ANALYSIS: How New Phone Upgrade Plans Stack Up

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) —

In just over a week, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon Wireless have announced device upgrade plans.

These plans are all designed to let eager tech users get new phones more quickly than they can with traditional plans, which typically require them to wait out a period of two years.

But despite having a similar end goal, each plan works differently. Here’s how they compare:

EXCHANGE PERIOD: If you want to be able to change your smartphone often, then the plans offered by T-Mobile and Verizon are the better choices.

T-Mobile’s Jump plan lets users get a new phone twice during the span of 12 months. They can do so by trading in their existing device and paying a down payment each time they want to upgrade. Customers must wait at least six months before their first upgrade.

Verizon’s Edge plan also lets users get a new device every six months, but it also requires that users trade in their device and have paid for at least 50 percent of it.

AT&T’s Next plan, meanwhile, requires that users wait a year before trading in their smartphone for a new one.

DOWN PAYMENTS: If you like putting things off and would rather not pay a down payment, go with AT&T. The company won’t bill users for the plan when they sign up. Instead, users will be charged their first monthly payment at the end of the cycle.

Verizon said it will charge users their first monthly payment when they sign up.

T-Mobile, though, has the steepest up-front payment. It charges users a down payment each time they get a new device, which is $100 for many of its phones.

MONTHLY PAYMENTS: When it comes to monthly payments, there is no clear winner.

T-Mobile said it will charge users their regular monthly payment and another $10 for the Jump plan.

AT&T’s monthly payments can vary a great deal depending on the device. The carrier said payments can be as low as $15 or as high as $50.

And Verizon said its monthly payments are determined by taking the retail price of a smartphone and dividing it by 24.

AVAILABILITY: T-Mobile Jump is the only one of these plans that is available now. AT&T Next will be available July 26, and Verizon Edge will start Aug. 25.

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