Unfortunately, another carrier has done away with its early upgrade cycles. AT&T has followed in the footsteps of Verizon and has extended the upgrade period to 24 months. This aligns with the carrier’s standard two-year wireless contract length. Like Verizon, AT&T is setting a pretty fair cut-off date for those who are due early upgrades ahead of a certain time. That date is March 2014, meaning you’ll be subject to the new upgrade cycle if your current agreement expires during that month and any month thereafter.
It’s another unfortunate move in a string of sour ones from the nation’s biggest carriers. We’ve seen loyalty programs dissipate into nothingness, ETF fees bloated beyond belief, the death of unlimited data, and more all within a few short years. Those on Sprint and T-Mobile have had it the easiest to date, though with the way things have been going I wouldn’t assume anyone is safe for much longer.
I should note that AT&T does still offer an early upgrade incentive for those who are at least six months into their contracts. You’ll be able to get a sizable discount off the full retail price of the phone if you extend your contract by another two years. The discounts won’t typically be as much as the subsidized two-year contract prices, but it’s better than nothing if you find yourself jonesing for a new phone.
Let us know if these new changes are affecting you, and be sure to express your distaste (or, in the oddest of cases, satisfaction) for these latest changes in the comments section below.