T-Mobile just announced its new JUMP! upgrade plan (no more caps after that, I promise), and it's really, really different. Really, really. As far as I am aware, no other mobile network in the world has a smartphone upgrade plan like this. If you haven't already read about the basics on Jump, let me break it down for you.

Jump allows you to upgrade your T-Mobile smartphone on one of the carrier's new Simple Choice plans every 6 months. The gist is that you pay a $10 fee every month on top of your existing bill (this fee includes phone insurance, which is awesome), and you sign up for this fee when you buy a smartphone on a Simple Choice plan. You pay the normal device upfront cost (a "down payment"), usually between $99 and $150, and the same $20 / month (subject to credit approval) no-interest installments to pay off the phone. Except after 6 months of these payments, T-Mobile will let you get a new phone (again, same down payment and monthly installments), and you trade in your old one. (It's not clear at this point if condition of your trade-in is in any way pertinent to upgrade eligibility.) (Per The Verge - A $20-170 deductible may be charged at trade-in time if your phone is not deemed in good enough condition.)

Think of it like leasing a car. You are, basically, leasing a phone. You can choose to keep it as long as you want, and you're not obligated to ever return it if you don't use a Jump upgrade. You just pay it off like any other T-Mobile phone. Or, you can trade it in after 6 months and get a new one.

Now it's time for math: does this financially make sense? Bear with me here, because the numbers are going to get a little dense.

I want to upgrade my phone every 6 months: do I buy outright, or use Jump?

This is the big idea T-Mobile is selling people with the Jump plan, so let's see just how much you'll save by upgrading with this new system as opposed to buying your phones outright (on T-Mobile).

Scenario: I want to buy two phones a year, on T-Mobile.

If I bought my first phone and second phones on Simple Choice Jump! upgrades?

Monthly service cost (with phone / Jump payments) Hardware cost Annual cost
100 (x12) 100-150 (x2) $1400-1500

This is pretty cheap! Like, actually really cheap. And you get included phone insurance as an added bonus.

If I bought my T-Mobile phones off contract?

Monthly service cost Hardware cost Annual cost
70 (x12) 600-700 (x2) $2040-2240

So, this number is a lot bigger, but there are a couple mitigating factors to consider right off the bat. First, the phones are yours to keep without extra charge, because you paid for them in full. They're also yours to sell. Any reasonably cared for high-end smartphone is going to fetch 40-70% of its retail value on the used market 6 months after being purchased. So, the total can be significantly reduced by selling your old phone yourself. If you were to do this, it would bring down the annual cost to $1620 to $1980.

It is still more expensive than the Jump plan, however. You also don't get that handy included phone insurance, which is super nice to have.

The other potential wrench in the economic works here is Nexus phones. If you're buying a Nexus handset, it's going to change the numbers for hardware cost substantially, and if Google keeps up this whole "really cheap unlocked phone" philosophy on Nexuses in the future, Nexus diehards will get little in the way of savings from Jump.

Scenario: I want to buy one phone a year, on T-Mobile.

If I bought my first phone on T-Mobile and signed up for Jump! upgrades?

Monthly service cost (with phone / Jump payments) Hardware cost Annual cost
100 (x12) 100-150 $1300-1350

As you can see, the Jump upgrade plan very quickly loses value if you don't upgrade twice a year. The difference in cost is so minute that there is no reason not to upgrade twice a year on Jump.

If I bought my T-Mobile phone off contract.

Monthly service cost Hardware cost Annual cost
70 (x12) 600-700 $1440-1540

The outright purchase option is only moderately less economical in this circumstance, and the longer you wait to use your Jump upgrade, the smaller the dollar gap between the two options becomes. And again, if you go for a Nexus phone, outright purchase is actually cheaper once all's said and done.

In fact, a 16GB Nexus 4 purchased from the Play Store with a $10 / month 3rd party insurance plan would only end up costing about $10 more per year than the Jump plan in this scenario. Again, it really doesn't make sense not to maximize your upgrades on Jump, the second handset down payment is negligible next to the total cost of your service annually.

Compared to other carriers?

There's really not even an argument: T-Mobile is cheaper than the other members of the big four in the US. Upgrading your phone on AT&T or Verizon every 6 months with comparable service to T-Mobile's Simple Choice 2GB plan, for example, would probably be around $2000-2500 a year (first phone bought on-contract, and then minus anything you get back from selling your it), compared to $1280-1380 a year on T-Mobile's Jump upgrades with a 2GB plan. I'm not going to do the detailed math because, frankly, it's not worth the effort. We all know the other guys are more expensive in pretty much every sense of the word.

Should I get a Jump plan?

That all depends. First, you need to be willing to live with T-Mobile service, and depending on where you live, that can be easier said than done. If you're already planning on or have purchased a device on down payment with a Simple Choice plan, there is really no reason not to get in on Jump. You get to upgrade your phone more often without worrying about selling your old one (or breaking / losing it), and it's just $120 more a year. If I were a T-Mobile customer planning on sticking around for a while, this would be a very attractive value proposition for me.

If you're a "Nexus only" sort of person, or buy your phones off-contract typically (and not very often), though, the Jump plan makes less sense. That's a pretty small audience, though.

For more about Jump, hit up the official website.

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.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    If I made any mathematical errors, feel free to shame me relentlessly.

    • Casey Kline

      Can we shame you anyways, even if you didn't?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Only a little.

    • jcopernicus

      You forgot the oustanding balance of the phones after the initial down payment.

      Unless you only buy $100 phones.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        No, the oustanding balance goes away when you trade in - that's the point. You still pay the $20/mo extra for the hardware installments, but you do not have to finish paying off each phone you buy. You will always only pay a $20/mo hardware balance, it doesn't stack up each time you upgrade.

        Edit: Ignore me, too, then. :P

      • jcopernicus

        oops, I'm thinking of a family plan at $100. Ignore me

      • sweenish

        You never knew how leasing works.

    • Luis Alfredo Rodriguez Bernal

      If buying phones outright means you pay 70 for the service of 2 phones wouldnt it mean if you subsidize you would pay 70 + 20 month installment x2 + 10 jump plan x2? so wouldnt it be 130 and not 100?

      • Freak4Dell

        $70 is for unlimited everything on one phone. Family plans with 2 lines of service start at $80 for unlimited minutes and texts and 500MB of data.

        • Luis Alfredo Rodriguez Bernal

          Gotcha i got confused there for a sec thinking he was talking about 2 lines but he is talking about 2 jumps for the same line.

    • jb82

      You math is wrong because you fail to appreciate that you'll have 4 paid for phones if bought outright to sell at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months.
      Lets assume I can sell each $600 phone for $400 every 6 months.
      The 2 year cost for this option is $4080
      Less $1600 for the phone sales
      Gives $2480 over 2 years which annualised is $1240.
      This is compared to jump which is $1400.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Again, this is addressed in the article, people are just apparently not actually reading - just glancing at the tables and going "no, that's wrong." Selling used phones is not an exact science. It is possible to come out ahead buying outright and selling used phones. I address this.

        It is UNLIKELY that you will come out ahead, however. Most unlocked high-end Android phones are $650-750, and their residual value is lower after 6 months as a percentage of the MSRP than an iPhone. Therefore, in most cases, you will still come out slightly behind. You also need to consider the value of insurance included in JUMP, which is a very beneficial thing to have.

    • ebt

      Math is wrong.
      Ignore the $70 or whatever talk plan as that is the same for both jump and outright purchase.

      Jump plus paying for the phone costs $30 a month with a $100 down. 6 month cost $280.

      Outright purchase costs say $600 but since I own it I can sell it. So if I sell if for more than $600-$280 = $320 then jump loses. Iphone 5 would be worth say $450 after 6 month so jump is bad.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        I address the issue of selling phones you buy outright. It is *possible* to buy outright and come out ahead, but you are much less likely to. Most phone are also more than $600, excepting the iPhone of course, and most depreciate much more rapidly.

    • xplatform

      The "Annual cost" part of the comparison is completely misleading. in the first example you only "buy" two phones, which you're still making payments on into the third year. In your off contract example, you bought 4 phones and have no payments to make into the 3rd year. Essentially, you simply sell back your phone for residual value, which you could do with the outright as well.

      Its not a BAD way to go. All it means is that T-Mo has entered into the used phone business. expect a Tmo official outlet on ebay or such as cowboom.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Er, no, you don't keep making the payments after the phone is traded in. I'm not sure how you're reading the tables, but it's not correctly. I'm sorry if it's not clear. Nowhere in this example were 4 phones purchased.

        • xplatform

          I wasnt addressing value; I was addressing your numbers. Your comparison rather starkly painted the proposition as "with jump annual cost= $1400-1500, without its $2040-2240."

          I simply pointed out what those numbers actually represented. without jump you own 2 phones at the end of the year. with jump you own nothing, and on the hook for 2 more years of payment (albeit with the right to do it again in 6 months.)


          • CoolCustomer

            When you upgrade through JUMP the remaining payments on the device are waived and you start over again.

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    Pretty cool, much cheaper for people who like their phones subsidized. That said, $30/mo prepaid + Nexus is $660-710/year and that's tough to beat.

    • Justin W

      Agreed. This is the plan I would be on if T-Mo strong HSPA+ coverage in the upper midwest (specifically, South Dakota). Unfortunately, I'm stuck with AT&T or Verizon and their respective MVNO's, so I'm paying about $50 a month for "unlimited" everything through StraightTalk.

    • Erstam

      Agreed. Been doing this for about a year or so now. And insurance for 50 bucks a year if you are so inclined.

  • Stephen

    thank you for this. with verizon if i want 10 gigs of data and a plan by myself it's around 110 a month. theoretically, tmobile could be 80-110 a month, but unlimited data and upgrades whenever and insurance. really makes you think.

    • nukeblitz

      Doesn't T-Mobile have a full unlimited plan for $70 (minutes+data+text)? Plus $20 for the phone and $10 for jump and insurance. That's $100 - still cheaper than Verizon

      • Justin W

        I may be thinking of another carrier, but I believe it's unlimited data, but limited high-speed data.

        • Fozzybare

          the $70 unlimited at tmobile is unlimited. the $30 unlimited is throttled at 5gb

          • Justin W

            That's what it was. Thanks for clarifying :)

      • Stephen

        i was doing approximations but you're correct. still cheaper which is pretty awesome.

  • ingram1225

    now compare the cost with what I believe the average time a consumer would reasonably upgrade their phone: once every 12 months. In this scenario... is it cheaper still with the Jump or with the traditional upgrade program. Keep in mind after 12 months Tmobile starts subsidizing the upgrade cost of a phone.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm really not sure what you mean by the last part.

      • ingram1225

        I've been with tmo for 7 years... I'm on the old plans that are still cheaper. I wouldn't fathom upgrading my phone every 6 months as there is no need for it. The best phones come out once a year for the most part.

        Now charge $5 and give us a chance to upgrade once a year and I'd buy into this.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          Galaxy S in April Note in September/November, always running the latest Samsung. Or iPhone for half the year, flagship Android the other.

  • ScottColbert

    The fact this includes insurance as well, almost makes it a no brainer. Nice to see TMo doing something different...again.

    • PhoenixPath

      No doubt.

      For those not looking to use the upgrades, but who have premium devices, this is actually a cost savings. Their premium insurance is now $11.99 a month.

      When I logged on yesterday and switched to JUMP!, it dropped my bill from $81.99 to $80. Yeah, it s "whopping" $2...but when was the last time a carrier "upgrade" *saved* you money???

  • Mark Curtis

    I'm confused, "just buy Nexus" is $350/$400 a year, where as this is only $120 a year. What am I missing?

    • Erstam

      the down payment of the new phone? 100-200 depending on the phone you get. PLUS you can sell the nexus as it is yours to keep. Plus theres plenty of 3rd party insurance that will get you nexus insurance for 5 dollars a month, which would make it even cheaper for a nexus.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Hardware down payment ($99) plus monthly equipment installments ($20 / mo), on top of the Jump payment ($10 / mo). That adds up to at least $460 a year of what are basically hardware costs.

      • Michael J Carroll

        The Nexus 4 down payment is super cheap right now. Like, $20 cheap and only $17/month service fee ($27 with the Jump included). I feel like that would save you a little bit of money. $364/year in hardware for two phones+$840/year for Individual unlimited=$1204

  • Robert

    The forgotten aspect of all this is just how much money Tmo is able to make off of you. I realize it has its advantages, but the only thing you are paying for is convenience. Once Tmo rolls out it's eip plans to third party retailers like best buy and sam's club, they are going to make a fortune if you are too lazy to sell the phone yourself. They said as much in the q&a today...

    when asked if they thought there was a big enough market for refurbished phones, the ceo responded that they intended to tap into the metropcs customer base who was already paying upfront for a phone and they could offer those phones at a discounted refurb price.

    Not trying to hijcak ap or anything, but back in April, i ran some numbers if you use the insurance rebate offered through sams for $100 with a $50 deductible, and though it doesnt cover lost or stolen, it does cover damaged...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yeah, T-Mobile definitely stands to make money on this scheme, especially because I'm betting they won't be doing much to remind people that their 6 month upgrade has come due. They want people to forget. The less you upgrade, the more unfettered profits you create.

      But for upgrade addicts, it's a pretty great deal, I will say.

      • jeffrey beck

        60 percent of current customers have insurance already, so for most people this is an added benefit at no additional cost.

        • PhoenixPath

          or at a lower cost. Current premium handset protection through T-Mob is $11.99(HTC One, tablets, etc..)...more than the $10 JUMP! fee.

      • Freak4Dell

        Honestly, I can't say that they definitely won't remind people. I signed up for that FamilyWhere thing as a free trial a few weeks ago, and they texted me today reminding me that the free trial was almost over. Most companies would have just stayed quiet hoping I'd forget to cancel. T-Mobile seems to want to be seen as customer friendly, so they may just end up reminding people. Even if they do remind you, they've already recouped around 55% of the phone's cost in that 6 months (and that's assuming they pay the price they write down on the price tag...I'm guessing they don't), so they're not really losing money. Basically, this is a no-risk thing for T-Mobile.

    • solbin

      Its not so much laziness selling the phone myself, it is more of how easy it is to get scammed nowadays. I'm not a big fan of meeting strangers on craigslist and eBay is a toxic wasteland for sellers.

      • Robert

        I live in DFW, but have never had an issue with selling or buyign a phone through craigslist. I've never met anywhere but a store (you have to with vzw), and both me and hte store reps have confirmed the workign condition of the phone. I realize this might be more difficult in less urban areas.

  • mkegreg

    I buy an HTC One $579 , my plan is $30 4G+ to 5GB+ unlimited , unlimited text, 100 minutes per month (go over, it's 10 cents per minute)

    Plan plus JUMP = $40 plus sales tax, no excise tax or any BS taxes x 24 = $960 + going over 100 minutes some months, add $50 = $1589 insured, if I keep the phone for 2 years, that's it. Beat it with a contract, I dare you!

    • jordanjay29

      Why would you add jump if you're keeping the phone for two years?

      • mkegreg

        Same price as insurance, why wouldn't you?

        • smirkis

          my insurance is only 6 bux. but i own my phone, what do i know

    • Justin Dugan

      The $30 plan is a prepaid plan, and therefore not eligible for the phone payment plans. You have to have a post-paid plan to do the payment plan. I know because I just had to switch off of that to buy a phone that way.

  • mkegreg

    The author needs to correct the story, JUMP does include insurance!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Er, I say multiple times that it does?

      • mkegreg

        Sorry, it's confusing under the buying off contract heading, I thought you were referring to with JUMP....you did mention it before.

  • Justin Dugan

    Assuming T-mobile continues to carry Nexus devices, this would be awesome for a Nexus in late fall and a Samsung/HTC flagship in the late spring.

    • PhoenixPath

      Same between the Galaxy S series and the note series. A die-hard Sammy-fan would love this.

  • smirkis

    why will my brain not process the title of this article? "A by the numbers look at T-Mobiles new JUMP Upgrade plan"...... A By the numbers???? A by the numers????

    • Khanh

      a by-the-numbers.. get it yet? it's actually pretty easy to understand

    • Freak4Dell

      Guessing you're not a native English speaker. It's somewhat of a colloquialism used in the US. It makes sense, even if it technically doesn't follow the proper grammar rules.

      • Brad

        It does follow proper grammar rules, actually. In the sentence "by the numbers" is a prepositional phrase that modifies "look". Just sayin'.

        • Kike

          It does follow the rules of grammar, but it would have been more clear if "by the numbers" was in quotations like I just put it, or hyphenated: by-the-numbers; or even italicized to denote it as a "prepositional phrase" adjective. :P

    • GazaIan

      In this title, a = article, "by the numbers" = an adjective in this case, which modifies "look", the noun.

      Replace "by the numbers" with a one word adjective and it will make more sense.

    • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

      You must be a gay fish

    • http://www.vidaperez.com/ Mrs. Late Bloomer

      Yup. If you remove the preposition "by the numbers" it becomes "a look at ..." by the numbers doesn't change the "a look" part. You could say a "close" look, a "hard" look ... etc. Make sense?

  • Chris

    I guess the one thing I would point out is that the only comparison being made is between doing Jump for $10/month versus not doing Jump. If someone is buying a $600-$700 device as the Author points out, chances are that they are going to get insurance on the phone anyway. Insurance by itself is $8/month, which means for just an extra $2/month they are getting insurance PLUS the ability to upgrade anytime they want to after the first six months. I'm not sure about you, but I'd pay an extra $24/year to know that I can go get a new phone whenever something faster and better is released (up to twice every 12 months).

  • Mike

    What always baffles me, how come T-Com is by far the most expensive choice in it's home market (Germany), while it's (among) the cheapest in the US?

    • Dean Politis

      T-Mobile is the AT&T of Germany. Deutsche Telekom was THE phone company in Germany like AT&T was here in the US.

  • jb82

    I'll simplify all this for you. To compare like with like you have to sell the outright bought phone at 6 months without losing more than 6*30 = $180 (the extra cost of the jump plan and paying by instalments). So if you bought one for $600 you have to be able to sell it for $420+ at 6 months to beat this plan. Which is possible but tight.
    If you do it yearly then you have to be able to sell them without losing $360. So a $600 phone needs to be sold after one year for $240 to beat this plan. Quite easy actually if you take something like an iphone. So swapping only once a year is not good value.

    • jb82

      Sorry I forgot the $100 for the jump plan phone down payment. So you'd have to be able to sell your phone after 6 months for $320+ to beat the jump plan which is easy.
      Similarly the yearly option $140+ which is nearly 100% probable.
      So no the jump plan sticks and is just a gimmick.

      • Admir Hodzic

        That's exactly what i was thinking. It's better just to buy the phone outright than sell it and get another one than doing the jump plan. I mean if you get a s4 for 600 I'm pretty sure you will be able to sell it for at least $500 after 6 months. I don't see the savings with this plan. basically you never own your phone you're leasing it and that's stupid to me.

        • Dean Politis

          What planet are you living on that you get $500 for a used $600 phone after 6 months? On Gazelle, a T-Mobile Galaxy S4 in flawless condition gets you $300. On eBay, a Buy It Now T-Mobile Galaxy S4 sells for $435. These are the prices after 2 months. In four months, they will be even less.

        • Kike

          You can keep your old phone. You are not obligated to use JUMP and regardless most people pay around 10$ for insurance on their phones either way so you are paying a wee bit more for a LOT more benefit in case you do want to upgrade. It doesn't have to be at the 6 month mark. You can upgrade at any time "after" the initial 6 months. Imagine you buy a phone and after a couple of months of having it you are convinced that you hate it and you don't like how it feels. You just wait a few months and you have the option of buying a new one and you don't have to pay off the previous one. If you love the phone you have then keep it for 2 years or whatever. And yeah, your 500$ selling bit is way off. A new popular phone (galaxy or iphone) comes out every six months. Definitely not going to be worth 500$.

  • Cherokee4Life

    wait... so I don't get to keep the old phone once i upgrade? well that's stupid. I never trade i'm my phones. I'm a hoarder like that

    • Matthew Fry

      Exactly why this is good for me. I just recently chucked my TMobile HTC iPAQ and my Sprint HTC Vogue the other day. More recently I've been a little better, selling my Epic 4G, my Touch Pro 2, and as an impulse sell, my S3 (after reading this article).

    • PhoenixPath

      I have a drawer filled with old flip phones. My old smart-phones are all alarms or media devices.

      ...I think I have enough of them now. :-P I might be able to start letting them go...

  • Jacob Dominic Loera

    mmmmm trying to see if i want to go nexus once a year route or this.... decisions decisions decisions

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    I have cell phone insurance as a rider on my home insurance. It covers all my computing devices.

    It costs me $30 per year.

    Not saying JUMP isn't a good deal, but depending on other insurance plans you may have, it might not be.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      Which home insurance is this? I might want to see if USAA does this for ours.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

        I've had it with several including Allstate and Liberty Mutual.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

          Thanks! I may want to do that while I finish up my AT&T contract.

  • duplissi

    so this is pretty awesome. I would jump for this if tmobile actually had better than 2g in my area.

  • MyRatePlan

    The new T-Mobile Simple Choice plans and JUMP upgrade program have been very popular with our users thus far. You can compare T-Mobile plans as well as all other cell phone plans here: http://www.myrateplan.com/wireless_plans/filter.php?minutes=0&data=0&message=0&min_price=0&max_price=500&spend=&contract_length%5B%5D=1&carrier%5B%5D=T-Mobile&phone=

  • TSON1

    How do you even add JUMP to your plan on the website?

    EDIT: oh

  • Armus

    My issue with this is the data plan itself. T-Mobile brought back unlimited data and it's a major selling point. They should allow folks to utilize this option on jump

  • SP3CT3R

    Spoke with a t-mobil rep and they stated that it is REQUIRED to jump every 6 months... even if you love your phone you're SOL.

  • Brian Bartley

    Have a family plan, using the T-mobile JUMP! Program actually lowered my bill $20/mo from my previous bill, allowing me to upgrade 4x every two years for a cheaper price than having to have the same phone for 2 years. Pay less and always have the newest phones, thats certainly a deal I will always stick with.


    You forgot to mention that you need to pay half of the device cost in order to be eligible for an upgrade with JUMP.