So AT&T's Next plans, with their $0 down and phone trade-in/upgrade after a year, are nifty for customers who always want the latest and greatest. They're also a valuable tool for enticing new customers away from the likes of Verizon and the ever-advancing T-Mobile. But what about AT&T customers who are stuck in a contract? Ma Bell hasn't forgotten about you: starting today, at least some AT&T contract customers can switch to a Next plan with no penalty.

The only conditions are that you must be a contracted customer in good standing, and you must be at least six months into a contract. If you meet those qualifications, you can start a Next plan today - no early termination fee, no upgrade fee, just a tax payment when you get your new phone and the usual interest-free surcharge on your monthly bill. (If you recently started a contract, you'll be eligible for this deal once you reach the 6-month mark.) For Next, the cost of the unsubsidized phone is spread out over 20 months. Customers are eligible to trade in a Next phone and begin paying for a new one after a year. AT&T is encouraging switchers to jump on their new Mobile Share Value Plans, which will offset some or all of the staggered monthly charge.

It's basically the corporate equivalent of this:

Like every other major mobile service provider, AT&T is looking for ways to retain its current customers and lure in new ones. The promise of new hardware could easily be seen as a hedge against T-Mobile's new offer to pay off early termination fees from other carriers. See the intro to the press release below - "Loyalty pays with AT&T," in case you didn't get the message. And once a customer has committed to the new Next plan, one year until a new phone seems a lot more palatable than two. Sprint is trying new tricks as well (see the "Framily" plan with its possibility for lower rates), while Verizon... well, Verizon just keeps on doin' its thing.

Loyalty pays with AT&T.* Available now, existing customers on 2-year service agreements** can upgrade to the hottest new smartphone for $0 down with AT&T Next. At the same time, they can move to our new Mobile Share Value plans and start realizing significant monthly rate plan savings, featuring unlimited voice and text, and the ability to add smartphone lines to a data plan for $25 more per line per month, all while enjoying the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network***

AT&T customers on a two-year agreement as of January 18, 2014 are eligible to upgrade to AT&T NextSM six months into their contract. To check their eligibility, customers can dial *NEW# and begin to take advantage of this early upgrade opportunity in AT&T retail stores, and online at www.att.com.

“We want our customers to have the best smartphones, on a high quality, blazing fast and reliable network, all at a great value,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility.  “It’s a win-win – customers get the latest devices with $0 down on the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network with significant savings on their monthly bill when they sign-up for our Mobile Share Value plans.”

* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

** For existing consumer and select small business customers currently on a 2-year agreement.  All customers on a 2-year agreement as of January 18, 2014 will be eligible to upgrade once they have completed their first 6 months of service. Customers who sign up for a 2-year agreement after January 19, 2014 will benefit from new, shorter upgrade timeframe of 20 months. Individual account details vary. Customers can check eligibility by dialing *NEW#.

*** Savings compares Mobile Share Value plan w/ smartphone w/ no annual contract (or on an AT&T Nextsminstallment agmt) to one on a 2-yr agmt.  Additional monthly charge per additional device, AT&T Next installmentsm charges, & for additional data. Other fees & restrictions apply. Plans w/ smartphone start at $45/mo. w. 300 MB data. Subject to change.  Reliability claim based on data transfer completion rates on nationwide 4G LTE networks.  4G LTE not available everywhere.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    dat Lilo & Stitch referrence

    • Josh Coppinger

      To which are you refrencing?

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Uh, the one that's in the video clip from the cartoon in the middle of the article?

        • Josh Coppinger

          Oh haha didn't watch the video >>

  • Ehoolie

    Let the games begin

  • Zak Taccardi

    What a deal! Sign up for AT&T Next, and pay twice for your phone!

  • computerwolf

    Does this mean that if I have a 2 year agreement but don't need a new phone yet, I can simply switch to AT&T Next and just lower my payment by $15?

    • eric

      no you cannot. i just spent 30 minutes chatting with a rep and its not possible to switch an old phone to next. you have to get a new one.

      • Techs

        I just switched to FamilyShare and saved $70/mo with two lines. Planning to use Next for the next upgrade but basically it seems like they've let me drop the subsidies on both smartphones about 9 months early!

  • DiamondAvatar

    TMobile is hitting them hard.

    • dontsh00tmesanta


  • Richard Yarrell

    Plain and simple At&t sucks monkey balls period.

    • squiddy20

      Please. Every carrier you're not currently on, or manufacturer whose phone you don't currently have "sucks monkey balls". 2 years ago you were with Sprint/HTC. You claimed Verizon was "the devil", that you'd never sign a contract with them, and that you'd never own any of "Samsuck's crappy ass plastic devices". Just a few short months later, you were on Verizon with the Gnex. A few months after that, you were on T-Mobile with the S3 and (again) claiming how "crappy" Verizon was.

      • simp1istic

        Why on earth do you know what carrier or where this guy was two years ago. Weird.

        • FrillArtist

          Because Richard the village idiot always puts his business out there. He always has to make it known what crappy phone he's using.

    • FrillArtist

      You said the same thing about T-Mobile before switching to them. You're just an idiot. Plain and simple.

  • BigMixxx

    OK...when will Verizon fall in line.

    • Cenarl

      no need to, their sub base is GROWING and they are making tons upon tons of money.

    • Bob G

      Never ever ever.

  • Shenell4485

    мʏ ʀօօмαт­­­­­­℮­­­­­­'ѕ ѕт­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ք-мօтн­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ʀ мαĸ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ѕ $62/нʀ օɴ тн­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ ιɴт­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­т. ѕн­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ нαѕ в­­­­­­℮­­­­­­­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ɴ օυт օғ աօʀĸ ғօʀ ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ιɢнт мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн н­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ʀ ƈн­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ƈĸ աαѕ $1з5з9 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ιɴт­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­т ғօʀ α ғ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ա нօυʀѕ. ʟιɴĸ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ɖ н­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ʀ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­fox800&#46com

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Verizon hasn't felt the heat yet I wonder why

  • Beth

    It's cheeper for me to pay the ETF with AT & T (still have a year on both phones) and move over to T- Mobile and bring my own phone, which I like and are in great shape.

  • Josh Coppinger

    Yeah this is a great idea! Do you know how many people call in on a daily basis becasue their phones are broken? This is like a free upgrade if something terrible happen. This is giving you a free-bee

  • Daydreamer

    Unless my math is off, it seems like a 2 year contract is still the cheapest way to go over a two year period in NC (1GB plan with shown with taxes included):
    Next 18: $2,719.76 over 24 months.
    No contract: $2,700. over 24 months
    2 Year contract: $2,607.85 over 24 months.

    Still not a big difference. I guess it just comes down to how much money you want to dish-out when you sign up.

    Additionally, I don't know where you guys are from, but where I live in North Carolina, AT&T has the fewest number of dropped calls, and the highest level of over-all service of all the major carriers.