AT&T Next vs Verizon Monthly Device Payments vs Apple iPhone Upgrade Program vs Apple iPhone Payments

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Last Update: September 20, 2018

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Can you believe a hidden iPhone Payment plan is the best one available? Be careful where you start your shopping.

Smartphone Product Cycle

The cellular industry is built around yearly releases of major products. Samsung and Apple introduce new flagship devices every year. Each year, customers have to make a decision whether they want to break their contract to upgrade to the newest Smartphone.  With phones changing less and less every year, the phone upgrade cycle has extended to over 24 months for most customers.

  • The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program and AT&T Next Every Year plan allows users to upgrade every year without incurring penalties.
  • AT&T Next allows for upgrades every 2 years.

There is always a catch, so we will examine these plans in detail. Most articles have labeled the Next Plan as expensive and a way for AT&T to generate more revenue. As you will see, this plan can actually be cheaper than the normal two year commitment that most people signed up for in the past.

  • Would you rather pay $999 upfront or $49.91/month for 24 months?

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Most Smartphone plans in the USA require shoppers to commit to a 2 year contract. They cannot change phones during this time unless they want to pay an expensive early termination fee, for cancelling their contract early.  This changed it to separate the plan from the phone purchase.

AT&T Next Plan

AT&T created a new wireless plan way in 2013 called AT&T Next Installment to address the needs of customers who want to upgrade to the latest and greatest Smartphone every year and also those who wanted to divide the payment of a new phone over many months resulting in low monthly payments.

Current ATT plans:

  • AT&T Next - Upgrade every 2 years, 0% APR 30-month installment agreement
  • AT&T Next Every Year - Upgrade every year, 0% APR 24-month installment agreement

Verizon Monthly Device Payments

Verizon followed suit with their program a shortly thereafter.  The program requires you to enter a device installment agreement to pay for the device in monthly payments over 24 months. No upgrading provision.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile requires you to pay a large down payment on the iPhone XS $279.99 (If you have Awesome Credit) then pay $30/month over 24 months. With Average Credit you have to pay $519.99 down, $20/month over 24 months.

No upgrade provision.

Samsung

Samsung is the other big player. We are concentration on the iPhone in this article. If you want a Samsung smartphone, we suggest you buy directly from them.  They support their phone on all 4 carriers, take trade-ins, and have a monthly installment plan. You can also buy an unlocked phone.

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program

Apple introduced the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2015. It was designed to get customers to buy the phone directly from Apple instead of the major cell phone companies, a major change. You can spread the phone cost over 24 months, with an option to get a new iPhone after 12 payments. Citizens Bank financed the program. Consider this program even if you do not intent to upgrade.

  • You need to select one of the 4 carriers to see this option.
  • Works with your carrier and rate plan
  • If you have frozen your credit report, you need to temporarily unfreeze it (Equifax, etc)  to have a new contract go through, unlike the AT&T or Verizon programs.
  • This program has AppleCare+ coverage bundled into your monthly payment. The iPhone Upgrade Program can work in conjunction with your existing wireless carrier and rate plan.

If you select AT&T as your carrier when ordering an iPhone, you will see the following screen:

You can sign up for the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program or AT&T's Next Installment Plan. But, if you click on Show more payment options, you will see the next hidden Apple iPhone Payments option appear:

Apple iPhone Payments

Apple added a new hidden option with the release of the iPhone 8 in 2017, Apple iPhone Payments.

  • This program does not force you to buy AppleCare+
  • Price identical to AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers.
  • The one bonus is that  your iPhone is Unlocked, so it can be used anywhere.
  • No upgrading to the next iPhone is included unlike the iPhone Upgrade Program.
  • This program works with any carrier and rate plan.

This is a major change that is a no brainer for most people.

  • The only reason to use AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile to buy your phone, is if they have promotions that save you money!

Be sure to download the BuyVia App, which helps you save money on items you want from stores you like, both online and locally.

AT&T changes its plans from time to time, so we will reanalyze it when the time comes. There are also limited time promotions like an occasional rebate with specific phones or credit to adding a new Next line or a Buy 1 Get 1 Free.

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program Analysis

Is the iPhone Upgrade Program worth it?

With the iPhone 7 launch, Apple added a new option that does not include upgrading or AppleCare+.  It is priced the same as AT&T Next and Verizon Edge plans. The advantages:

  • You are getting an unlocked phone vs a locked phone
  • You can optionally buy AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss

This helps people buy hardware from Apple, while having the freedom to work with different carriers.  A great way for Apple to keep selling hardware. Here are the main features:

  • Upgrade to a new iPhone every year, then start a new plan
  • Installment payments made over 24 months
  • iPhone is unlocked unlike the major carriers
  • Broken screen repair was lowered in 9/2016 to $29
  • Select from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint
  • Optionally includes AppleCare+ Protection Plan - $129 Value (Extended warranty, 2 incidents of accidental damage, Tech Support, etc)
  • Replacements for accidentally damaged devices up to 2 times for another $99
  • You must activate the phone on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon when you buy the iPhone. You can cancel right away after this.

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program for iPhone XS

Here are the charges incurred when you purchase an iPhone XS 64GB with this Plan. The plan allows you to upgrade your phone after one year. It only covers ownership of the phone, not the monthly service plan.

Amount due at Sale:

$0 Activation fee

Sales tax on full value of phone $87.50 in our area.

Total due at time of sale: $87.50

Monthly Plan:

$41.62/month installment charge for iPhone XS for 24 months

Amount paid after one year:

$41.62 X 12 months = $499.44 + $87.50 Sales Tax = $588.06.

You can now get a new iPhone if you wish.

Amount Paid to fulfill complete Apple iPhone contract: (24 months)

$41.62 X 24 months = $ 999+ $87.50 Sales Tax = $1086.50

iPhone value is now roughly $300

Surprise – If you bought the iPhone XS on Day 1 it would have cost $999 + $87.50 Tax = $1086.50. Just the same. At least you got 0% interest and effectively saved money.

First two years of Smartphone Ownership if you upgrade after 12 months:

Year 1: iPhone XS $588.06.

Year 2: Next iPhone $588.06

Total cost for 2 years: $1176.12

Caveat – You do not own the iPhone until you fulfill the complete 24 month installment period.

AT&T Next Plan Every Year Review

Here are the main features of this AT&T Smartphone Plan:

    • Get a new Smartphone every year with tradein - AT&T Next Every Year Plan
    • Upgrade to a new Smartphone with eligible trade-in after 80% of retail price is paid - AT&T Next Plan
    • Next Plan Every Year lasts for 24
    • Next Plan lasts for 30 months
    • Available to new customers or existing customers if they are qualified for an upgrade
    • This is an installment agreement along with wireless service
    • No down payment, No upgrade fee, No financing fee - 0% APR
    • No activation fee, but sales tax is due at signup
    • Need to trade in the phone in good condition or else you’ll be charged extra
    • When you trade in the Smartphone, you will receive nothing
    • You will own the Smartphone after 24, or 30 months of payments, before that, you are just leasing it
    • If you cancel or lose the phone, you have to pay the remaining balance
    • Tablets are no longer on the plan
    • Limit of 4 Smartphones
    • Early payment is ok
    • 14 day return period with a $35 restocking fee
    • After you trade in your Smartphone, you can start a new Next Plan

For AT&T Next, pay a lump sum amount that fulfills 80% of the retail price in order to upgrade with eligible trade-in. For AT&T Next Every Year, pay a lump sum amount that fulfills 50% of the retail price in order to upgrade with eligible trade-in.

Please note that to trade in your smartphone, it must be fully functional and in good physical condition.

AT&T Next Plan for iPhone XS

The default plan that AT&T sells is the AT&T Next 30 month installment agreement. We will list out the charges due when you setup a Next Plan 30 month installment plan on AT&T Wireless. Well Qualified credit is required.

iPhone XS 64GB Full price is $999. The AT&T Next 30 month plan $33.34/month allows you to upgrade after you pay 80% of the sales price. ($800) The AT&T Next Every Year plan (24 months) has a higher monthly cost ($41.67) but allows for upgrading when you have paid 50% ($499.99).

Amount due at Sale:

$20 Activation fee

Sales tax on full value of phone $87.50 in our area.

Total due at time of sale: $107.50 - This is the main advantage!

AT&T Monthly Plan:

$33.34/month installment charge for iPhone XS for 30 months (Total $999.99)

Unlimited & More talk and text and data plan

$45/month + $35 Device Access Charge - $10 AutoPay and paperless billing discount = $70/month

Total due each month: $33.34 + $70 = $103.34.

Amount paid after two years:

$103.34 X 24 months = $2480.16  + $87.50 Sales Tax = $2567.66.

You can now get a new Smartphone if you wish.

Amount Paid to fulfill Next contract: (30 months)

$103.34 X 30 months = $3100.20 + $87 Sales Tax = $3187.20

Phone value after 30 months is now roughly $225

Caveat – you do not own the phone unless you fulfill installment period

After fulfilling your phone's installment plan (30 monthly payments in the case of Next plan), your bill would fall to $70/month because you paid off the phone and you now own it.

AT&T Mobile Insurance is available, it does cover loss, theft, damage, like AppleCare+ Theft and Loss. There’s a $200 declining deductible with $50 off if you submit a claim after 6 months, $100 off if you submit a claim after 12 months.

When is the AT&T Next Plan worthwhile?

There are specific situations where the Next Plan is worth considering. One of these situations might depend on your timing on fulfilling the contract.

  • You are already an AT&T customer
  • You do not like selling your old phone
  • If the 30 months brings you closer to an Apple (September) or Samsung (February) release date

Verizon Monthly Device Payment Plan

The Verizon Monthly Device Payment Plan allows customers to divide the cost of a smartphone over 24 months without making a big initial payment. On approved credit, you will get 0% APR financing, making it a lot easier to pay $41.66 a month (For 24 months) instead of $1000 immediately.  There are no early upgrade provisions.

  • No Early Upgrade option
  • 0% interest
  • Plan lasts for 24 months
  • Activation fee may be charged
  • Monthly charge for phone is full retail divided by 24 months
  • Available to new customers or existing customers if they are qualified for an upgrade
  • This is an installment agreement along with wireless service
  • No down payment, No upgrade fee, No financing fee - If you credit is not good, you may have to pay something up front.
  • Sales tax for entire price is due at signup
  • 14 day return period with a $35 restocking fee
  • Your monthly device payments will be charged on your bill.
  • You can choose to pay the installments over the full period of the term or in a lump sum to pay off the total price at any time

Conclusion

AT&T Next, Verizon Device Payments, and Apple's iPhone Upgrade Plan and iPhone Device Payments add more ways for Smartphone owners to upgrade to the latest technology without waiting 2 years for their contract to be finished. If you are a frequent upgrader, these plans are a no brainer.

Best plan for those upgrading every year?

  • The Apple iPhone Payments does give you an unlocked phone, something you would normally wait 20 months for on AT&T, so we pick that as the most desirable plan. Start your shopping at apple.com

The Best plan for regular users?

  • The hidden iPhone Device Payments. Pay the same but get an unlocked phone right away. Switch carriers anytime. Start your shopping at apple.com

Do you have a different opinion of this comparison of AT&T Next, Apple iPhone Upgrade, iPhone Device Payments or a different suggestion?

Please leave a comment below.

Legacy information of the previous Verizon Edge Plan

Verizon cancelled the Verizon Edge Upgradeable Smartphone plan in 2015. Here are the details for this discontinued plan.

Verizon Customers on active device payment agreements before 5/31/15 can upgrade their device, which is an option to turn in your existing device and purchase a new device on a device installment agreement without an upgrade fee. You must meet the other eligibility requirements for device payment program to use this option.

Here are the main features of this Verizon Smartphone Plan:

  • Get a new Smartphone after 30 days and 100% of phone paid off – must pay remaining balance to the 1 year mark. This changed in May 31, 2015. (It used to be 30 days and 75%)
  • Discounts for Verizon More Everything Plans
  • After 1 year, there will not be an upgrade fee
  • 0% interest
  • Plan lasts for 24 months
  • Monthly charge for phone is full retail divided by 24 months
  • Available to new customers or existing customers if they are qualified for an upgrade
  • This is an installment agreement along with wireless service
  • No down payment, No upgrade fee, No financing fee - If you credit is not good, you may have to pay something up front.
  • NO upgrade fee, No activation fee, but sales tax is due at signup
  • Need to trade in the phone in good condition or else you’ll be charged an extra fee
  • When you trade in the Smartphone, you will receive nothing in return
  • You will own the Smartphone after the full 24 months, before that, you are just leasing it
  • If you cancel or lose the phone, you have to pay the remaining balance
  • 14 day return period with a $35 restocking fee
  • After you trade in your Smartphone, you can start a new Edge Plan
  • Save on your monthly bill's line access cost on The More Everything Plan

Verizon Edge Plan for iPhone 7 (Discontinued)

We will list out the charges due when you setup an Edge Plan for two of the most popular Smartphones on Verizon Wireless. Note the price of the S6 changes often and currently costs less per month.

iPhone 7 32GB with Verizon Edge Plan. This allows us to upgrade after one year. Keep in mind that promotions will cause these prices to change from time to time.

Amount due at sale:

$0 One Time Activation fee

$0 Initial fee

Sales tax on full value of phone $57 in our area.

Total due at time of sale: $57 + $0 = $57

Monthly Plan:

$27.08/month installment charge for iPhone 7 32GB

Medium Plan 4GB with unlimited talk and text

Smartphone $27.08 + $20 Line Fee+ Medium Plan $50 = $97.08/month

Total due each month: $97.08 + Taxes

They increased data plan sizes in mid 2016.

Amount Paid to fulfill contract: (24 months)

$97.08 X 24 months = $2329 + $57 Initial Sales Tax = $2386.

iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 resale value is now roughly $250 at the end of the 2 years.

Surprise – this is less than old 2 year plan!

Stop complaining. Prices have fallen. This price was $2696.76 in the middle of 2014!

AT&T Next Plan Charges about $100 less.

Caveat – you do not own the phone till 2 years have past.

After 2 years, you are ready to get another phone!

After 2 years your bill would fall to $70/month + taxes because you paid off the phone. This in contrast to a 2 year plan where the bill would remain the same.

The phone itself costs $27.08/month x 24 months = $649.92. Wireless Phone Protection Insurance costs $7.15/month total cost for 24 months = $821.52. $13 less than Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. You can alternately opt for the Total Equipment Coverage that also cover lost, stolen, or post warranty defects for $9/month.

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4 responses to “AT&T Next vs Verizon Monthly Device Payments vs Apple iPhone Upgrade Program vs Apple iPhone Payments”

  1. Nicholas Fasolt says:

    Very nice summary of the three plans, this will surely be helpful for a lot of people! However, there is one little mistake: You omitted the $57 tax at time of sale from the final total’s shown for the AT&T Next and Verizon Edge phones, but included in the Apple total.

    The price of the phone itself, by which I mean just the hardware, is practically the same for all three plans (if you keep it for the full duration of the contract!), and it comes out to be the practically the same as if you were to buy the phone outright at full price at the time of purchase.

    Here’s the math for a 16GB iPhone 6S plus. (all are $57 tax, so that’s excluded, and this is not including insurance or AppleCare Plus, it’s just hardware over the payment period.)

    Cash Outright: $649

    Apple Finance: $32.41 installments x 24 = $777.84 – $129 AppleCare = $648.84

    AT&T Next: $32.50 * 20 months = $650

    Verizon Edge: $27.08 * 24 = $649.92

    So, the price for the phones is more or less $649 no matter how you slice and dice it. If you add in a coverage policy, then the Apple Plan is actually the cheapest. However, that’s only because at $129 the AppleCare Plus costs less than the insurance polices from AT&T and Verizon cost over their respective contract periods.

    So, unless someone wants to upgrade early, the question customers have to ask themselves is “do I want to pay more for insurance and a higher deductible that covers theft/loss, or less for AppleCare plus with a lower deductible that does not cover theft/loss?”

    Now, if you plan on upgrading early, then it’s best to go with either the Apple Financing or Verizon, since they distribute the price of the phone equally across 24 months. With AT&T, you’re distributing the price over 20 months but can’t upgrade until month 12, at which point you’ve paid for more than half of the phone. So, if you’re on AT&T and want to upgrade early, it’s better to go with Apple Financing. If you don’t want to upgrade early, it really doesn’t matter.

    It’s also worth noting that it’s better to finance the phone in all cases, than to buy it outright because of inflation (the payments stay constant but the value of the dollar will have decreased by the end of the contract). It’s also worth noting that if you do not want AppleCare plus, you cannot use the Apple Financing plan.

  2. Dolores Johnson Adams says:

    I don’t have any credit but i own a 2015 Honda Fit, a home in Hesperia, have a checking account and a guaranteed steady income SSA-widow benefits for life. My credit was wiped clean because of an error from BofA. Took 8 yrs to finally figure out what happened and where to write to have it erased from my credit. So it looks as tho i’ve never had any credit and im 62 yrs old.

  3. emerson says:

    What about the Verizon deductible if you opt for insurance? What does it start at/does it decline?

    • norman says:

      Verizon charges from $9 a month per number for Total Equipment Coverage. You have 30 days from purchase or upgrade to enroll.

      A $99 to $199 nonrefundable deductible varies and depends upon the device model for each claim. Two replacements in a 12-month period with an equipment maximum of $1500 per claim

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