More and more phone carriers are introducing new payment models to pay for devices along with their usual subsidy systems, and perhaps soon to completely replace them. T-Mobile was the first in 2013 and since then we’ve seen emerging models from Verizon with the Edge program and AT&T with Next. Under these options, instead of signing a 2-year contract for an initial discounted price on the phone, customers will pay off their phones with a monthly fee and, depending on the carrier, possibly a discounted service fee.
Monthly fees are, of course, dependent on the overall cost of the phone. A 16GB iPhone 6 will have a lower monthly installment fee than a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus. This cost is added on top of your service fee which, depending on your carrier, may have an additional discount. AT&T’s Next program discounts customers 15$/month and Verizon’s Edge early upgrade program discounts $10/month.
Some of the new programs also allow you to upgrade earlier than usual after paying a minimum number of payments and assuming you trade-in your previous device (in working condition) toward your new one. For example, AT&T has several different options ranging from 12-24 installments before you can upgrade. This way, it’s generally between 1- and 2-years if you’re following a simple monthly payment system, but with the option of paying extra installments early if you want to upgrade sooner. This allows customers to upgrade when they want, say for every iteration of the iPhone or Galaxy series, while giving them a clearer sense of the actual costs of the expensive smartphones they’re purchasing.
For too long it’s been a misconception that phones are just $99-199. In the phone repair industry it’s very common for someone not to want a repair because they can “just get a new phone for $100″ when that’s near impossible if you’re still tied to your contract and have a relatively new smartphone. An iPhone 6 may be $199 with a new contract, but it’s still a $650+ phone at retail price. It’s not the customer’s fault necessarily since it’s just the way phones have been marketed for years and not everyone is as up on the tech and business side of the industry as a repair shop that literally works with the ins and outs of phones would be, but hopefully this move from carriers can help people pay for phones the way they want, allow people to upgrade when they want, and also help people understand that repairing a phone is cheaper than getting a new phone 99% of the time.
Next week we’ll talk about insurance costs vs. repair costs!