Comparing device upgrade plans: AT&T vs Verizon vs T-Mobile

By , Jul 18, 2013

carrier vs

Last week, T-Mobile unveiled ‘Jump,’ an ambitious new upgrade program that allows subscribers to pay $10 per month for the chance to upgrade their devices more frequently. At the time this hadn’t really been heard of, as most carriers were on a 2-year upgrade model.

But that changed almost immediately after T-Mobile’s Jump event. Just a few days later, AT&T introduced its Next device upgrade program, and this morning, Verizon made its Edge offering official. So what’s the difference between all of these options? Let’s take a look…

We’ve already done the math on AT&T’s Next plan, and it’s not that great of a deal. Monthly payments equal to 1/20 of the device’s retail cost, on top of rate plans with built-in subsidy charges, means you’ll pay almost full retail for a device in 12 months and not get to keep it.

Verizon’s new Edge program works in a similar fashion, but the device’s retail cost is spread over 24 months. So you’ll pay about $28.08 per month for an iPhone 5, again in addition to roughly $20 of built-in subsidy charges, and you have to trade it in at the 6 month mark.

Confused? Here, the folks over at MacRumors put together this great chart to help explain it. It breaks down the different device upgrade plans for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile based on what device payments would be for a 16 GB iPhone 5 owner upgrading after 12 months.

early_upgrade_plan_comparison

As you can see, T-Mobile comes out substantially cheaper—over $100 cheaper than AT&T. This is due to the fact that it has completely decoupled handset purchases from service charges. By not including built-in subsidies in its rate plans, it makes them far less expensive.

So which one should you go with? Casual customers will likely see any one of these offers as an economical way to upgrade more frequently. But those who run the numbers will see you’re better off paying full retail for a device and selling it yourself when you’re ready to move on.

What’s your take on all of this?

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  • Chindavon

    And the average consumer is going to understand all of this?

    • Guest

      You can’t read a chart?

      • Chindavon

        Key word is “average” d-bag. And the “average” consumer won’t be seeing this chart. Try again.

      • Rohan Rashid

        i agree the people wont understand the new programs. I can see this becoming a failure

      • Viktor_Zweig

        And I agree that you commented just to say something…

      • Joseph

        Their fault for not researching the plan to see if they’re getting a deal like an average consumer should. Try again.

      • Chindavon

        I surely hope you’re not running anyone’s business.

      • TeddyBearStand

        I think you’re looking for “below-average.”

      • Chindavon

        No, below average would be your gramps still using the rotary phone.

  • ronmora

    I also like the Premium Protection added with T-Mobile’s Jump program

    • Kurt

      what’s premium protection?

      • ronmora

        insured for accidental, theft and loss

      • Kurt

        That’s great, I thought it was separate.

      • Eric 420

        screw that just pay for a squaretrade warranty. They rock.

    • Richard Borkovec

      No one ever seems to point that out: T-Mos plan comes with protection and insurance, along with the early upgrade.

  • Fahim

    I would be willing to pay extra for Verizon’s amazing LTE coverage. AT&T only benefit is that it is GSM and has more LTE coverage that T-Mobile.

  • Bj Bennett

    I think it’s a great idea I hate being stuck with a phone for two years. It’s like leasing a phone and as quick as they are obsolete I would pay 30 a month to keep the best technology

    • James

      Buy better phones?

      • James

        By the way, I don’t support two year contracts, I’m just saying I don’t think any of these plans are worth losing my unlimited data.

      • Bj Bennett

        I only by the best but the best keep coming

      • James

        Haha I hear ya.

  • pauleebe

    AT&T screwing over customers?

    Well aren’t these uncharted waters …

  • Gorgonphone

    over complicated BS

    • Joseph

      I don’t see anyone else having trouble making sense of it.

      • ReanimationXP

        You’re blind then. This is intentionally deceptive to consumers by hiding prices in monthly plans in order to make the on-the-surface initial charge and upgrade longevity seem better.

  • Kareem Michel

    My contract with AT&T needs to hurry up and end so I can jump on that T-Mobile bandwagon

    • ReanimationXP

      Just pay the term charges.

  • Danibal59

    terrible, would have been a good idea if it was like $10 extra dollars a month, but this… just terrible

  • James

    All T-Mobile is trying to do here is steal customers from AT&T and Verizon, while AT&T and Verizon are just trying to get people off unlimited data.