Worried by the slowing rate of smartphone upgrades in the U.S., three major wireless providers have announced new plans that will enable consumers to upgrade their smartphones in as little as six months after signing. So, what's the catch? Well, there are a few. Here's a rundown of the three new plans:
T-Mobile was the first provider to introduce an annual upgrade plan (an acronym for Just Upgrade My Phone). It's the only one of the three providers that requires an initial downpayment on the device, and also requires you to pay a $10 monthly insurance fee in order to participate in the program (good news for the clumsy!) Then you pay the rest of the retail cost of the phone over a 24-month period, but you're eligible to trade in for the newest model twice a year.
Cost over six months for a new Samsung Galaxy S4 with service, according to TechHive: $670.
AT&T was the second in line, with a plan that spreads payments over a 20-month period. AT&T also makes you wait an agonizing twelve months before you can upgrade (seriously, does new smartphone technology even come out that fast?)
Cost over six months for a new Samsung Galaxy S4 with service, according to TechHive: $702.
Verizon was the lastest to announce its plan Thursday, which will allow users to spread the cost of a new smartphone over 24 monthly installments. For every six months within that period, you'll be able to upgrade to the latest smartphone available, as long as you've paid for at least 50 percent of your last phone.
Cost over six months for a new Samsung Galaxy S4 with service, according to TechHive: $702 (plus the $163 remainder of the half of the first phone's original retail price if you want to upgrade)
The Bottom Line: Nothing comes for free. If you're saving on a device with a two-year contract, you're paying the cost down the road in your monthly fee and vice versa.
Sure, if you're a total tech addict, these plans are cheaper than buying a new smartphone every six months at the retail price. But let's be real: buying a brand new smartphone every six months is kinda crazy, not to mention wasteful.
These plans claim to save you from contracts, but if you back out of their service you'll be forced to pay off the large remaining retail cost of the phone. Finally, all of these plans make you trade in any old phone that hasn't been paid for in full in order to get a new one, so there's no selling your phone on eBay or handing it down to your little sister.
Probably not worth it.