Upgrade Your Smartphone At Any Time With T-Mobile: With A Few Catches

Early upgrade programs have been the hot trend in the phone business in the last few years: while carriers want to get out of the subsidized handset business, they realize that customers want a way to get the shiniest new handsets without paying the hundreds of dollars that those handsets cost at retail. T-Mobile now wants to put even newer and shinier handsets in customers’ hands through a change to their Jump program.

We’ve questioned whether early upgrade plans are a good deal for consumers, and the answer is that it depends on how often you like to upgrade your phone, and what kind of voice and data plan you have.

T-Mobile’s plan, called Jump, disconnects the handset purchase from your rate plan entirely, which was revolutionary two years ago. Now all of the major carriers have followed T-Mobile’s lead. The new variation, called Jump on Demand, is a slightly better deal… as long as you wanted to buy one of a few higher-end smartphones in the first place.

First, you have to buy one of those flagship phones mentioned above: as of this writing, eligible devices are the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and the LG G4. Customers on this plan have to make monthly payments for 18 months, then can trade in their phones.

After the 18 months, customers can walk away from T-Mobile as long as they pay off the remaining balance. Otherwise, they have to upgrade to a new phone using the Jump or Jump On Demand program. If they upgraded before the 18 months were up, the clock would have started all over again.

The On Demand version eliminates the thing that we didn’t like about the original Jump program: the extra $10 monthly fee that includes phone insurance. If you prefer to have insurance, you can get it by paying extra, but it’s not a mandatory part of the early upgrade program.

T-Mobile will let you upgrade your smartphone anytime you want [CNET]