T-Mobile recently announced a new plan called Jump!, which essentially lets you trade in your phone twice a year if you feel like doing so. It’s a fairly bold idea in an industry where phones exist to keep you locked into a contract. And both AT&T and Verizon apparently like the idea of more money, because they’re introducing similar programs.
AT&T has confirmed their plan, AT&T Next, and it’s pretty similar to Jump:
AT&T Next gives customers the option to get a new phone or tablet with no down payment in exchange for an extra charge, equivalent to about five percent of the device’s unsubsidized price, on their monthly bill. After paying this fee for 12 months customers can then trade the phone or tablet in for new hardware, again with no down payment. Keeping the old device is only an option after you’ve made 20 monthly payments or paid for the phone or tablet in full.
Verizon, meanwhile, is offering something slightly different, and certainly interesting.
…Verizon is offering up VZ Edge as a way for customers to avoid signing contracts and upgrade fees, while remaining on the “best network” and with the latest devices. All of the specifics are not yet available, but this slide does mention that if customers are on the previously mentioned monthly payment plan, that they can upgrade to a new device at any time once they have paid off 50% of their current phone.
Or, in other words, once they’ve made a year of payments.
Honestly, this is more a Band-Aid than anything else; AT&T and Verizon have no intention of shifting over to yearly contracts, but customer pressure to upgrade as new smartphones arrive is fairly intense. Not helping matters is that a lot of phones out there are frankly sacrificing long-term durability in favor of factors like thinness or cramming a sharper screen into a smaller space; ask anybody coming up on the end of a two-year plan, their phones are probably starting to show their age.
Still, as weighted towards the profit margins of the manufacturers as these plans are, it is good that consumers are getting options to at least trade up if they want to. And hopefully this leads the way to something along the lines of, say, finally breaking free of contracts for good.