Say goodbye to the era of the $200 on-contract smartphone. Verizon has just announced a new plan structure, and part of the change is an end to phone subsidies. From now on, you'll purchase phones from Verizon on a payment plan or at full price. The new plans aren't substantially cheaper, but they are a bit more straightforward.
Verizon's new plans have consistent line access fees for each device—$20 for every phone, $10 for tablets, and $5 for a connected device like a watch (please, no). Then you add data to the plan, which can be shared across all your lines (up to 10). They come in fast food-inspired small, medium, large, and x-large sizes. Feel free to make supersize jokes about data plans now.
The small plan is $30 per month and has 1GB of data, medium is $45 for 3GB, the large plan has 6GB for $60 per month, and finally x-large offers 12GB for $80. Verizon's previous plans were weirdly complicated with different line access fees depending on how much data you wanted. So at least this way it's easier to add up and decide on a plan. It works out to be maybe $5-10 cheaper, depending on which version of the current plans you're on.
The bigger news is that Verizon won't allow new customers or upgrades to take advantage of subsidized pricing anymore. When these new plans go into effect on August 13th, there just won't be contracts at all. Like T-Mobile, you'll simply pay a phone off over the course of two years (the Edge name is no longer a thing), but you can pay it off completely at the time of purchase if you like.
This leaves just AT&T and Sprint with contract options, but both are pushing payment plans harder. I wouldn't be surprised if they both drop subsidies before too long.