AT&T Won’t Let You Upgrade To A New iPhone After Twenty Months Anymore

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Two months ago, Verizon announced that it wouldn’t allow customers to upgrade their iPhones early after twenty months anymore. It was a pretty hostile move: the subsidy you’ve paid for your iPhone has been paid off after twenty months, so Verizon was effectively saying that their new policy was to bleed you dry for an additional four months, no exceptions.

When we wrote about Verizon’s move, we said “And what Verizon tends to do, AT&T can usually be expected to follow. How long until AT&T ends 20 month eligibility for early upgrades too?”

The answer, as it turns out, is a little under two months.

Yup, that’s right: AT&T has just stretched out their upgrade period to a full twenty four months.

Say the suits:

Today, we’re announcing a 24-month upgrade policy across all of AT&T’s wireless products and services. This aligns device upgrade eligibility with our standard two-year wireless agreement and it applies to any customer whose agreement expires in March 2014 or later.

So if your iPhone contract expires after March 2014? Except to wait the full length of your two year contract to get a new device, or pay an early termination fee.

I shouldn’t be surprised — American mobile carriers know they have us over a barrel, and a company like AT&T isn’t going to simply watch Verizon give us one without taking a turn themselves — but this is just so hostile towards existing subscribers. That little bit of leeway in upgrading your device cost carriers nothing, and made their customers feel better about their carrier. Now they’re just throwing that good will away.

  • joewaylo

    If they follow the same schedule every 24 months, there’s no worry for Apple iPhone upgraders. 24 months from October will be an iPhone 5S / 6S / 7S / 8S … etc. Though if you’re one of those who says “They’re always sold out the first two months”, you can always grab your ‘S’ devices on Christmas.

  • MarkDavidGerson

    Good will? What good will?

  • FriarNurgle

    Might be worth taking the possible performance drop risk and buy my iPhones outright and try one of those cheap prepaid options.

  • FutureMedia

    Yes they will. You just need to pay the balance of your subsidized iPhone and enter into a new 2 year contract to get the new one at the subsidized price. The early payout is only a few hundred dollars at most which is no big deal.

  • rockarollr

    Why in the world, in a time of heavy competition and several customer options, would a company want to shoot themselves in the foot like this? It just makes no sense. This, for the record, is coming from an AT&T customer of over 5 years.

  • rockarollr

    Yes they will. You just need to pay the balance of your subsidized iPhone and enter into a new 2 year contract to get the new one at the subsidized price. The early payout is only a few hundred dollars at most which is no big deal.

    Only a few hundred dollars? No big deal? I don’t know what alternate reality you happen to be living in, Mr. Moneybags, but a few hundred dollars is a big deal to A LOT of people in the midst of this broken economy right now. For you to imply otherwise is simply smug and, honestly, a bit arrogant. You’re the type of vocal minority that gives Apple, and its customers, a bad name.

  • Gregory Wright

    I don’t see what the big deal is. So wait the additional four months. Be happy the benefit lasted as long as it did. Your phone still works does it not. These companies are looking for any means to increase their income stream. This way is better than a rate increase or lessen the size of the increase.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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