AT&T wants more people to sign-up for its non-subsidized, early upgrade plan, AT&T Next. The carrier recently announced it would expand the program to include an option that lets you upgrade your smartphone every 24 months called, appropriately, AT&T Next 24.
The new option will be available beginning Sunday, November 9 to new customers or existing AT&T customers eligible for an upgrade.
Why this matters: For years, the big sell for U.S. carriers was a two-year service contract and a low-cost subsidized upfront price for the phone. Now, however, non-subsidized early upgrade plans are proving to be a popular alternative to the standard carrier contract. In July, AT&T reported that the majority of new customers during AT&T’s second financial quarter opted for the Next plan. In October, AT&T said about half of its new subscribers and upgrading customers chose Next.
Must be in good condition
Even though it’s called AT&T Next 24, the plan is technically a 30-month payment plan if you end up paying off the full cost of the device. The number 24 only refers to the optional upgrade to a new smartphone after 2 years of monthly payments. (Which begs the question: Why not just get a standard two-year subsidized plan if you're willing to pay for your phone over the course of two years anyway?)
To be eligible for an early upgrade your smartphone must be in good condition; however, a device insurance plan that lets you trade-in damaged phones for a new one can often guard against that drawback—although it will cost you a little bit more. AT&T’s device insurance plans start at $7 per month.
With the addition of Next 24, AT&T now offers three separate early upgrade plans that allow customers to switch to the latest and greatest after 12, 18, or 24 months respectively.
To sweeten the deal for new customers, AT&T is also offering a $150 credit off your monthly bill to anyone who switches to the carrier’s network. As usual, however. there are a few caveats that could prevent you from getting the deal. First, you must port your phone number to AT&T, and purchase a new smartphone on AT&T’s Next program. After that you must be a customer in “good standing” for 45 days to receive the credit, which is divided between three monthly bills.