With AT&T and Verizon getting in on the smartphone upgrade competition, T-Mobile is kicking its program up a notch with what it's positioning as a back-to-school promotion the carrier hopes will give it the edge.
T-Mobile is dropping the upfront price on its entire lineup of devices in stores nationwide to zero dollars down. That means qualified new and existing consumers and small business customers can buy smartphones, tablets, feature phones and mobile hotspots without putting a penny down on the deal.
Who's Jumping Faster?
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, an independent wireless analyst, to get his views on T-Mobile's latest push. He told us we are in the early stages of the latest one-ups-manship battle in the wireless world.
"T-Mobile started, AT&T Mobility came out one week later with a better deal. Then Verizon jumped in with their deal," Kagan said. "At that time I said T-Mobile will likely jump in with an even better model than their first. This is it."
Kagan is referring to T-Mobile's Jump, AT&T's Next and Verizon's Edge programs. Let's take a quick look at each one.
As Kagan noted, T-Mobile was the first to bat with its Jump program. The program's only hitch is you have to be enrolled for six months before you make your first trade in. T-Mobile is positioning the new deal as a way to give customers "total protection" for their smartphones in case they malfunction, sustain damage, or get lost or stolen -- or they just want to upgrade to the latest device. T-Mobile is charging $10 a month, just $2 more than what most customers already pay for handset protection alone.
AT&T one-upped T-Mobile with a program that lets customers get new smartphones or tablets every year with no down payments, no activation fees, no upgrade fees and no financing fees.
Dubbed AT&T Next, the new offer rolls out today. Here's how it works: Customers pay monthly installments for the devices they select. After 12 payments, they can trade them in and upgrade to brand new devices or they can keep using their devices. After 20 monthly payments, the devices belong to the consumers free and clear. And there's no penalty for paying off the installment plan early.
Finally, Verizon looked for an edge of its own in the emerging upgrade pricing plan war with Edge: Choose the phone you want and sign up for a month-to-month service plan. The full retail price of the phone will be divided over 24 months. You'll pay the first month at the time of purchase.
Every six months, as long as 50 percent of the cost of the phone has been paid, you can upgrade to the newest basic mobile phone or smartphone available. There are no long-term service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees with Verizon Edge. Verizon Edge will be available to customers on Share Everything plans starting August 25th.
But Wait, There's More!
Meanwhile, Sprint is noticeably missing from the conversation. Of course, T-Mobile's zero down plan is not permanent, but the carrier did not offer any timeline on when the deal would end.
"Right now the deal battles are between AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. The good news is, the customer wins," Kagan said. "If we had a slogan for this battle it would be, but wait, there's more!"