I don’t know if AT&T and T-Mobile were sharing notes or what, but AT&T has followed up the announcement of T-Mobile’s JUMP! program very quickly with their own similar program expediting the acquisition of new smartphones, called AT&T Next.
AT&T Next will allow you to upgrade your phone or tablet once a year, instead of once every other year. You’ll need to be due for an upgrade to enroll in the program, which will officially kick off on July 26. Once enrolled in the program, you’ll be able to upgrade to a new phone or tablet after one year without paying anything up front. You would get the same kind of monthly installment plan for the new device that T-Mobile is currently running with. The monthly payments will vary depending on the device you choose – more expensive phones will have higher monthly payments – but once you’ve made 12 payments, you’ll be eligible to upgrade. At that point, you have a choice. You can continue making monthly payments on the device until you hit 20 months and pay the device off, or trade in your device and get a new one, with a new monthly payment plan.
Seeing AT&T going with monthly payments for devices means that you’ll have just another thing tying you to the telecom, besides the contract. AT&T Next should be a bulwark against attrition for AT&T, but on the consumer side, it should mean that you end up paying slightly less over time for new phones, provided that you upgrade promptly after one year. Trading in your old phone also seems like it has more potential to be less wasteful than disposing of it on your own, so that’s a plus for the environment, too (hopefully).