Over the weekend, Verizon confirmed it would be making some major changes to its upgrade policy in several areas. For starters, upgrades will no longer be issued after 20 months on the standard two-year contract. Instead, you’ll have to wait the full 24 months before you can buy a new phone at subsidized cost. This throws a big, nasty wrench into the upgrade plans for many people who have been used to the 20 month cycle, and there is reason for many to be upset.
The first people this change will affect is those whose contracts are set to expire in January 2014. Verizon’s giving users another course to take — buy your next phone off-contract. Many people were already planning on doing this for the sake of keeping grandfathered unlimited data, but those who can’t bear to wait those extra four months might want to take this undesirable approach. Thankfully, Verizon will be allowing users to take advantage of a new device payment plan policy starting April 21st.
According to the company’s blog post on the matter, the payment plan will allow users to buy select devices for full price ahead of their upgrade date by tacking the cost of the phone onto the monthly bill over a 12 month period. Those who decide to go this route won’t get the benefit of a cheaper contract ala T-Mobile’s new UNcarrier plans. This is sensible for those who are still on the hook for their most recently subsidized phone, but those whose two-year contract obligations have expired will obviously have a problem with this.
We’ll be reaching out to Verizon to see if we can get more details about the new payment plan and the list of devices that will be available ahead of the program’s April 21st start date. Those changes aren’t the end of it either. For starters, all new-every-two credits will expire after today. Users lost the ability to earn new credits over two years ago, but were allowed to hold onto existing credits for use whenever they wanted. That means you’d better have an upgrade right now and be willing to buy your new smartphone today or risk losing the credit forever.
Finally, Verizon has tweaked the rules for sharing device upgrades with other users on your line. You can now only use shared upgrades for devices within the same category. For instance, the upgrade for your phone-enabled line can be shared with someone if their device is a phone, but not if it’s a tablet or hotspot device. There isn’t a ton of good to take out of any of this, but Verizon’s heart seems set on the changes and history shows it’s hard to get Big Red to change its mind after it’s made up. Stay tuned for Phandroid as we continue to chase more details regarding the device payment plan.