AT&T recently announced a new early upgrade program for customers on an AT&T installment plan called Next Up Anytime. This program, set to launch on July 16th, comes with a monthly fee of $10, which is higher than AT&T’s existing $6 per month Next Up add-on. However, it offers subscribers the flexibility to upgrade their smartphones after just one installment payment, with the option to do so up to three times per year.

The new Next Up Anytime add-on differs from AT&T’s older $6 monthly Next Up add-on in that it allows customers to trade in and upgrade their devices after only 33 percent of it is paid off. This means that customers on a 36-month installment plan can potentially upgrade after the first year, without having to pay off half of the device as required by the previous program. While this may seem like a convenient option, customers opting for early upgrades under Next Up Anytime will not be eligible for upgrade promotions and will have to pay the full price for a new device. Additionally, they are limited to three upgrades per year.

When AT&T first introduced its monthly fees for annual upgrades in 2013, concerns were raised about the potential for these plans to become a ripoff due to the sliding scale of installment fees. While the flat rate of the new Next Up Anytime program simplifies the payment structure, it still remains a costly endeavor for individuals who frequently swap out their on-contract phones.

To put the program into perspective, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario: an AT&T customer who purchased a Google Pixel 8A in May and is dissatisfied with the lack of a telephoto lens. By upgrading to the Galaxy Z Fold 6 in August (assuming it will be announced next month by Samsung) and subsequently switching to AT&T’s Next Up Anytime add-on, the customer could proceed to upgrade to the Google Pixel 9 (assuming an earlier release date this year), followed by the iPhone 16 in September, and then the Samsung Galaxy S25 in February. While this may seem like an enticing proposition for tech enthusiasts, the financial implications of such frequent upgrades should not be overlooked.

Overall, AT&T’s Next Up Anytime program offers customers the convenience of early smartphone upgrades but comes at a premium cost. Individuals considering this option should carefully evaluate their upgrade frequency and weigh the associated expenses before committing to the program.

Tech

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