AT&T Flaship Chicago Store

When Verizon makes a major plan or policy change, AT&T is typically right behind it. And vice versa. It happened with share everything plans, and the phasing out of unlimited data. There’s like an unwritten rule or something.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that just two months after Verizon took away its 20-month upgrades, AT&T has followed suit. Folks on two-year contracts will now have to wait the full 24 months before upgrading…

Engadget just received what looks to be an internal AT&T memo that discusses the policy change. The new policy starts today and it affects new customers and existing customers whose contract expires after March 1, 2014.


Previously, AT&T customers on two-year contracts, with accounts in good standings, would be allowed to purchase a new phone at the subsidized price every 20 months. But it looks like that’s over, and it’s a full two years now.

Unless, of course, you meet certain criteria. Fortunately, AT&T isn’t taking away the ability to qualify for an early upgrade. And you can still trade-in your old phone toward the purchase of a new one, depending on its condition.

There’s no explanation given for why AT&T has decided to change its upgrade policy, but I’m not sure that we need one. It seems pretty clear that this is where most major US carriers are headed, outside of maybe T-Mobile USA.

It’s just a shame that it had to happen now, a few months before Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone.

Mad? Us too. Feel free to join us down in the comments below to talk about it.

  • Erik

    God damn it AT&T… You just had to copy verizon on this crappy policy..

  • Jeremy

    My contract expires in December so it doesn’t really affect me as of yet.

  • ricky_nguyen

    So two year contracts are pointless to sign up for since now they are making people who are on new and/or existing contracts to wait until basically their contract is over with in order to upgrade to a new phone. I believe whatever decisions Verizon makes AT&T has to be the copycat and follow them in changing their policies around to screw out customers from upgrading early.

  • Matt

    Should be 12 months… Now I’m gunna have to pay a lot to upgrade for a new iPhone if I don’t wait

    • Gorgonphone

      used ones that are clean will be damn near retail price now too..

  • Cody Cutrer

    On the upside, they can no longer get you in to a new 2 year contract before your contract is expired, so more freedom to go T-Mobile 🙂

  • Gorgonphone

    loolooll the value of a used clean EMEI iPhone 5 just went up again…omg this is great i will never pay for an iphone agin

  • Gorgonphone

    thi sis also fine for me because i am skipping the lame 5S and waiting for the 6.. and my upgrade will also be ready..

  • F P


  • Jim Hart

    Screw you AT&T. I went to Straight Talk and won’t ever be coming back. $48.92 for unlimited talk, text, and “data”. Plus, I can drop it whenever I want. Why don’t you follow that policy, AT&T?