What Are These New Phone Plans???

phonesIn the U.S,. three of the four major carriers are now offering a plan that allows you to get a new device more frequently than the standard 2-year contract time frame. This sort of reminds me of the lease vs buy conundrum when you are getting a new car.



Under is a comparison for the major carriers in the U.S.  Costs are based on a 16GB iPhone 5.  Note that these figures do not include carrier service.





Upfront costNoneNone$145.99
Number of payments




Eligibility for upgradeAfter 6 months if 50% of phone is paid forAfter 12 monthsTwice every 12 months.  1st upgrade after 6 months.
DevicesPhonesPhones, tabletsPhones, tablets
Monthly cost




Total Cost




Trade at 6-month intervals (4 phones in 2 years)


Not available


Balance at end of 2nd year



Trade at 12-month intervals (2 phones in 2 years)




Balance at end of 2nd year




After you upgrade, the remaining unbilled installment payments on your ‘old phone’ are waived.  Note, however, that when you upgrade, you have to trade in your current device in good and functional condition or you will be responsible for the remaining balance.  You also need to purchase a service plan.

If you are certain that you will upgrade more frequently than every two years then one of the plans above should meet your needs.   Sometimes the decision of what carrier is not just about cost.   If you end up keeping the phone for two years without trading it in, you could have done so with a standard two-year contract, purchasing a subsidized phone for $199.99.


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About the Author

Judy Novotny

Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.