AT&T has announced its Next program, which allows users to grab a new device annually without a down payment, then make monthly payments on the device much in the same way one leases a car. After the 12 months have come to an end, that device can then be turned in for a different device, or can be kept with additional payments.
Under the program, current customers can choose either a tablet or a smartphone every year sans various fees, such as an activation and upgrade fees, as well as eschewing a down payment on the device. There's a contract with the program, which requires the subscriber to make payments for 20 months if they choose to keep the device rather than trade it in for a new one.
AT&T Mobility's President and CEO Ralph de la Vega said: "With AT&T Next, customers can get the newest smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. That’s hard to beat, and it’s an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year." The program is open to those who are eligible.
According to the carrier, the monthly device charge will range from $15 to $50 per month, depending on which device the user selects. AT&T used the Samsung GALAXY S 4 as a specific example, with it costing customers $32 monthly. Using that example, if someone chose to keep the device and make payments on it for 20 months, the total rate would come out to $640 USD.
As such, the program will certainly appeal to some, but will end up costing more in the long run in some instances, considering that a two-year contract and the device subsidization that comes with it will only be four months longer than the 20-month period, making it more financially sensible, but perhaps not as convenient for those who don't hang on to devices for long.