Last Updated: April 4th, 2011

Update: BGR just confirmed with AT&T that the early upgrade price bump listed for iPhones applies to all smartphones - that means early upgrade pricing for 2-year agreement customers will go up by 50 bucks on all Android phones.

Well, there's not a lot of ways to spin this positively, and it's pretty clear what's going on - AT&T is disincentivizing its 1-year and no contract plans in order to goad customers into making more economical 2-year agreements. Customer retention method much?

If you want to go month to month (no contract) on AT&T, the full retail price of your smartphone of choice will shoot up by $50, for no apparent reason other than to discourage you from making that decision. Signing up on a 1-year contract will inflate the price of any smartphone you purchase by $150, and that's in addition to the current markup already in place on 1-year agreements.

iPhone early upgrade pricing was also increased, but the screenshot from AndroidCentral makes no mention of early upgrade fee hikes for other devices, so perhaps that policy will remain unchanged for the moment. Regardless, this is a rather disappointing move by AT&T.



David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Scott Beamer

    I didn't know they HAD 1-year contracts. The certainly don't advertise them.....

  • John

    Wow instead of making any effort with better offers than their competition, they are just pushing away would be customers.
    Thank goodness I left them last year for sprint and evo 4G.

    • easyeasy

      Get used to it, it is only going to get worse. They didn't get the nickname "Deathstar" for nothing.

  • jayc

    Evil company. I hope something happens and they don't buy T-Mobile. But if they do sprint should see a healthy hike in their business. I know I'll be there the first day

  • Eric

    Good old ATT. No one understands Customer No-Service better than them. Guess I"ll be switching to Sprint when they take over TMo since Verizon nickel & dimes everyone too.


    It's probably to make up for the 39 billion they'll be forking out soon, and for all the people who got their awesome plans from them that they offered when The V's got the iPhone. I know I saved about $75 per month on my family plan when they gave out the free thousand roll over minutes, and then topped that off with free mobile to mobile to ANY carrier. Now I only get charged for land line calls. Most of my calls are to other cells so I'm golden.

  • JustSayNo

    There really needs to be an organized effort to object to AT&T's buyout of T-mobile.

    If everyone who made some "dude, AT&T sucks" comment on a blog wrote a letter to the FCC, we'd have a million objections to this deal.

    Seriously, why isn't there some kind of coordination among blogs & techies to be loud as hell in objecting to this?

  • Raptor007

    So this is what AT&T meant when they said buying T-Mobile was good for the consumer and competition. We screw you on pricing and force you to pay more to be on a shorter contract. What next 3 year minimum contracts like Canada.

    I say Americans should learn to pay retail and give the bird to the carriers. It would certainly make people think about the phones they buy and they should pay LESS for them over the 1 or 2 year window.

  • John Rogers

    I am writing to try to expose an unethical practice by AT&T Wireless. For the past 4 years, I have been a customer of AT&T Wireless until just recently. The reason I switched is because out of 4 lines on a family share plan (2 of which are smartphones we own outright - and not subsidized) we were spending $183 monthly on our wireless bill. This amount was for voice and text service on all 4 lines plus mobile data on 2 of the lines which were smartphones. To save my family some money, I elected to discontinue the text messaging service and data on our account (a difference of $80) and our final monthly amount would have been around $100 monthly, which is a number we felt was acceptable and viable for our family. For our data needs, we elected to use the WiFi function on our smartphones (which we paid more than $500 outright for) in liu of AT&T's expensive mobile data plans.

    After dealing with 5 AT&T reps, we were sternly told that AT&T's new "policy" was that ALL smartphones were now required to have a mobile data plan and could no longer opt out. They told me our only option was to put our SIM cards into a "dumb phone" to escape the data tariffs. I don't find this an acceptable or ethical practice, especially since we use these devices on WiFi and are happy with that, with the added fact that they also function as media players for us when we go to the gym (like iPods). We've invested a lot of money on these devices which we worked very hard for and are now being told essentially that we don't have the right to own them in order to escape these "mandatory fees", which clearly are technically not required.

    Further more, AT&T now performs an extortion practice whereby they scan their network for the IMEI (a phone's unique identifier) to detect if you are using a smartphone, so even if you "downgrade" to a dumbphone, remove the data tariff, then insert a SIM back into a smartphone (which you own outright) their system identifies the change and AUTOMATICALLY adds, without your permission, the mandatory data tariff - even if you disable it on your phone and use WiFi instead! The equivalent analogy to apply here is a cable company detecting that you are using an HD TV and automatically upgrading you to a mandatory HD Cable package - why should they? They certainly aren't allowed to do this, so why is AT&T & Verizon allowed to? This should be illegal practice and the consumer should have the right to opt out of data if they own a smartphone outright and without carrier subsidy!

    As a result of this issue, I went to a T-mobile store and brought my family share plan to them - porting all 4 lines over and because T-mobile does not require us to buy a data plan, we happily use these devices on their network and pay only for the services we desire (voice and text). Since our smartphone handsets are GSM, we are able to make this move easily by just inserting the new T-mobile SIM cards into our existing devices. Since we are bringing our own equipment, we also receive a $10/month discount on the family service plan which effectively services all 4 lines at a $103/month savings. We now pay $80/month for the services we want and are happy T-mobile exists to be able to do this for us.

    When you buy an expensive device, like a smartphone, you should not be told you are not allowed to use it as a result of opting out of a data plan. This story badly needs to be broken and put in the public spotlight. Our "smartphones" are more than just smartphones, they also perform many other essential functions: music player, personal calendar/assistant, pocket computer, and even on some models, an FM radio.

    If the merger goes through, we are sure that we will once again be subject to the extorted fees the new firm will likely implement under the control of AT&T. A good reason to write the FCC, FTC, and SEC about stopping this merger. If you use a GSM phone, you owe it to yourself to get your pens moving! You can send email to the key places and people here:


    Also a CLASS ACTION SUIT needs to be organized for people like me WHO *DO* buy their phones unsubsidized (no contract) and own their phones outright! This needs to be fought on multiple fronts - I sent my letters today - did you?

    • Chris

      Its been known for years you needed a data plan with at&t just because you failed to read all the terms isnt at&t's fault it is yours. Also yes you own the phone but at&t owns the voice services and that so yes you bought it outright but you are still on their network. smh

      • John Rogers

        So if your cable company decided that everyone with a TV larger than 32" should be automatically upgraded to a more expensive cable package you'd be all for it then right? That's about as dumb as holding your hand in a fire. Really stupid. You forget that these wireless companies are just LEASING (by way of licensure) PUBLIC RADIO SPECTRUM and they do NOT OWN it - they are just allowed to USE it in the operation of their network. I agree that if you subsidize a phone and buy it at the promotional rate, you should be required to pay for a required set of features to recoup the cost of the phone. But if you bring your own phone to the table and without contract - you should enjoy the privilege of selecting only the services you desire. People like you are what make these companies get away with their anticompetitive practices & why this country is in a really sad state of affairs.

        • Vinni S

          couldnt agree more with you john. this is outright crazy. im with t mo, if the merger goes thru im jumping ship. i've had att before and hated them. they just want your money and thats it. let chris go back to the death star where he is happy to give them his money for nothing.

  • annoynamous


  • p51d007

    I'm no contract, still on my "old" unlimited data plan, 900 min/month because I bought an unlocked phone direct from the manufacturer. It can go on at&t, t-mobile, sprint or Verizon because it has both the tdma/cdma radios. Won't do 4G though.
    You want choice in phones, you're going to have to pay for it, because I believe the USA has the worst line up of phones, because 99.9% of people take the carrier offered, locked, stripped phones.

  • Thorn

    My understanding is that ATT has not bothered to upgrade their infrastructure.

    Which is probably why the move to buy Tmobile.

    Failure to invest in your media transportation, when you are a media transporter can quickly lead to major losses.

    That and if you keep putting ridiculous phone "plans" out like this.

    If your near the Mississippi area...use Cell South. Plans are usually better and they make a good effort on customer service. Coverage is solid.