In the past few years, we have seen wireless carriers go from selling subsidized smartphones, to financing them. Basically breaking the cost for the phone out of the customers' monthly bill. AT&T's financing and early-upgrade plan is called 'AT&T Next' and over the past few years it has gotten pretty confusing. AT&T has about four different plans under AT&T Next, however that is about to be changed to just two, on June 9th.
The company announced today that there will be AT&T Next and then AT&T Next Every Year. The differences here are pretty simple. AT&T Next allows you to pay for your phone with 30 monthly payments. While AT&T Next Every Year allows you to pay for it over 24 months. However with AT&T Next Every Year, you can also upgrade after 12 months. Or you can pay off 50% of the smartphone and be eligible to upgrade. When upgrading, you will need to turn in your current smartphone. AT&T will allow you to apply the value of that phone towards your new phone. Making it a pretty good reason to turn in your old one. Keep in mind that with AT&T Next Every Year, you don't actually own the phone (unless you completely pay it off), which is why they are wanting you to turn in the phone when you upgrade. That's something that all four US carriers are doing
With down payments, there's nothing changing here. However AT&T does note that customers can opt for a larger down payment. The advantage go making a bigger down payment is that their monthly payments will be a bit smaller. It will also help customers get to 50% paid off sooner. Good for those that want to upgrade sooner.
So there you have it. AT&T is simplifying their upgrade and financing system for buying new smartphones. And it should work out pretty well for their customers. Pricing isn't really changing, the big changes here is making it less confusing, and getting rid of the 12-month plan for AT&T Next. According to AT&T's blog post today, the new options for AT&T Next will be available on June 9th, just a few weeks from now.