Two-year contracts are a drag for all sorts of reasons, but AT&T just found a way to make them even more annoying. The carrier has quietly altered its upgrade terms to stipulate that customers have to wait for the full 24 month term to be up before getting subsidized pricing on an upgrade. You can see the before and after versions of Ma Bell's upgrade page below.
It would be one thing if the change only affected new contracts from the effective date of June 9th, but it also pushes back the upgrade date for anyone whose contract ends after March 1, 2014. So if you bought your current device on contract after March 1, 2012, your eligibility date is now 4 months later than it used to be. The new policy also apparently requires that upgrades are within the same "device category" if you are sharing an upgrade with another line on your plan. Check out the internal document below for more confirmation.
This is yet another example of AT&T mirroring the actions of Verizon, which made similar changes back in April. We also told you at the time this was going to happen. Don't worry, though – carriers keep telling us the US wireless industry is highly competitive.