It wasn't too long ago when you had to exercise patience in a wireless plan. Two years was the only option you could take when upgrading a smartphone, and you accepted it. Due to industry demands, wireless carriers have had to adjust their strategies on upgrading customers to keep them interested. AT&T was one of the first companies falling into line after close competitor T-Mobile launched its original campaign of ridding contracts and moving to a lease based system. While AT&T still offers a 2-year contract, and the phone at a subsidized price, the days of contracts seem numbered.
Currently, the carrier affectionately nicknamed the "Death Star", offers 3 competitive device leasing alternatives. These include: AT&T Next 12, AT&T Next 18, and AT&T Next 24. The big difference between the 3 choices is the monthly fee associated with the device. All selections require a $0 down payment (a customer must pass a qualifying credit check to participate), but the longer the program, the lower the monthly payment. If you are a person that likes to upgrade more frequently, the Next 12 option might be more your speed despite the higher monthly premiums. As mentioned previously, a qualifying credit check is necessary to enroll in one of these programs. AT&T is rumored to open up a 4th option to those who would not normally qualify for the plan. This new solution will be deemed "AT&T Next 12 With Down Payment."
Likely launching on May 28th, the premise of this installment works eerily similar to the $0 down versions of the credit qualifying variations of the Next plans, but requires a 30% deposit on the device at time of sale. The remaining portion of the phone will be split into equal payments over 28 months without being tied to a contract. The upgrade eligibility still remains intact (after 12 months), and provides new opportunities to customers previously not qualified for the standard Next programs.
Other authorized resellers of AT&T are supposedly eligible to begin enrolling customers in this plan as well. Online retailers like Bestbuy.com have the possibility of going live as early as 5/21, but bigger corporate stores like Apple may not do a program rollout till this summer.