It is a silly way to do things, but so far, there doesn't seem to be a big enough business reason for them not to do it.
  • This blog post is a real disappointment to me. I'm looking for some good iPhone sites to visit daily in prep for my new iPhone purchase. Even though I do not own a first generation iPhone I read everything I could on the day the 3G iPhone was announced and gathered from that reading that first gen iPhone owners would be able to walk into any AT&T store and buy the iPhone for $199. And why not? None of them actually paid AT&T for their phone, AT&T had nothing to do with their original purchase. For a blog author to still not get this, and claim that there still is all kinds of confusion about it this late into June is to say that this is not a professional blog and none of the blog posts can be trusted.
    Sorry, you don't make my list.
    Now, if Tom, the poster above has a blog, I'd like to hear about it!
  • I switched my 1st gen GoPhone iPhone to a 2 year plan last week (as per AT&T's instructions to qualify for the $199 or $299 iPhone 3G price). Just checked my upgrade availability online and sure enough it says I'm eligible.
  • Easy now. I appreciate the comment, but this blog is very good at what they do. You can't fault them for not having all the answers because nobody has all the answers on this subject. I was simply interjecting a couple of points that most people miss. This particular article/entry wasn't really about what we know, nor pricing, so much as it was about finding out your upgrade status.
    Thank you for the words though, I honestly do appreciate it. :)
  • Hi all!!!! My credit is totally messed up, though i have a family plan going with my GF, and eligible for an upgrade as of three months ago. ( She is the account head, her credit is awesome) and we share the minutes and unlimited text for only 90 bucks a month. Now my question is this......will i personally be able to get an Iphone (She's going away for 4 months) without her actually going with me to the store? She's added me to the account so that i can freely make any changes i want, therefore i think i'll be fine. But will they ask me for a credit check at the store even though i'm not the head of the account? Anyone knows?
  • There is no credit check if the account is already active. Regardless of the fact that you are added to the account for changes and whatnot, she may need to be present for the upgrade. Your best bet is to call At&t, or have her call, and find out from the horse's mouth. If they tell you that you aren't able to perform the upgrade without her present, she may possibly be able to grant the permission over the phone and have them notate the account as such.
  • This is complete garbabge, Att will not allow me to upgrade to the iPhone becuase I am not eligable unitl August 5th. They are goign to make me wait over 25 days. I really don't like Att right now!
  • I don't currently have an iPhone - but it says, for both Samsungs on our FamilyTalk plan,
    "This line is eligible for equipment discount pricing when you sign up for a 2-year service agreement. You can also take advantage of our no-commitment pricing option. All iPhone purchases require a 2-year service commitment."
    I assume this means we can get the $199 iPhone?
  • Man... I hate AT&T. I signed my contract with a non-iPhone 9 months ago and I am not eligible for an upgrade until March of 2009. What kind of company makes you wait 20 months with the same phone before they "let" you get a phone for a reasonable price? AT&T.
  • "This is complete garbage, Att will not allow me to upgrade to the iPhone becuase I am not eligable unitl August 5th. They are goign to make me wait over 25 days. I really don’t like Att right now!"
    Same thing Dan - I'm eligible Aug 8. Worst part is that any current iphone user can get the upgrade price even if they only bought a month ago. F-ing BS, customer of ATT/Cingular/ATT for 10 years and can't get upgrade price because contract not up for 28 days.
  • I agree with Zook, is there a way to file a valid complain against ATT? They dont really care about existing custumers, they only care about making new custumers, they suck big time.
  • ok so i currently have a first generation iphone but i want the 3g i am not eligible for an upgrade and when i called att they said i could buy it at a price of like 399 but then my contract would b extended for another 2 years.... i heard that att might let ppl buy the i phone without having to extend.... any word on this anyone kno if this is true
  • AT&T is such a scam. I got a new contract with them a month ago through an authorized reseller. They promised I'd be eligible for the upgrade pricing and I didn't doubt them because I brought my own phone, therefore foregoing any subsidy from AT&T. Then, after 4 hours in line at the apple store, my phone rings up at $499. So, I lose my place in line to call AT&T and they tell me they don't have a record of me NOT getting a phone of theirs. And that I'd be eligible for an upgrade in 18 months. Huh?
    That's a pretty piss-poor experience, let me tell you.
  • I can completely relate. Been with ATT for almost 8 years and have only upgraded twice. Once was out of emergency so it is not even considered an upgrade but rather a replacement. Waited in line for almost 4 hours and was not able to get the phone at the subsidized price. No amount of discussion with ATT resolved the issue especially when I had talked to them a week before the 3G released to see if getting the Iphone was a problem. They said you are good to go. Feel really let down by ATT as most of you do. I think the current ATT subsribers have not been treated too kindly with their ridiculous restrictions!
  • I now HATE ATT!!!!! 18 months with them and I can have the PRIVILEGE of paying for and iphone 399.00 while everyone else is paying 199.00???? I onlysigned up for ATT for the iphone new I wanted to wait for the second one now I am beig punished for being a good customer. I also own everything Mac and get no benefit from that either. They both suck and will think thrice for any further payment or either companies for the lack of customer service.
  • Ditto. I can't get a phone at the musch hyped general public's price for 9 months. Even though I would be increasing the cost of my monthly plan by nearly double. Not quite sure how that makes sense. Wouldn't AT&T want more money over the next 9 months? It's bad form enough that I am considering going with another device all-together out of principal.
  • I too am experiencing the same trouble from AT&T. I have been so excited about the release of the new iPhone; read everything I could find on it and made sure I had everything ready to get it, I even had friends that wanted to camp out with me outside the store. On July 9 I decided to call AT&T just to verify everything was in order. That's when they decided to tell me I couldn't have the iPhone at the advertised price because I was still in the middle of my contract. That was so infuriating to hear. I went to the nearest corporate store, took a number, and waited in line to speak to someone. The first guy I spoke to told me to just open another account alongside my current account. Then I get to the store manager and he tells me that his hands are tied but check back everyday as often as possible to see if the rules have "changed". I have been with AT&T for 7 years now and find it quite disturbing that they will let just anyone walk in off the street, pass their credit check, and have the iPhone for the advertised price. Very sneaky of AT&T to leave out that little detail about upgrade eligibility in all those advertisements. I finally gave up calling the store because everytime I push zero to speak to a representative I get hung up on. I certainly do feel as though AT&T has left their existing customers high and dry so to speak, and to think I used to tell everyone I came into contact with how great AT&T is. I feel like such a fool now, thanks AT&T.
  • I guess I am the only one surprised and disappointed in learning that current, good-paying at&t customers are to be penalized, (ineligible for the $199 price), when buying an iPhone. And I guess I was the only person on the planet that did not know that the $199 iPhone was not the price for everyone. I was so surprised yesterday when they told me that I could buy an iPhone, but only for double the cost. It took me a couple hours to stop thinking about why at&t would penalize their good-paying customers. I still don't get it. And it's not exactly that I'm all tied up in a contract because even though I am apparently elibible Oct. 12, the at&t rep at the Apple store told me "Come back in September, maybe then we can make you eligibile". Capitalism. It made me really angry. And I don't understand why I am the only one.
  • I had precisely the same experience -- the wait in line, the bomb dropped about how the phone will be double for me since I'm not eligible for an upgrade, the getting out of line to call AT&T (on a Sunday no less) and a long frustrating, fruitless call to AT&T today where the silly customer service woman apologized in a bored voice and told me that there was zero she could do and I'd have to wait until September 16th to get the iPhone. I too have been a loyal customer for 10+ years and I am outraged that they won't work something out for those of us who have defended their customer serive over the years. It's unreal. Luckily, I am married to a guy who works in the media and we think that maybe what At&T needs is a bit of bad publicity.
  • my contract expired in march or something and i use att. am i "in danger" of paying
    high prices for the iphone 3G?
  • If I bought an iphone 1st generation then switched back to a blackberry pearl and now want an iphone 3G...what will I have to pay? I don't mind signing another two year agreement if that means I will get the price for $199.
  • I'm in the same non-eligible AT&T user boat, only in addition to telling me I can't get the $199 8G iphone, the customer service rep I talked to today said they won't even sell me the iphone at the nonsubsidized price because they're backlogged and "want to be sure eligible users have a chance to buy an iphone first." Because I'm an AT&T customer, I can't buy the thing even at an increased price but anyone who isn't currently with AT&T can get it for $199? I see the business rationale, but it's a crap way to treat existing customers. I'm considering paying the $175 to cancel my existing AT&T contract early, then buying the iphone as a "new" AT&T customer (I'd still pay less than the unsubsidized price). Anyone tried this? Is it possible to keep your number when you do this?
  • @ Fleming...
    Cancelling my current ATT contract and resigning up is a strong consideration for me as well. 8 yr ATT(ATT/Cingular) user as well. And very very disappointed at their customer service.
  • Yea, same thing for me.
    Was told I was eligible for STANDARD upgrade before launch. But "standard" does not mean the iPhone.
    Waited in line.
    Had it in my hand.
    Rung up for double the price.....
    What's worse is that Apple isnt sending any phones to AT&T. So when the date comes for you to upgrade, you have to buy it, AND THEN WAIT ANOTHER F'ing WEEK OR MORE to get the phone.
    The second that AT&T slips and opens up the iPhone or a better phone comes out - I'm leaving.
  • Someone with friends in high places needs to give ATT a reality check. I would shut them down right now if I could, just because they are being like this to people who have been paying them hundreds of dollars a year..
  • I just wanted to show some comradere with you all, I went to the store to upgrade my Razr to the 3G Iphone and got the unpublished news about the $400. I too went through the mental confusion of why a good, long time customer is being screwed over. Most companies bend over backwards to make their good customers happy. Not At&T. I blame Apple for not making the phone available more service neutral.
    I'd like my elected officials to open an anti-trust investigation with cell service providers. These early termination policies should be deleted. We need a more competitive environment.
  • As an AT&T wireless customer, I was told that I was not eligible for an IPHONE upgrade at the $199. price until late next year (I've been a customer for over 10 years - so signing a 2 year commitment isn't an issue for me). If I buy a used, unlocked IPHONE, can I walk into the AT&T store and have my account upgaded and number transferred? Will they do that? Just curious. Thank you!
  • I've been a loyal AT&T customer for 6 years. Same sob story, can't upgrade until June of '09, have to pay $399 if I want an iPhone now. There are rumors that Walmart will sell the iPhone for $199 starting after Christmas. Will the same upgrade crap/ higher price still apply to me or will this be the loophole we've all been looking for???
  • I had the same thing happen to me today as everyone else on here and am furious. Not eligible until March 25th for the subsidized price. Had no idea about this so my rage in the store was full force. I cannot understand how ATT can kick their loyal customers in the face like this? Anyhow, the WalMart phone available on Sunday is only for upgrade eligible customers which leaves me out as well. I am going to Verizon in March-Blackberry Storm, here I come!!
  • I am in ATT Iphone hell. I bought 50 mb on an international plan for my trip to Japan for %59. I followed by webusage on my iphone and went about 2-3 kb over the 50mb limit. I got back a $300 bill which included a prorated fee for the previous month of $40/ the %59 and 13 extra MB that were not registered by the iphone while I was abroad/ and about $30 for 15 unanswered incoming calls. The ATT customer service was stunningly firm that there was no room for error in terms of the bill and no credits were issued. They called apple who claimed not to stand behind the MB usage function on the iphone. Yeahh 51 MB for about $200!!!! Stunning. Will be looking around for another service - I am furious!!
  • Check your contract for your rights of termination for failure of a device to satisfy your requirements. For example, my AT&T Tilt sucks at GPS with Telenav. This is provable at any AT&T store by going outside and starting Telenav, then showing the rep (or manager) that it can't find the signal (this does happen about half the time, and always of course when I need it). Ask for a replacement phone. Now you have an official record of a problem with the phone. When you get the replacement, wait a week or so then report the problem again and demonstrate it (whatever issue you've found... and there are ALWAYS issues you can say are REQUIRED for your satisfaction). Now demand another replacement. Do this one more time, THEN demand to be let out of your contract because you have documented issues where they have not lived up to THEIR end of the contract commitment. Make a lot of noise... but this won't be necessary because then you'll "agree" to re-up for two more years if they'll upgrade your phone. Guess what you'll ask in the upgrade?
  • Let me add this, too. Don't let AT&T's reps bully you. Buried in all their legaleze IS your right to satisfaction of the phone you previously bought (including subsidized) from them. So demonstrate a chronic, repeated problem and have it on record. If you're lucky like I was, it may even go something like this...
    You: I've had it with this phone. The GPS (or whatever) feature has never worked right. You have the history of its failures on my account. I'm invoking the termination clause and, let me tell you, I'm very disappointed in AT&T's service.
    Sales: I fully understand your frustration and I assure you we don't want to lose you as a customer. What do you think of the iPhone?
    Sales: Oh, of course, of course! No, what would you think of $299 for it? Would you be willing to do a contract for two years?
    Here's where all your practice at keeping a straight face while playing Texas Hold'em pays off.
  • Holy shit... I am pissed. I've been an AT&T/Cingular/AT&T customer for eight years and never made a late payment. I'm close to my previous two year contract being up and yet I cannot get a device?
    I may just ditch the iPhone idea and go over to Verizon right now.
  • I have been a Bellsouth/Cingular/ATT customer for 17 years. My wife lost her iPhone. I just want to replace it. 8 days from "eligible." They won't budge. Customer Service tells me that the store manager can override the upgrade eligible feature. He says he can't. Get your story straight. Somebody is off somewhere.
    He offers me a $40 phone that I can return in eight days, less a $20 restocking fee. So I have to spend $20 to save $200. Or wait a week. They are willing to sacrifice a 17 year old account for 8 days. If my wife didn't "Have to have an iPhone," I would be so done with them.
    AT&T will never get my business service. Ever. If you can't take care of a 17 year customer, who will you take care of???
  • I am also annoyed. I have wanted an iPhone for quite some time, but had waited and waited. When I upgraded last spring, I went with the LG Shine, because I was waiting for the 3G iPhone to come out.
    Well, the Shine has been lots of problems. ATT sent me a new one once. I have given up on them sending me another.
    I'm want to upgrade to an iPhone. And not only upgrade my phone, but also upgrade my fiance's phone that is also on my family plan.
    I find out, he can get the iPhone for $199, but I cannot. And he could care less about the iPhone... even though I've been talking it up to him lately and he does seem more interested in it. I'm the one who really wants the phone. But is it worth telling everyone my number is now his and his is now mine?
    I've been a CellOne/Cingular/ATT customer for 11 years, and they are going to make me pay double for an iPhone or wait until August? Even better, I want to buy two. Hmm...think of the sales commission they could get? But no... I refuse to upgrade just one phone. I want to upgrade both together. And after all of this, I think I'll do it on-line (if and when I do) just to keep the people in the store from getting any commission off of me.
  • Umm... AT&T turned down my upgrade from a go phone to an iphone 3G S. Read about it here!
  • Just tried it earlier. I could get the regular iPhone 3G for $317 + $24 data plan. Not too shabby, methinks. I'm most likely going to save up for it and upgrade. I hate my Shine. Wholeheartedly. The stupid text message stopped working on my phone. Then again, it happened to me on T-Mobile too. I get bad luck.
  • so i got my iphone last year druing christmas i believe now i lost my iphone recently and i need another iphone not an upgrade iphone but the same old 3g i always had...what will my cost be...will they charge me 500 dollars? or can i just buy the iphone through apple and just get it activated? help! what is the cheapiest way and fastest!