AT&T Follows T-Mobile Into The Early Upgrade Arena With “Next” Installment Program

Shiny and new. If you're into that.

Shiny and new. If you’re into that.

Not one to be left behind when competitors start announcing new features, AT&T is touting its new “Next” installment program, which will allow customers to get a new phone once a year — for a fee, of course. This, days after T-Mobile debuted its JUMP system that charges users $10 per month and allows for two upgrades every year.

AT&T Next launches July 26, and will let customers buy a new smartphone or tablet once a year without a down payment. You agree to 20 monthly installments when you choose the program, but can trade in your phone for a new one after 12 months. The 20-month clock starts over again at that point.

In essence, it’s an installment program which could be useful for anyone who can’t afford a big upfront price but wants a new device. you’ll have to trade in your phone after 12 months, or keep paying for it for 20 months and then the device is yours forever.

Unlike T-Mobile’s flat $10 rate, Next’s monthly fees depend on which device you’re using. You end up paying the full cost of the device, just spread out over a few months. This could mean a fee of $15 for one phone, up to $50 for the most expensive available.

T-Mobile’s program also works as phone insurance, but that isn’t the case with Next, AT&T explains in the FAQ: “You’re also responsible for any loss, theft, or damage to the device — both during the installment agreement period and after. We recommend you purchase the optional Mobile Insurance to protect your investment.”

If you’re low on cash but obsessed with shiny, new things, this might be up your alley.