Whether or not you want to partake in T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" experiments, they're obviously having an effect on the wider American carrier landscape. Today AT&T announced plans to counter T-Mobile's JUMP! upgrade/trade-in plan with one of their own, called Next. The Next plan will allow similar installment payments on new phones with no money down, and users will be given the option to trade in their existing phone and begin paying off a new one. The program will begin on July 26th, and it will be open to new and existing customers.

There are some stark differences between the T-Mobile and AT&T plans: first of all, the upgrade option for the larger carrier is a full year, as opposed to six months with T-Mobile. AT&T's installment payments will vary based on the total price of the device without a down payment, as opposed to the down payment and $10 monthly fee plus device fee on T-Mobile's JUMP! plan. As an example, the press release gives the rate for the Galaxy S4 as $32 a month for 20 months with no down payment (equal to its current $640 unsubsidized price) with the option to trade it in for a newer model after a full year. Keep in mind, that's in addition to an AT&T service plan, which tends to be considerably more expensive than T-Mobile. Next will be available for tablets as well, and the more conventional subsidized 2-year plans will still be available. Cancelling the plan early will still put you on the hook for the remaining hardware balance, and AT&T's plan does not include insurance.

anything you can do

Anything you can do, I can do better. In a year.

Other carriers aren't standing around and letting T-Mo steal their thunder. Earlier today leaked documents strongly suggested that Verizon is planning its own competitor to JUMP!, tentatively slated for a third quarter launch. That's three of the "big four" US carriers, with Sprint being the odd man out of the shortened upgrade game. In any case, it's nice to see more carriers expanding their options, even if it's more about flexibility than actual savings - all of them still have users essentially leasing phones. While you're waiting for AT&T's Next plans to become available, check out David Ruddock's cost comparison between T-Mobile's JUMP! plans and more typical plans.

Update: AT&T reached out to us to clarify: there are in fact no contracts and no activation fees with Next. This matches T-Mobile's JUMP!, and "bring your own device" or an outright purchase is still an option for the regular plans.

Dallas, Texas, July 16, 2013

Today, AT&T* introduces what’s next in wireless. Beginning nationwide on July 26, consumers can get a new AT&T smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment, no activation fee, no upgrade fee and no financing fees.**

With AT&T Next, customers purchase a smartphone or tablet with no down payment and agree to pay monthly installments for the device. After 12 payments, they can trade it in and upgrade to a brand new device — again with no down payment — or they can keep using their device and have no more payments after 20 months. AT&T Next is available for new AT&T customers or existing customers who are upgrade eligible.   

AT&T Next is available for any current smartphone or tablet in AT&T’s industry-leading selection of devices. The interest-free monthly device installments range from $15 to $50, depending on the device selected. For example, a customer purchasing a Samsung Galaxy® S 4 would have no down payment and pay $32 per month, in addition to the monthly wireless service plan they choose, with the option to trade in their device and upgrade after 12 payments or to keep using the device and pay off the installment plan in full after 20 months. There’s no penalty for paying off the installment plan early.

AT&T offers a broad choice of device purchasing options. In addition to AT&T Next, customers continue to have their choice of all current options, including getting a discounted device with a two-year service commitment; paying full retail price for a device with no-commitment; getting a partial discount for an early upgrade after six months with a two-year service commitment; or bringing their own compatible device.

More information is available at www.att.com/next or at any AT&T retail store.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Justin W

    I didn't expect this so soon after Vz's Edge leaked.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      They had this planned for a week or so now, before T-Mobile's event and VZW leaks.

    • Richard Yarrell

      At&t and Verizon equally are extremely overrated and useless. Tmobile is definitely pacing the carrier industry rather you like it or not. Tmobile is definitely the place to be

      • Nick Schiwy

        I debate that, at least you can use any phone you want on AT&T. However, I would be at T-Mobile already if it weren't for the fact that I would only get Edge coverage in my hometown. (Not to be confused with VZW's goofy upgrade program)

      • Justin W

        If they had better coverage (and by that I mean coverage in my area at all), I'd be on their network. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with Vzw and AT&T at the moment, but I feel as if T-Mo is going to be rolling out their network quite a bit over the next couple of years and I hope they cover my area.

  • Joseph Cascio

    As an current AT&T customer, stay away at all cost.

  • QwietStorm

    T-Mobile is looking like a straight up trailblazer right now. Funny thing is, the other guys doing it their way are still stuck in their ways.

  • Cody Shiranai

    So, what will be Sprint's answer now that they have all that nice SoftBank money.

    • Scott Standish-Parkin

      My sentiments exactly

      • Scott Standish-Parkin

        More accurately...

  • Cory Wilson

    If they are still going to charge the same monthly fees and not offer lower no contract plans than this is a rip off. At&t plans are considerably higher than Tmobiles, and the reason is because subsidized phones are tied into their pricing regardless of whether your under contract or not. So of they aren't lowering their plans to match the "monthly installments" then your double paying for your phone. Overall it's crappy, they take away early upgrades and sell them back to you. You know what I want at&t? A discount, not a money making gimmick. And I own my own phone, Nexus 4, so I wanna pay just for service, not for a subsidized phone I don't have. I'm under contract with until march or 2014 for a terrible htc vivid I got, after that I'm planning on leaving if I don't get a discount for not signing a new contract, as I plan to just stick with nexus devices and shouldn't have to pay more to subsidize everyone else's phones!

    • robnelle

      This! A thousand times This! You are double paying for the phone!

    • tbealmear

      I couldn't have said this any better myself. I am already pissed that they force us to pay for a phone if 1) we are past the 2 year contact period or 2) we have bought our phone elsewhere at full cost. This whole Next gimmick is just icing on the cake for what has pretty much been a "how bad can we make people hate us" campaign that they seem to be running forever.

      • Cory Wilson

        Yeah I know as a nexus owner it does irritate me that my bill won't go down in march. I'm leaving for Tmobile then which actually has better coverage than at&t in my area, going to save me like $50 a month. I'm really happy with my Nexus 4 too, I figure I'll keep it until it needs replaced and is out of warranty and then upgrade to whatever nexus device is out then and just keep repeating this pattern forever

    • Nick Schiwy

      Maybe you would prefer their GoPhone smartphone plans which start at $25/month. (Not that I would recommend that one). I agree with you completely that it would be a complete rip off to take advantage of "Next" if you're paying of the regular contracted plans but if you're paying for a monthly pre-paid SIM, you don't have to worry about it at all. I just wonder if they will let people on pre-paid plans sign up for the "next" program. http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/prepaidplans.html

      • jeffrey beck

        Never. Not going to happen because a credit check is required.

        • Nick Schiwy

          I don't follow. You mean a credit check is required for the "next" program and not for gophone and that's why it wouldn't happen?

    • jeffrey beck

      Time to try Tmobile

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  • solbin

    Give me unlimited data AT&T and Verizon, then we will talk.

  • Tom Alday

    If Tmobile didn't have the worst coverage of any carrier ever I would ditch ATT so quick.

    • ProductFRED

      It's getting better. At least you can say that. They roll out LTE to major cities/congested areas first; you can't fault them for that.

  • Raymond Hawkins

    The problem is that they're not saying anything about reducing their plan costs. Plans already have cost built into them for covering new phones, so this is basically just a way to sneakily raise their prices even more! Might get get phones more often, but this is a horrible rip-off.

    • Cory Wilson

      Yeah that's exactly what they are doing. It not like Tmobiles Jump plan at all. It works on tmobile because tmobile doesn't have subsidized phone costs built into their service plans anymore, you pay only for service if you choose to use jump the $10 charge and monthly installments are added to your bill. At&ts upgrade plan you are going to be paying already what Tmobiles service plus jump costs and then have additional monthly installments! It's lunacy!

  • jeffhesser

    Unintended perk - With all 3 major carriers buying back smartphones every 6 months - 1 year, I can't help but think there is going to be some crazy good deals on used smartphones in the near future. I'm sure the providers think they will be able to sell these phones and pocket the profits but I'd bet good money that after sitting on those phones for a few months with no luck they will panic and fire sale those bad boys!

    • Nick Schiwy

      Or they may just do what they've always done and re-issue them as "refurbished" devices when people need to cash in on their warranty or insurance claims

  • ProductFRED

    AT&T and Verizon corroborate on too many things. Their pricing. Their mobile share plans. Their bootlegged JUMP programs. It's annoying how they manage to get away with it too.

  • gtg465x

    So let's do some math...

    The current / old way:

    A $650 phone costs you $200 subsidized with a two year contract. You keep it for 12 months, sell it for at least $200 on Craigslist or Ebay, and then buy another $650 phone at full price off contract.

    In 24 months, you have spent a net total of $650 and own the second phone you purchased. Or, you can sell the second phone for $200 and only be out a net total of $450 for phones over two years.

    The new way:

    A $650 phone costs you nothing up front, but you pay $32.50 per month for it. After 12 months, you have paid $390. You trade in that phone for another and continue paying $32.50 per month.

    In 24 months, you have spent a net total of $780 and you still owe $260 more if you want to own the second phone you purchased.

    So, thanks AT&T. You've found a way to trick people into paying almost twice as much for phones.

    To look at it another way. You can fully own two phones for $850, to sell or do with as you wish, or, with this new program, you can essentially rent, not own, those same two phones for $780.