AT&T Next Upgradeable vs 2 year contract Smartphone Plan Review


Last update: 9/21/2018

The transition from 2 year phone contracts to AT&T Next installment plans

AT&T Wireless announced that the 2 Year Contract is ending January 8, 2016. New and Existing Customers will only be able to buy phones using the Next Installment Plan after this time. The move from the long time 2 year phone contract that included hardware and the plan, to separate the plan from the phone started in 2016.

AT&T logo

AT&T created a new wireless phone plan in July 2013 called AT&T Next Installment to address the needs of customers who want to upgrade to the latest and greatest Smartphone every year. Normal 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.

AT&T Next vs 2year plan

AT&T Gives you up to $650 in credits when you switch.

BuyVia's AT&T Next Plan review shows that the Plan is a lot more advantageous than expected and maybe better than the normal 2 year contract, even if you do not perform the upgrade! 68% of iPhones sold in the 2nd quarter of 2015 were on the AT&T Next Plan.

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.

The 2 year Contract is Costly

Two year contracts have been the norm in the US for years. If you wanted the latest phone, you would typically pay $199 and sign a 2 year contract. The phone's cost was heavily subsidized. A typical phone costs $649, so $450 was baked into your monthly bill.  The problem is that after you finish paying off the phone in 2 years, your monthly bill would not fall. This makes it a BAD deal if you do not upgrade to a new phone after finishing your 2 years.

Prior to 2015, most people upgraded their phone within 2  years. With smartphones becoming more mature and features less worth the upgrade, the number of months before upgrading to a new phone will pass 26 in 2015 and approach 30 in 2016.

With the new installment plans like AT&T Next installment plan, you pay for the phone every month and once paid off, your monthly payments decrease. There is no interest charged.

Upgrading early with a 2 year Contract

With a traditional 2 year contract, a user wanting to upgrade to a new handset would have to pay the following:

  • $325 Smartphone early termination fee
  • $299 or $399 instead of $199 for the new phone
  • Another 2 year commitment

This was a steep price to pay, hence the Next Plan was born.

If you are a good customer, nearing the end of a 2 year Contract, AT&T sometimes lets you upgrade to a Next plan before the full 2 years are up, usually at the 18 month mark. Call them to ask if you qualify.

AT&T Mobile Share Plan

In 2016 AT&T Wireless rolled out the new Mobile Share Advantage plan with more data for less money. It also added no overage charges, speeds will slow to a crawl after you hit your limit. This plan clearly shows the hidden costs of 2 year contracts.

  • An allotment of of data costs $30/month for 1GB, $40 for 3GB, $60 for 6GB, $80 for 10GB,..

Costs for each Smartphone line

  • $20/month if on Phone is on AT&T Next or Paid
  • $40 a month if Phone is on a 2 year plan

The 30 month plan is now known as AT&T Next. The 24 month plan is now AT&T Next Every Year. The Next 20 month plan was delted in 2016.

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.

The Next plan allows users to upgrade every year without incurring penalties. There is always a catch, so we will examine the plan 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 sign up for.

75% of people purchase their phone from their wireless carrier, instead of buying direct from Apple.

AT&T Next Plan Overview

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

  • Get a new Smartphone every year - 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 lasts for 24 or 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
  • 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

AT&T Next Every Year Plan for iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7

We will list out the charges due when you setup a Next 24 month Plan for 2 of the most popular Smartphones on AT&T Wireless.

iPhone 7 32GB or Galaxy S7 32GB with Next Every Year Plan. Full price is $649. This allows us to upgrade after one year. The S7 may be slightly cheaper.

Amount due at Sale:

$20 Activation fee

Sales tax on full value of phone $60 in our area.

Total due at time of sale: $80 - This is the main advantage!

AT&T Monthly Plan:

$27.09/month installment charge for iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 for 24 months

Mobile Share 3GB with unlimited talk and text

$40/month + $20 Device Access Charge = $60/month – this is $15 cheaper than 2 year plan.

Total due each month: $87.09

Amount paid after one year:

$87.09 X 12 months = $1045  + $57 Sales Tax = $1102.

You can now get a new Smartphone if you wish.

Amount Paid to fulfill Next contract: (24 months)

$87.09 X 24 months = $2090+ $57 Sales Tax = $2147

iPhone 6 or Galaxy S7 value after 2 years, is now roughly $250

Surprise – this is $75 more than normal 2 year plan over the same 20 months!

True premium over 2 years is $165 for the AT&T Next Plan when compared to traditional 2 year.

First two years of Smartphone Ownership:

Year 1: iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 $1102

Year 2: iPhone 7S? or Galaxy S8? $1102

Total cost for 2 years: $2204

$75 per year premium over 2 year contract to get the latest phone

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

After fulfilling your phone's installment plan (24 monthly payments in the case of Next plan), your bill would fall to $60/month because you paid off the phone and you now own it. This in contrast to a 2 year plan where the bill would remain the same at $70. Both plans have the same monthly bill after contract fulfillment.

AT&T 2 Year Contract for iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7

We will list out the charges due when you setup a Standard 2 year commitment for 2 of the most popular Smartphones on AT&T Wireless.

iPhone 7 32GB or Galaxy S7 32GB with Mobile Share. This allows us to upgrade after two years.

Amount due at sale:

$45 Activation fee

$199.99 for the Smartphone

Sales tax on full value of phone $60 in our area.

Total due at time of sale: $199.99 + $60 Sales Tax + $45 activation fee = $305 - A lot more than Next Plan

Monthly Plan:

Mobile Share 3GB with unlimited talk and text


Total due each month: $70.

Amount Paid to fulfill contract: (24 months)

$70 X 24 months = $1680 + $199.99 + $60 Sales Tax + $45 activation fee = $1984.99

iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 value after 2 years is now roughly $250.

Surprise – This is Less than Next Plan when looking at full contract fulfillment and 24 months of use.

First two years of Smartphone Ownership:

Year 1,2: iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 $1981.99

Total cost for 2 years: $1981.99

You are ready to get another phone finally!

After 2 years your bill would remain the same at $70/month even though you paid off the phone, but Next would drop to $60/month. It takes 5 months to make up the difference.

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 on AT&T
  • If you want to have the latest Smartphone every year
  • You don’t sell your Smartphone after fulfilling the contract
  • If you like the shorter 20 month contract
  • If the 20 months brings you closer to an Apple (September) or Samsung (February) release date

AT&T Next Plan Conclusion

AT&T Next Installment Plan adds 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, this Next plan is a no brainer.
  • If you are interested in a shorter 20 month contract, the Next Plan is also the way to go.
  • If you plan to hold onto you phone for 2 years, the traditional 2 year plan is $75 cheaper.
  • Both plans cost about the same after about 2 years, 8 months.

Do you have a different opinion of this AT&T Next Plan review or a suggestion?

Please leave a comment below.

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63 responses to “AT&T Next Upgradeable vs 2 year contract Smartphone Plan Review”

  1. Gerald says:

    Well I look at it as a strong arm tactic. For a person who don’t upgrade every year it’s really not worth it, instead of paying $200 or whatever, now you are paying for the phone the complete price as if you were buying an unlocked phone. AT&T is advertising the family plan four phones for $160 great plan, but what is not being told if you go to that plan and want a new phone you have to do the next plan no two year plan is offered.

  2. Tom says:

    As of September, 2014, the Next Plan ends up being $0.99 cheaper over 20 months for the IPhone itself. As long as I pay the full 20 months (and not upgrade at 12 months and lose ownership). Then I also save $25/month because I don’t sign a new 2 year subsidized contract. That’s $600 savings over 24 months, and the subsidy is only $450. Also upgrading to the Next Plan, I also won’t have to play the $40 activation plan!

    I have three lines, so I can just upgrade to a new Next 12 Plan every two years on alternating lines and always have the latest iPhone every year for $190 less than the subsidized plan and $40 less than if I just buy the iPhone outright.

    The best part, I DON’T turn in my 12 month iPhone for a new one, I own it after paying the exact same as the full cost after 20 months and keep it or sell it (at anytime), and still have the latest and greatest iPhone on another line for every year.

    Remember, I’m paying $15 per line instead of $40 per line (if I went with the subsidized contract) on the mobile share plan. That’s $25/month savings = $600 over 2 years, that is more than the $450 subsidized discount.

    The Next Plan was a Rip off last year, but with the $25/month discount this year it’s worth it. It’s even $40 less than buying the iPhone outright unsubsidized because there’s no $40 activation fee. (I do believe I would have to pay taxes on the extra $450 upfront so it STILL turns out to be $13 cheaper!)

    This is all based on the $100/month mobile share plan for 10GB Data/month and $15 for each line. The iPhone I am getting is the iPhone 6 Plus 128GB at $949 unsubsidized. But the phone doesn’t matter in this case as long as the subsidized discount is $450 and the increased monthly bill is $25 per line, all the above is still valid.

  3. Tom says:

    I’m adding a correction to my above post. I would save the full $40 by going with the Next Plan than paying for the iPhone outright because I don’t have to pay the $40 activation fee.

    My mistake was thinking I would pay extra cost on the taxes, but no, I’m still paying the $57 ($949 x 6%) tax upfront either way. Going with the subsidized plan I would pay $450 x 6% less tax, but $150+$40=$190 more over two years. So it’s an overall $163 savings over two years and I’m never on contract and own the phone outright either way.

    • John says:

      but with the next plan you don’t own the phone, at least with a contract you have something for your money after it is all said and done

      • norman says:

        You own the phone after you’ve finished your Next plan, before then, it is AT&T’s property.
        You can pay off the phone in full after 3 months.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Help Tom! I’m so confused, I’ve had three different Att agents tell me various things. I have 4 iPhones , and 2 iPads on my account. One account can have an upgrade with the two year contract. They told me if I used the upgrade, I would lose the discount on that phone with the new contract, and be paying a higher rate than doing the Next plan. Ugggggg, they always get us one way or another, and then they keep changing everything to further confuse us. Two of us want to upgrade. Should I do the contact or Next plan? One of us would have to wait until January, which is not a big deal. Would love someone to help me with this dilemma.

  5. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for any advice!

  6. Al says:

    This plan requires GIVING AT&T your phone when you upgrade. That doesn’t seem like a good deal to me. If I paid for it I should be able to keep it or sell it.

  7. Adam says:

    Tom is obviously an AT$T employee. I love how his first post is very long, winding, and full of “personal” experience. Then it’s immediately followed up with a “correction.” AT$T employees as well as the general public don’t understand the value in this plan because there is none for the consumer.

  8. Gee Gee says:

    I agree with Adam, Tom works for at&t. He broke down the next plan, just like I heard when i called At&t on 09/10/2014.

  9. kathy says:

    would like to know which carrier is best in the buffalo, NY area and want to know if the att next plan is costing more than the 2 year contract

    • norman says:

      In our article above, we showed that Next good if you upgrade your phone often. It is also good if you do not. You end up paying a lot less right away.

      • Ruth Elizabeth Gundle says:

        At&t told me that if I bought on a contract, even after the 2 years, the plan monthly price would not drop–it used to, by $15–but no more. That’s what I was told. Are you saying that you believe by calling you can get them to drop it, once the contract term is up?

        • norman says:

          You got correct information. If you sign up for a new phone using AT&T Next, you would pay less each month after 2 years, because your phone’s installment plan would be paid off.

          • Ruth Elizabeth Gundle says:

            but I thought you said in your post that once paid off you can call them to get them to lower it. Or by threatening (or actually, if it came to that) moving to another company.

            Are you saying that buying it outright is a better deal? I’d do the 2-year contract happily but I don’t like the idea of not getting a break once it’s paid off.

  10. Robert says:

    With AT&T, the price does fall even if you bought a contract phone. They don’t continue to charge $40/month on an out-of-contract phone. So for example, on the 10GB datashare plan, it’s $15/month for a line with an out-of-contract phone or $40 in-contract. When your contract is up, it falls from $40/month to $15/month (drops $25).

  11. Stacey says:

    Apparently you have to use the AT&T next to get any kind of discount. signed a 2 year agreement with my new upgrade. I know I paid for the phone up front and was charged my upgrade fee, which is fine, but since I did it this way, my bill is an extra 30.00 a month since I signed a 2 year agreement instead of the next plan. He said it was for the plan and not the phone. You would think they would be happy that I signed it. I will NOT renew another phone with them

    • norman says:

      You always have 14 days to return a phone if it does not work out. Smartphone plans are some of the most cryptic agreements out there.

  12. Maria says:

    Where do I begin… So, I visit my local AT&T store in Miami decided to change back from TMobile after hearing of the $150 credit offered for porting my number. I was advised that the credit only applied if I went with the AT&T Next program. Ok, no big deal after calculating the cost of the plan & phone over a 2 year period it was beneficial to go with the the Next program. The rep processes my information and advises me that I wasn’t approved for the Next plan but I was approved for the contract $0 down + $40 activation fee (not charged on the Next program)… Ok, I asked what the credit criteria was, as I have a 738 beacon and no late payments, verifiable and stable income for the past 15 years. Good enough credit to qualify for the most favorable rates with creditors yet not good enough to finance a device? I called customer service and they could not provide any specific information regarding the criteria. The supervisor did mention that the AT&T next plan is primarily for current customers and new customers don’t usually qualify??? Really!!! SO THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS: DO NOT GET PLAYED BY AT&T!!! THEY PREFER THAT I RETURN THE IPHONE 6 WITHIN 14 DAYS (THEY’LL EVEN WAIVE THE RE-STOCKING FEE)INSTEAD OF ADMITTING THAT THEY ARE MISLEADING PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS.

  13. Adam says:

    The worst service I have ever received. Went in to upgrade my phone and was told I was eligible for a free upgrade. Paid the taxes for the phone there and was told it was mine. Two months later I started to get charged installment fees for the phone, saying that I signed up for a 30 month payoff period. Spent hours arguing with customer support to be told I only had 2 weeks to change, even though I was lied to and didn’t find out about it for months. As soon as I pay off the installment I will leave AT&T and never look back, I recommend all current customers do the same.

    • norman says:

      Sad to hear. My local AT&T factory stores are so busy that you definitely need an appointment. When added 2 new phones, we had to come back several times to ensure our plan was setup correctly.

      Moral of the story is make your changes, then check online the next day to see if your plan is right. Do not take it for granted.

  14. Mike says:

    One of the major things this article fails to mention is taxes. When the cost of you phone is subsidized the cost for the phone is made up in plan charges, these are taxed at 18% If you purchase the phone you only are paying local sales tax rate which is usually much lower.

  15. Eric says:

    I have been with AT&T for a long time. Ever since the old Cingular Wireless days. I have always done the 2 year contract. What people dont realize is that you had a 2 year contract, but you would notice that after 18 months, they would let you upgrade and start a new contract. They might not do that anymore since the Next plan stuff came out.
    And also people dont realize that your monthly bill on a 12 month NEXT plan is expensive. Yes, I get that you can get a phone in a year. But wow, you pay a high monthly bill and then in 12 months after a new phone..Ya still pay that high monthly bill.
    And one more thing…People say that after your 2 year contract is over, you still pay the same monthly bill and you dont get the price dropped like you would if ya used the next plan. But all you have to do is call AT&T after your contract is up and tell them to drop your bill since you own a phone now. Simple concept.
    Right now I own a LG G2 phone. I go into the store to try upgrade up to a LG G3 phone. My bill now is $55 a month. I walk in and she is pushing me to get the cheaper 30 month plan because it is cheaper right. but no, it was going to raise my bill up to almost $80. Ok $80 and I am getting a new phone. Well how much is it if I do the 12 month plan I ask. Well come to find out, I dont remember the exact amount, but it was going to be like $120 a month. Now consider this is the full bill cost with taxes and of course the Phone Insurance cost.

  16. Jane says:

    AT&T sucks!!!!! Next is a scam!!!! Hate how they rip off the public!!!

    • norman says:

      I will not disagree with the first remark, but why do you think it is a rip off? The final cost is very close to 2 year plans. AT&T still offers the 2 year plan, while Verizon stopped for new customers.

      • Sanaa says:

        I really don’t understand where you guys are getting this info. It’s completely illogical. Your phone bill is your phone bill and no matter where or how you get your phone you still have to pay that bill. This idea that next is somehow cheaper or that the contract is “baking” things into the bill is just crazy. As I said before, I pay $30 for unlimited data, $20 for unlimited text/m2m, $39.99 for 450 mins and taxes. My bill is $96-98 each & every month. There is nothing baked in there. And no matter what, I will have to pay that. The only thing that has changed is that we are all now being forced into paying $650 for a phone that used to cost us $299. The contract/discount trade-off has been gutted. The whole thing is BS.

        • norman says:

          Congrats on your plan and hold on tight, the problem is that folks have not been able to sign up for that for several years. People are reading this trying to figure out whether to do Next or 2 year plan. If there is a flaw in the math, tell me so I can fix it.

          AT&T has brought back a higher cost Unlimited plan, but only if you also sign up for DirecTV. You can look at the specifics here

  17. Renea says:

    Just went to an ATT store. I don’t like the idea of the Next plan, just seems like there is a big hidden catch. But the Clerk said after December 2015 no one will be able to get 2 yr contracts anyways. You have to use the next program. So if you want to stay with Att and you are eligible For next, I recommend next. They are willing to drop your last four months of your contract. You save money off your 2yr contract and get an upgrade. If you wait til after dec, you are forced to switch regardless. Looks to be the Best option unless you leave ATT

    • norman says:


      You have it exactly right. 2 year contracts have disappeared at Verizon unless you are renewing, so AT&T is next.

      The Next plan is not that bad. Look at our math, your final result is about the same. The bigger piece to not to over pay for too much data and take advantage of promotions like 15GB of data at the 10GB price.

  18. hkdkat says:

    What happens to folks on grandfathered unlimited data plans who also have A-list? I’ve always bought the phone subsidized on a 2 year contract. With my company discount I pay approximately $92/mo. I also give my last version phone to someone else when I get my next one. So, will I be able to keep my data plan, not pay any more than I currently do and keep my phone on Next? AT&T is really the only service that works well for me wherever I go.

    • norman says:

      You can buy another phone on AT&T 2 year plan and keep the unlimited data.

      • Roy says:

        So is this still correct? I have a grandfathered $35 unlimited plan and want to get the new iPhone come Sept 2016, am I still allowed to do a 2 year contract on it or will I have to get an ATT next plan? Because from my math, I am screwed either way because now instead of paying $299 for a new phone (w/2 year contract), I will have to pay $749 or whatever the price is or do ATT next?

        So I guess what I am asking is can the people who are grandfather with the unlimited $35 data plan still get a 2 year contract this Sept when the iPhone 7 comes out? Thanks.

        • norman says:

          2 year plans are going away, AT&T currently has them only on Tablets. Installment plans like Next are here to stay.

          You really want to decouple the phone from the plan, so you can switch carriers easier.

          • Roy says:

            A couple of questions about this…

            1) What exactly would decoupling do? Wouldn’t I lose my $35 unlimited data then?

            2) So regardless, come Sept and I want an iPhone 7, I am going to have to pay $750 or whatever it is if I want to keep my unlimited data? Thanks.

  19. Mike says:

    If you are like me, and re up every 2 years to get every other Galaxy S6 for a dollar, then the contract still makes sense. This year however, things could be more difficult, as my go to store, Sams Club, or Costco I believe only do NEXT plans. And I believe Sams club no longer carries ATT…see what happens…

  20. Esherm says:

    Okay,so I’ve been told multiple things and have been trying to figure this out for a while. I’ve been with att since I got a cell phone 12 years ago. I always keep them the full 2 years (or 18 months) required before upgrading. I’m in a course with an att employee and was told they have to keep the contract as an option because not everyone qualifies for the next program, which makes sense. I tried speaking to a sales associate at the local store and was straight up LIED to about upgrading my phone. I went in to ask specifically about the plans and told him I would be purchasing my phone online as I always have. I was told, “well, you’ll have to wait for it to ship and you still have to pay taxes on the phone.” Sure…but, I always get last year’s model for free. He tried telling me that that’s not a new phone then, it’s a year old! I argued with this man for 15 min. about the fact that sure, the model of phone is a year old, but the phone that I’m receiving is still in the original manufacturers packaging and brand new! I would much rather get a phone for free than get the brand new one with a single new feature and pay $200 for it!! He also tried telling me that I would still have to pay taxes for the full retail price of the phone if I ordered it online! I asked,”Taxes on a free phone, I don’t think so?” In my case, the att next program makes zero sense. I’m not interested in getting the latest and greatest when the free model from last year works just fine! As I mentioned, I’ve been with the company for 12 years and now I being charged more for my plan because I want to stay with the company. Questionable at the least!! Wondering if there are any other options as it sounds like the other big providers are doing the exact same thing! Let me know if there are any suggestions!

    • norman says:

      With a 2 year or ATT Next plan, you will pay taxes when get the phone. You are taking delivery of the phone, so you have to pay sales tax. If you pay zero for the phone, it doesn’t matter, the phone is worth say $649, the price of the phone is either baked into the 2year contract or paid monthly with AT&T Next.

      If you do not like AT&T Next, sign up for another 2 years before AT&T kills it. Verizon killed their 2 year plan for new customers months ago.

  21. Will says:

    I been reading varying and interesting posts here. Always had 2 year and free Brand new but *older* phone models. Well i been reading up on Next and it sounds interesting to me. No activation, no fees, hidden charges, pick even an iphone with zero down!!!(which i always wanted to test drive!) Always been Android. New edge samsung is $349.00 upfront on 2 year contract!!! I am not a young college type hungry for the latest, but, everytime i get the free new but older model smartphone, i seem left in the dust in a short time (tired of it!) It is 2015 and I still have Note II…😕
    Now, if I am correct, with a transition to Next from 2 year, the $15 discount on my 3gb plan could help cut the cost of the $27 iphone s6 plus cutting it to just $12 extra…my mom is on my plan and says she loves her samsung galaxy 4 s, the phone clerk told me she will get a $15 deduction at her contract end in Jan 2016… more possible savings. Yes, i was told this last week! So, just maybe? The Next Plan isn’t the Troll that many think it is…? Just saying….😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

    • norman says:

      Will you are right on. Cell plans are always a mystery, most of the time we sign up and wait for the first bill to see what it looks like.

      The switch from 2 year commitment to installment plans like AT&T Next definitely cause folks worry.

      The key to remember is that they are trying to detach the payments on the phone from the plan itself. This is a good thing. We can price each independently.

  22. Ken says:

    I chatted with AT&T several times and your statement was wrong:
    “The problem is that after you finish paying off the phone in 2 years, your monthly bill would not fall. This makes it a BAD deal if you do not upgrade to a new phone after finishing your 2 years.”

    After the 2 yr contract is done, the $40 line fee goes down automatically to the normal fee of $25.

    • Gwen Kalvelage says:

      My understanding today when I went into AT&T is that after the 24 months of paying for the phone, they drop the charge down to $10 for the line.

    • Chris says:

      Completely Agree !! While there are those who prefer to change their mobile device yearly, there are people who have no need for the latest and greatest phone able to be had. Lets be honest, unless your completely disappointed in the service a carrier gives you, how many people would jump carriers every year or two ? Not many I would imagine, however, with this “Next” program you the customer are paying three times what the Device use to cost you and still remaining a customer to the carrier.
      At $27 a month for 2 years (provided you stay with them) = $648 or after 1 yr $324 .
      The old 2yr contract would have been roughly $199 for the same phone and you owned it from the beginning.
      Again , how often will a person be inclined to change carriers … ?

  23. leeshin says:

    very useful post, thank you for sharing

  24. Erik says:

    A couple developments worth monitoring as we try to get our arms around these changes…

    1. Today AT&T announced 2yr Contracts will no longer be offered past Jan 8 2016.

    2. I am grandfathered Unlimited Data – AT&T sent a notice of $10/mo fee increase to keep it.

    Not sure of Next vs Contract yet. Thanks for the discussion – it helps.

    • Clay says:

      I got the same but showed $5 a month increase per line. Is yours t
      $10 for one?

      • kyle says:

        I got $5/mo to keep unlimited. I’m on an ancient family plan from the mid 90’s (Cingular) that is $160 for 3 iphones unlimited. I have no idea what this new change means for the family. I know they really want us to get rid of our ancient plan. Perhaps if we can all hang on to our iphone 6’s or buy off ebay we can keep our plans. I don’t know.

        • Beto says:

          You CAN keep your 2 year contract still, just call 611 from your phone press 0 two o three times at the prompts or follow the instructions to get a live representative. Ask to be transfer to costumer service and tell them that you want to keep your 2 year contract, they call it ” loyalty program ” All still the same. Basic iPhone 7 32 GB $ 199.00. + tax

  25. danielvhenny says:

    thanks for the smartphone plan review .really amazing

  26. Sanaa says:

    This writer has to be a schill for AT&T because this article is full lies & shifty math. This idea that the this next plan is saving money is BS. I upgrade every other phone, so every 2-3 years. I have paid the upgrade price (either $199 or $299 depending on storage) and been done. Everything I paid after that is called, The Bill. Nothing was “baked” into it, it was just the bill $30 for unlimited data, $20 for unlimited text/m2m, $39.99 for 450 minutes + taxes. My bill is $96-98 each and every month. The idea that being forced to pay $25 over two years is cheaper that the $299 I would have paid is ridiculous and then forced to hand over an old phone that Apple pays $200 to AT&T for nothing is stupid. So basically AT&T is just doing away with the upgrade pricing and calling it some other BS name. The next program is a crock and force shoving it down peoples throats is a bad move on AT&T’s part. If we are expected to pay full price for the phone what incentive does anyone have to stay with them as a carrier? None.

    • Brian says:

      Thank you Sanaa. I spent 30 minutes arguing on the phone with a moronic att rep because she claims that att did away with the 2yr contract years ago and how much more money I could save with this awful new next plan. I explained to her: my monthly bill is $95 for unlimited everything and every two years I could pay $200 for the newest upgraded phone. That equals $200 extra dollars every two years. She INSISTED that their ripoff next program of 25$ per month/$600 per two years would be cheaper than what I’m paying now. $600 is 3x more than what I paid on a 2 year contract!!! I am so confused I don’t know who is training these tards in the att stores but they insist that $600 is less than $200.

  27. Sam says:

    How is this a deal for a person who doesn’t want to upgrade their phone every two years? Personally I rather have a contract then pay over 700+ for a phone.

  28. Rocky Dean says:

    What u pay is the retail price of the device, mine cost (to keep) $800.00 not including the 40.00 month i paid because it wasnt on the main line. Thats a kick right there. I keep all of mine though. If i stay with ATT, the wiser choice is to trade but its a huge waste of money. Either way really so Im going to begin buying unlocked. Its a win win. Good luck to all.

  29. Roger luper says:

    So after paying for the phone for so many months and having it almost paid off I can get a new phone by trading the one in that is almost paid off and start paying on a new phone all over again but what happens to the money I’ve already paid on my phone? It’s wasted and I start all over? Or does that money go towards my next phone?

    • norman says:

      The money you paid is not credited towards the next phone. If you are almost paid off, the best bet is to wait till you pay off the phone, then get a new phone on Next. You can then sell the old phone or give it away.

  30. Peggy says:

    If I had upgraded in December I would have got a free phone. Now that same phone costs me $600.00. Next plan is just a scam to get more money out of people. It is NOT a good idea.

  31. Sara says:

    I bought my iPhone 6 128gb in October 2014. I upgraded my phone and renewed my 2year contract and replaced my iPhone 4. I paid the upgrade price for my phone and basically owned it the minute I paid for it. I’m looking ahead and thinking about what to do when my contract is up this October. I’m confused with this new “no contract” crap. So basically, I will need to pay for a phone month to month at the regular price since there is no upgrade discount on the phone anymore. I will probably have to pay retail price of $600+ for a base model iPhone 7?? This will have to be paid through installments. Once I’ve made all of the installments then I own the phone and can sell it if I want or do I have to turn it in to be eligible to upgrade to another phone 2years down the road? This is the part that is confusing me. I understand that if I don’t finish paying it off but want to upgrade I can do so but will have to turn in the phone… What if I pay it off the moment I buy it? I don’t want to make payments on a phone. I want to pay out right and upgrade in two years.

  32. Aaron says:

    Ok, so from my understand of the 2 year contracts was that you have a discount when you are out of contract. Essentially, your free from contract and it’s an elincentive to stay. And it’s like $15-$20 a month… So with the 2 year plan the “baked in” of paying for your device is the fact that you’re not receive out of contract benefits.

    Essentially, we’ve been paying for the phone the entire time. There’s no way att or any carrier is going to just give anyone phones listed at $650 for $200. Not possible. The only differed now is its up front. You are seeing exactly what you’re getting and have the option to play with what that installment is.

    With a 2 year contact you “owned” the phone and had a two year contract for a reason: you had to pay the damn thing off. As soon as the contact was up for the line, you received and out of contract discount.

    The only benefit to this, in my opinion, is if you frequently upgrade your phone. It allows you to pay 50-80% of the cost of the phone and “upgrade” to a newer one. You never full pay for a phone outright. In my opinion, they result in the same thing, one is just more transparent of your costs and we haven’t gotten used to it. It’s like when airlines were forced to I’ve you real prices a few years back. You realized, in the breakdown f airfare, that the cost of the ticket was only $109 but the flight with fees and government taxes made it come to over $500.

    One think I don’t like is the term “upgrade” in the next program. It’s not an upgrade. This terminology, I think, is outdated and doesn’t fit within the context of this system. Essentially for $25 a month you can get a new phone every year. So you’re constantly paying for a phone, but you can get a new one when you want without all the hassles.

    In order for them to accommodate consumer needs, I think it was their only option to make it more transparent that yore paying for you phone outright. That and recent changes in carrier services and equal access to data and such within the law.

    I think it’s great in terms of term flexibility and transparency of charges, really. It’s not surface coated with 2year contract enticements. Makes you second guess how much you really want that new phone.

  33. Steve F says:

    This is a good article because it really describes the only way to know if you are getting the best deal; you have to do the math and calculate the costs for the various options.

    The comparison in the article is for the current plan ATT offers. If you have a grandfathered plan the numbers will be different, so Next may not make sense.

    I DO NOT trust ATT. Twice a rep on the phone has gotten me to switch plans (once for cellular, once for home VoIP) by misrepresenting the cost I’d be paying. e.g. not mentioning the price they were quoting was a 3 month special and my rate would go up. So shady. So check your invoice for the real story.

    I am thinking I will go with next (it’s basically 0% financing) and when I’m ready to upgrade I’ll pay off the phone (no prepayment penalty) and sell the phone on ebay.

  34. Scott says:

    Here’s the problem I see. No one can explain to me why my wireless bill will not decrease, if this “Next” plan is such a good deal for the customer. Why doesn’t my wireless bill decrease at the end of the 2-year contract period? It’s going to stay the say, and I am going to have to pay full retail for a new phone?

    If they were going to decrease my wireless bill when I paid full retail, I could see the quid pro quo. But this is nothing more than a scam by the wireless companies preying on the public.

    Unless someone can clearly explain why it’s to my advantage to pay full retail on a phone…AND pay the same amount of money for the wireless I was paying with the phone baked into the contract.

    • norman says:

      Your wireless bill will decrease after you fulfill all your installment payments.

      It is really simple. Decouple the phone from the plan.

      iPhone 7 costs $650 if you pay upfront. $650/24 payments over 2 years = $27 a month. After 2 years, you won’t pay that extra $27 a month.

  35. Ryan says:

    Here is what everyone is missing. It’s up to the individual and what suites your needs. Cell plans are just what they are. I am on the AT&T next plan. And no I am not an employee. I currently have the iPhone 6+. I have payed now $25 for 22 months. This equals $550. On the phone alone. I can go to AT&T today and upgrade to the iPhone 7+ here is the catch you are all missing. Because I was on the 30 month installment and haven’t met that term yet. I would have to pay $100 upgrade fee, then give them my phone that I have already payed $550. You get nothing in return for it. AT&T will resell or write it off to insurance. Making more money. I then buy the iphone 7 at $800+ dollars either outright or on installment + sales tax on new device. AT&T gets over $1700 and keeps you as a customer and you get a new phone. Hmmmmmm tell me how the consumer benefits from that?

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