AT&T has sent out an internal communique to employees today that signals a change in the way the carrier sells devices. It's getting with the times and ditching the two-year contracts that used to be standard for the US wireless industry. The change happens on January 8th, so you'll want to hurry if you were planning to get a phone on contract for some reason.
The message to employees says that as of January 8th, phones will only be available to customers with Next payment plans or at full retail price. This includes all phones, not just smartphones. Additionally, this applies to all individual customers both new and existing. Large corporate accounts may still have access to contract pricing, though. The document doesn't specifically mention tablets or watches, but it would be weird to still offer contracts on those devices when phones are only available via payment plans.
This move is not unexpected from AT&T. Both Verizon and T-Mobile have already abandoned the contract model, and Sprint is expected to do so soon. AT&T also stopped offering contracts on new devices through third-party retailers earlier this year.
Tablets and wearables
AT&T has told us that it will continue offering contracts for tablets, wearables, and mobile hotspots. So there's that...