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AT&T Follows Verizon’s Lead, Changes Upgrade Cycle to 24 Months

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This beautiful Sunday afternoon, AT&T announced that they are joining Verizon by tweaking their upgrade policy to match the length of contract periods. Back in early April, we broke news on Verizon’s change from 20-month upgrade cycles to 24-month cycles – AT&T will now follow the same time frame. This new policy “applies to any customer whose agreement expires in March 2014 or later.” So if your contract ends prior to next March, you’ll actually still be able to upgrade at the 20th month mark. Should your contract end next March or thereafter, you’ll have to wait an additional four months. 

Of course, AT&T is making sure customers know all of their upgrade options. Things like sharing upgrades between lines, finding discounts with trade-ins of old phones, and bringing your own device is still allowed. They are also telling customers that after being on-contract for six months, that they may qualify for a partial discount off the full retail price of a phone.

Here are the upgrade options going forward:

  • Purchase a subsidized device with a new two-year wireless agreement.  You will be eligible to upgrade your device at the subsidized price after 24 months.
  • Share an upgrade.  Share an upgrade with another person on your account provided it is within the same device category (e.g. phone to phone, tablet to tablet, etc.)
  • Early upgrades.  Once you’ve completed six months or more of your Service Commitment, you qualify for partial discount off the full retail price when you sign a new two-year wireless agreement.
  •  Trade-in.  Take advantage of our trade in program. And, for a limited time, when you trade in your current smartphone (three years or newer and in good working condition), you could receive at least $100 off the purchase of a new smartphone.1
  • Purchase a device at full retail price.  You can pay full retail price for a phone anytime without a two-year Service Commitment.
  • Bring your own device.  You’re welcome to bring a compatible GSM-capable phone to AT&T and sign up for service without a Service Commitment.

So there you have it, the two biggest carriers in the country following similar patterns. First with shared data plans, now this.


Via:  AT&T

  • Eudis Taveras

    So, can I get out of my early termination fee because of the rate increase for a phone upgrade?

  • f5rr

    you know i am really surprised at how many of us get off topic. Just by reading a few comments we have already forgotten what this article was about in the first place… anyone remember? ahh yes, this article was about AT&T tacking on 4 months of wait time until we can get our next upgrade. Funny how all of us just sit back and accept that AT&T will continually take our benefits away without repercussion from the customers they serve, US. And yes i am one of those customers too. I guess things just haven’t gotten bad enough yet for us to do or say something about it. Or maybe i will do just that today and give AT&T a little call and a little piece of my mind. I may be just one out of the millions of customers, or i may be the millionth. Either way, i want to do something instead of just talk about it and i hope that whoever reads this will have the foresight, AND fortitude to try to make a difference as well.

  • Justin Haghighi

    I loved taking advantage of upgrades before my contract was even over. If I’m still signing an agreement to stay with you for two years, why bother even changing it? Now I get to wait until my contact is actually over before upgrading, which allows me to look at devices on OTHER carriers. Thanks, AT&T.

  • gee

    I don’t understand how we keep letting these companies walk all over customers. The US is so far behind on internet speed, pricing, and now taking away unlimited internet. in other countries data plans are a lot better

  • Rick

    Just to point out, if it is every 24 months then there is no cycle you idiots… What this means is at the end of your 2 year or 24 month contract you can upgrade… Upgrade to what? your contract is over at that point… And for those who still have unlimited plans “FOR NOW” have no cycle either…

    Its a shell game, when one does something the other follows, they do this on purpose… It is not for the customers as you all seem to suggest… This helps no one but the companies who screw you over…

  • T4rd

    If anyone ever needed further evidense that a duopoly exists between these two, this is it.

    AT&T drops unlimited data > Verizon drops unlimited data

    AT&T introduces tiered data plans > Verizon introduces tiered data plans

    Verizon introduces shared data plans > AT&T introduces shared data plans.

    Verizon kills 20 month upgrade cycle > AT&T kills 20 month upgrade cycle.
    There’s more too, I’m sure. They’re so blatant about it, it’s sickening.

    • Stephen Cox

      I think the only thing AT&T hasn’t done is force people out of unlimited when they sign a new contract.

      But I am sure they will if you give them time…

  • Ian

    Hmm…changes that actually benefit the customer seem to be a pipe dream now.

  • disastrousrainbow

    Wow, I totally wasn’t expecting this…said no one ever. Honestly, for the majority this change will be shrugged off, very few people actually upgrade at 20 months to begin with, at least when compared to those who upgrade at or past 24 months. What people should really be doing is dropping dimes into a phone savings bucket after their final contract or something. My best friends did that when they got their iPhone 4S’ way back when and have now amassed enough to purchase their phones full retail.

  • I don’t understand this. I get not wanting to upgrade every 20 months. But why not make it 23 to make it tantalizing for people to renew before their contract is up? Surely that’s worth a month of the contract right; making sure that people don’t leave you because they have an option?

  • Mark Long

    Glad to see At&t following all of Verizon’s stupid moves. Makes me even happier I’m with T-Mobile.

  • Michael Quinlan

    I don’t get why AT&T or Verizon would do this. Allowing customers to get a full subsidy on a new phone 4 months before the end of their contract is an easy way to keep existing customers. Stay with us and you can get a new phone NOW… switch carriers and you’ll have to wait another 4 months for a new phone. With these new policies, customers who want a full subsidy are forced to wait until their contract is completed, at which point they are free to choose any carrier.

  • Swauger

    Of course they do.

  • 4G4Free4U

    There’s actually a new option, especially if you like TMobile!! Bring your own phone or get one NEW… No money down, No
    payments for six months including the Galaxy S4! This mobile service PAYS
    YOU to use your phone, to save you money on the things you’re paying for
    already. No contracts, Nothing to “join”. No added fees! and there’s
    no catch. Just Click on the link then fill out the form to learn
    more! http://www.4G4Free4U.sharesolavei.com

  • yummy

    I see pond scum

  • hoyce1212

    Verizon and ATT screw themselves for a whole quarter by doing this. This ultimately leaves 4 months to where the only people that can upgrage are the people that had an upgrade before september(verizon) and before march (att). Those people that had their 20 month upgrades after those months can no longer upgrade then. If you own stock in those companies, sell before then.

  • I am so glad that they have done this. It was always difficult explaining to customers how the whole process worked. They could never understand that you could upgrade your phone 4 months before your contract was over but you couldn’t cancel it. I thought it was also funny that they thought it was mandatory that you had to resign a contract every two years.

    • TylerChappell

      Sooo you’re a sales rep who thinks its better for customers to be tied down for a few months longer just because it saves you from explaining something to them, which is your job to do?

      • Former Rep. I am fine with explaining to them but most people just won’t get it or care. The biggest confusion is when people ask when they can upgrade but are really look for when their contract end date.

        Customers are only going to feel tied down when they feel like they have to own the newest phones. Which honestly is a small number of people that I have helped get new phones.

        With many of these policies they are not going to be drastic for the average wireless consumer. People who follow blogs like this are going to a greater uproar about them. This is the same thing as when they switched to shared data, many families requested it but a small set of people didn’t like it.

  • Spider210

    Figures this is why the government should just step in for the wireless.

    • Verizon

      Brilliant! The government does a bang up job at running everything else. Let’s put them in charge of everything.

      • EC8CH

        How about not in charge, but just putting in place some common sense standards and regulations to ensure a competitive market… hmmm kay?

        • Verizon

          I wouldn’t mind that if it wasn’t for the fact that big brother screws up just about everything it touches. They already stepped in and royally screwed healthcare once before. Now they actually think they can do a good job again.

          Let people decide with their wallets.

    • hoyce1212

      Then the government wouldn’t have to ask the carriers for your information. They would already have it.

      • Ian

        The carriers are obviously putting up a great fight on that front, oh wait, they just rolled over and gave it to the gov’t?

        • EC8CH

          here I don’t blame the carriers. the government shouldn’t be requesting dragnet surveillance orders in the first place.

          • Ian

            Agree the gov’t shouldn’t be doing this, but the carriers aren’t blameless.

    • michael arazan

      How about letting the citizens run government and and keep Big Business out of our Government. Outlaw corporation influence on our congress

  • RollTribe

    I missed the cutoff by two and a half weeks. I was going to buy the One in December, but by April the next big flagships will already be out so this is going to force me to get a better phone. Or I could juts buy a Nexus.

    • Mark Mann

      get a Two

  • Anon

    Really considering going to Straight Talk when my Verizon contract is up. Verizon may have LTE, but phone selection isn’t as good and prices are high. AT&T has better phone selection, but prices aren’t any better and I see no reason to get locked in if I can get similar performance on a month-to-month plan for less. I’m willing to pay more for my phone to do so, too.

    Expires mid-fall. Watching and waiting to see what new phones are in the pipelines, what carriers they support, and if I can buy through the Play store.

  • richkoos

    The only spark of light I ever got on a 2 year contract was when the 20 months was up, in my head I would always think two years but it was a little ray of hope to change my phone. Now a 2 year contract is actually 24 months…

    • Mark Mann

      dang them for making a 2 year contract a 2 year contract instead of a year and 2/3 contract

      • TylerChappell

        Yes because forcing people to have to wait an extra 4 months (which is nearly an eternity in the technology world) to buy a device they want and can afford to get now is such a good thing.
        You must not realize that hardware and cell service are not one and the same.

        • Mark Mann

          yes because two years is 20 months in what world? no one is saying you can’t get a different phone, you just can’t get one subsidized for two years…

          • TylerChappell

            I don’t buy subsidized. But most people do because they can only afford to. Taking away a privilege that these people have been used to through their life of owning a cell phone serves absolutely no purpose other than to allow the carriers to milk more profits off of outdated devices when people would rather not have to wait 4 months longer than they did before to enjoy a nice new piece of technology that they use on a daily basis.

          • Mark Mann

            then they shouldn’t have agreed to a two year contract…to me, you can’t get mad at at&t, verizon what have you for enforcing the term “two year” and making it so it’s not a year and 2/3’s…also, if you can’t afford a smartphone, you shouldn’t have one…plain and simple…it’s called living within your means…i know a LOT of people that only have textphones or regular cell phones and they’re perfectly happy with them…

          • Mark Mann

            but subsidized isn’t going away like you seem to act like it is, the big change here is you have to wait out your entire contract versus only doing 3/4s of it

          • TylerChappell

            I’m not at all acting like it’s going away. I am saying that it’s pure BS that people could previously enjoy a new phone 3/4 of the way through their contract and now they must wait an extra 4 months. Maybe someone didn’t wanna buy a 4+-month old device.

          • Mark Mann

            i went almost 3 years before i used my first upgrade(from the OG droid to the razr)…you don’t need to buy a 4 month old device…just like you don’t need to use your upgrade immediately when it’s available…

  • Bigsike

    Boy I would love to own some Tmobile stock right about now.

    • Sean Bello

      it’s cheap enough to buy, have at it LOL

  • nina

    not surprising. business trends dictate what’s best for the company-

  • Lonnie Kerchief

    This would apply to me if 1) I was an AT&T customer and 2) I was willing to buy on-contract and give up my unlimited data. Neither of those will ever be true.

    • Sean Bello

      you don’t have to give it up, but you’re gonna lose it sooner rather than later

  • youraudience

    Beautiful my ass. We don’t all live on the west coast.

    • LiterofCola

      Then move.

      • El_Big_CHRIS


  • Goldenpins

    Doesn’t surprise me. They just like to clone each others steps on intervals apart so they don’t look suspicious.

  • InvaderDJ

    This is what I’m talking about when I say there is unofficial collusion between Verizon and at&t so they don’t have to compete. In a real open market at&t would have kept their upgrade dates the same and blasted Verizon. But because they don’t really want to compete they keep all policies and prices in lock step.

    • nate

      That or they realized they could get even more money and not look bad because verizon already did it lol

      • michael arazan

        Wondering if Shammo is collecting 2 paychecks,one from Verizon and one from ATT

      • Speedyrulz

        This is definitely the reason. They see Verizon doing things to make more money so they figure they might as well do it to with less bad press because Verizon already did it.

  • x Frozen MANGO

    Where are all those Verizon haters out that said they switched to AT&T because of this? Come out with those big boy tears ;(;(;(


    • hexodat64

      People here are sick of contracts and getting screwed with less data, so most are, or are considering buying phones out of contract at full price. If you want to do this, one company has a much better selection of phones and quicker updates than the other. Verizon is not that one.

      I just got a DNA off of Swappa, but I’ll be taking a hard look at what to do when my contract ends

    • I can only speak for one Verizon hater, myself, but the 24 month contract had nothing to do with my switch as you knew in the “monkey see monkey do” world of US cell carriers that AT&T would certainly follow suit.

      I left Verizon because of their crappy phone selection and the fact that any phone I bought on Verizon would be nothing more than a boat anchor if I ever decided to leave them whereas my unlocked HTC One will work just about anywhere I should decide to go.

    • Fartbox

      Ha! Exactly! When Verizon did this, folks pitched a fit about how horrible they are. Now that AT&T is doing it, the majority are blaming the industry as a whole and not echoing their endless Verizon rants. Do you think AT&T just decided this at the last minute bec VZW did it? No, they had it in the chamber for a long time and waited to see what the fallout would be. AT&T are sheep, just like the majority of their customers.

  • Booyabobby

    Way to go AT&T. You had an opportunity to take advantage of early upgrades and you screw it up.

  • Aran Miller

    Screw contracts. Just buy the Nexus 4.

    • LiterofCola

      Not everybody wants the Nexus 4

      • Aran Miller

        I love Nexus, clean Android. It works for me, and much cheaper.

      • TylerChappell

        Yeah, not everyone wants what is best for them. We get that. But then when they get a different device and complain about it breaking, not doing certain things, not receiving updates, then no one will feel sorry about them

    • nate

      Tell ATT to bring 4g, or any coverage for that matter, to rural Iowa and I’m in.

      • DainLaguna

        to be fair…that has nothing to do with the nexus 4

        • nate

          How? What use is a Nexus 4 without cellular capabilities?

      • Anonymous

        People don’t live in Iowa

    • Butters619

      And then pay the same price for your plan as somebody who bought a subsidized phone?

      • Aran Miller

        I pay $30 a month for my Nexus 4 plan. Also, I can cancel it whenever i want, no fees.

    • schoat333

      No LTE = No buy.

  • WAldenIV

    Coverage aside, what’s the point of having a choice in carrier if they’re all going to adopt the same policies?

    • Ian Smith


      • hexodat64

        The competition here is at the top, where you have Verizon/AT&T, and then T-Mobile/Sprint are a step down. You do get what you pay for when it comes to coverage

    • Phones, price, data speeds, plans.

      • Geoff Johnson

        They have extremely similar prices and plans. Once Verizon started the share everything plan, so did AT&T. They also use to charge the same per month for identical voice, text, and data plans (within a few dollars). The only thing AT&T has going for them is that they allow grandfathered unlimited data users to still get subsidized upgrades.

        • hkklife

          AT&T also has a significantly better lineup of branded phones as well gives you more flexibility as far as GSM/unlocked phone support.

          • Geoff Johnson

            True, but Verizon has come a long way in making it easier to switch phones. Granted it’s only among other Verizon phones, but now you can simply swap SIM’s between them and don’t have to call and activate every time.

          • DainLaguna

            which effectively makes it less ‘easy’

        • Butters619

          Verizon is a little more expensive than AT&T. Plus, with AT&T if you have unlimited texting, you also get unlimited mobile to any mobile. So calling any cell phone on any carrier is free.

          Everybody I know is on AT&T so if I went to Verizon I would burn through all my minutes because I wouldn’t be able to call mobiles free unless it were a Verizon phone.

          • Verizon

            Um, Verizon is unlimited calling and texting to everybody and you can actually make the call because you have coverage just about everywhere.

          • Butters619

            I wasn’t saying AT&T was better. But Verizon has that for a lot more money. With a $39.99 AT&T plan and a $20 unlimited texting add on you get unlimited calling to ANY mobile phone on ANY network. With Verizon, you don’t start to get free calling until much higher plans.

            But just as a head up, I haven’t dropped a call or not been able to get signal where a Verizon friend had signal for years with AT&T. Only thing that happen now is data gets super congested and sometimes doesn’t even work. Even with LTE.

          • Michael

            all of Verizon’s plans have unlimited calling to any number.

          • Butters619

            Holy crap. When did they change that? I was going to switch to Verizon when the G-Nex came out and they did not offer that.

            I would like to apologize for not being up to date on Verizon plans. Still noticeably more expensive than my AT&T plan though.

          • Michael

            Awhile back… that was one of the main points of the Share Everything plans.

          • Verizon

            I’m just wondering where you find it to be more expensive? From what I’m seeing you are paying $40 + $20 + data to have unlimited texting and unlimited calling to mobile numbers only. With the plan I’m on I pay $40 + data for unlimited calling and texting. I remember the data charges are about the same, so you still end up paying $20 more.

          • Butters619

            AT&T is $40 plan + $20 unlimited texting + $30 data. = $90 total. I still am grandfathered for unlimited but it gets throttled at 5GB. I use between 3-4GB a month.

            Verizon would be $110 for the 4GB plan.

            I don’t need completely unlimited minutes. The unlimited mobile to mobile with AT&T is more than enough with a 450 plan since nearly everybody I call is using a cell phone. Plus I have like 2500 rollover minutes lol.

          • Verizon

            Being grandfathered changes the conversation a bit. Although, $20 difference isn’t THAT big of a difference when you factor in LTE coverage and all that.

          • Butters619

            I have LTE coverage pretty much everywhere I need it (San Diego, LA/OC, SF, Las Vegas). But yeah grandfathered changes the discussion. Although the same $90 with AT&T now would still offer 3GB of data.

          • Cheryl Gubernat

            Why waste money if a customer gets the same service in the areas that matter to them? Verizon may have the largest network, but I’m only interested in good coverage for the coasts.

          • Cheryl Gubernat

            In order for my bill to be only 100 bucks per month, I have to be on a 2gb (across all devices) data plan which is nothing. Aside from my smartphone, I have a hotspot ‘jetpack’ device which I use a few times per month. I have yet to find out for sure how an At&t bill would compare.

          • Cheryl Gubernat

            They changed it this past year, I believe.

          • Verizon

            I think everyone has had problems with their respective carrier. I switched because I had horrible problems with At&t’s coverage. My parents just switched last week because they were unable to get coverage anywhere in their house, but the dinning room.

          • Cheryl Gubernat

            I’m thinking of switching to At&t for a few reasons- one of which is the recent targeting of Verizon customers by the Government. In searching for feedback on area coverage, however, I find that many people are referring to great service or a lac thereof without specifying which type of phone they are using (its network capabilities matter) and equally important- WHERE they live!

          • Avery Dejuan Herron

            verzion has mobile to any mobile plans I’m on one.

          • Butters619

            They were higher up pricing. Not the $40 plan. But now all their plans are different.

    • Rick

      That’s the point you idiot, there is no point, and they all collaborate to do this so you have no reason to switch because, A) you are being screwed equally by any company that provides coverage, and B) So once the price goes up, they will slash the price for a event or to make you think you are getting savings when your not… Once prices go up, they don’t come back down…

      • cns2007

        Wow. Too much caffeine??? Was it really necessary to call him/her an idiot to make your point. Relax, it’s a mostly friendly environment around here.

    • Avery Dejuan Herron

      This should be illegal this is competing in a bad way and I believe they plot these things behind closed doors.

    • rosahauser325

      If you think Lee`s story is really great,, three weeks ago my brother in law also got paid $8285 grafting twelve hour’s a week at home and they’re co-worker’s sister`s neighbour done this for five months and broght in more than $8285 part-time from their mac. use the information on this site… http://www.Pro67.com

  • Don’t you just love how they tend to announce news like this on a Sunday? Like it will somehow lessen the customer backlash if people don’t read about it right away…