AT&T (building logo 001)

Well that didn’t take very long. Just hours after a report surfaced regarding Verizon’s plan for a new device upgrade program, AT&T announced a new upgrade plan of its own. It’s called ‘AT&T Next,’ and its description sounds awfully familiar.

The AT&T Next program will allow subscribers to purchase a new smartphone or tablet every twelve months with no activation, upgrade or financing fees. The catch is, they’ll have to make monthly payments equal to 1/20th the device’s retail cost…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cC9zG1MgTLs

From the press release:

“With AT&T Next, customers purchase a smartphone or tablet with no down payment and agree to pay monthly installments for the device. After 12 payments, they can trade it in and upgrade to a brand new device — again with no down payment — or they can keep using their device and have no more payments after 20 months. AT&T Next is available for new AT&T customers or existing customers who are upgrade eligible.

“With AT&T Next, customers can get the newest smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. That’s hard to beat, and it’s an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility.”

It’s hard to say whether this will work out to be a better deal for customers or not. 1/20 the price of a 16GB iPhone 5 would be $32.50, and 12 payments of that equals $390. So essentially AT&T gives you $260 for the 1-year old device—not exactly eBay grade.

But the fact that the new plan will allow subscribers to upgrade every year might be a big enough deal to entice customers. I know that I’ve upgraded to the new iPhone every year since the 3GS came out, so I can definitely see that aspect appealing to gadget lovers.

Oddly enough, like Verizon, AT&T was moving in a completely opposite direction just a few months ago, canceling early upgrades. But it seems the attention T-Mobile has been getting with its ‘Uncarrier’ campaign, and new ‘Jump’ program, caught its attention.

AT&T Next will be available for any current smartphone or tablet in AT&T’s broad selection of devices, and it looks like it is scheduled to kick off on Friday, July 26. The monthly installments are interest-free, and range from $15 to $50, depending on the device.

What do you think about AT&T’s new Next upgrade plan?