AT&T’s new Next plan gives customers a free annual phone upgrade with no down payment

AT&T’s new Next plan gives customers a free annual phone upgrade with no down payment

As promised earlier this month, AT&T has revealed “what’s next” for its wireless service — and it is not LTE-Advanced news, but rather to do with devices.

Hot on the heels of T-Mobile’s new phone upgrade plan called Jump, which was announced last week, AT&T has introduced its own take with a new plan.

From July 26 onward, all new AT&T customers or existing customers who are eligible for a phone upgrade can get a new smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. All they have to do is pay 12 monthly installments, after which they can trade in their device and upgrade to a brand new one — again with no down payment — or they can continue using their device till the payments end after 20 months.

The US mobile network provider’s new plan, dubbed AT&T Next, is likely aimed at countering criticism over device upgrade restrictions, It may even be a response to T-Mobile lashing out at the “stupid, broken, arrogant industry,” with CEO John Legere saying customers are fed up with AT&T and “coming to them in droves.”

Under T-Mobile’s plan, for a $10 monthly fee, customers can trade in their existing phones for a new one at the same or lower price that is offered to new customers, but without needing to pay the remaining payments owed on it. The catch: a six-month waiting period will be implemented before customers can upgrade their phone.

AT&T Next will also likely drive a rapid pickup of its 4G LTE network. AT&T has been on a 4G LTE expansion tear lately, announcing that it had added over two dozen new or expanded coverage areas on July 2.

The AT&T Next option is available for any current smartphone or tablet that the operator carries, with interest-free monthly device installments ranging from $15 to $50. A customer who chooses a Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, will pay $32 per month, on top of a monthly wireless service plan, and can trade it in and upgrade to a different device after 12 months.

Ralph de la Vega, the president and CEO of AT&T Mobility noted that it would be “incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year.”

The company’s move will also likely see more smartphones being sold — in the fourth quarter last year, AT&T announced that it saw unit sales top the 10 million mark for the first time in its history, eclipsing the 9.4 million record set a full year earlier.

Image Credit: Justin Sullivan via AFP/Getty Images

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