Getting on Next right now could save you over $100, but it still isn't a good deal.

In an attempt to gently nudge customers towards giving its new "Next" payment plans a try, AT&T is offering newly lowered monthly payments on some of its hottest devices. AT&T Next, if you'll recall, is a payment system that spreads the full off-contract price of the device over 20 months and offers upgrades every 12 months if you return the device.

Popular devices like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One were previously going for their full $32.50 or $30 per month, respectively, but have dipped down today to just $27 per month each. That means that if you plan on paying off the full device over 20 months you'll pay a just $540 for the devices, saving you $110 or $60 off normal retail. Other devices like the LG Optimus G and Optimus G Pro are just $17 and $20 per month as well.

We can't imagine that AT&T is interested in offering these deals forever, and this seems to be the case as AT&T has confirmed to Engadget that the pricing is promotional. 

Whether you pick up a device with AT&T Next now during the promotional deal or afterwards (no set end date has been put on the deal), you still may want to double check the math before you sign on the dotted line. As we've covered before, these payment plans may not offer the great savings they claim.

If you do understand the terms and want to jump in, now's the time to save a little money.

Source: AT&T; Via: Engadget


Reader comments

AT&T drops 'Next' pricing on some devices for a limited time


You're just renting the device, in effect. On these plans you're just renting with the opportunity to "buy" it after 20 months, which gives you the "freedom" of moving on to a new device after 12 months.

I completely agree I worked out the numbers for one device and it came out to $60 off plus you have to give the phone back. Wth. Although I guess you would save more because they wave the activation fee. Still horrible pricing.

You Guys aren't getting it. You don't have to give it back unless you want a new phone before you pay it off. If you get a new device at 12 months you've only paid a bit more than half the price. Verizon's plan is a bit better than at&t though. With vz you pay over 24 months and can upgrade every 6months with half the device paid off. So basically you pay around 300 for the phone instead of 200. But upgrade every 6 months. Sounds pretty good to me.

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You don't get it either. Both the Verizon and at&t deals don't make sense when you're still paying for a subsidized phone in your monthly service fee while also paying almost full retail for it. You're paying for 2 phones while you only get one.......oh and by the way, you have to give it back when you want another unless you opt to pay the whole thing off. MAJOR RIPOFF

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i was just at att and i read up on this.. you own the phone after 20 months of payments.. and you end up paying less than retail.. you dont HAVE to give the phone back.. and they basically just give you another phone every 12 months if you choose you want a new one and you keep paying the monthly amount for that phone.. a s4 right now on the next program will run you $100 less than full retail

No, you don't end up paying less. The monthly access fee has the device subsidy built in... so, you are always paying off the device in monthly installments. If you you choose to not go on this plan... your monthly access plan is $27 less. So, for the privilege of owning the phone in 20 months.. as opposed to 24, you get to pay an extra $540. If you think this is a good deal, then you are bad at math.

There is a fundamental flaw with these sort of plans that many already understand, but I'll cover again for you. On AT&T, there is no discount if you own a phone fully(buy at the full price or have bought your phone on contract and then have gone beyond the 2-year period). Next has the idea that you are basically buying the phone for the full price, and then are just paying it off over a 20 month period.

Since the actual monthly service plan does not change based on how you decided to buy your phone, here is the breakdown:

If you pay $100 per month for regular service(talk time minutes plus data plan, texting, etc.), then we see the following examples:

Buy a phone on-contract, call it $200 with 2-year contract. Then the $35 upgrade fee. You go for 24 months after that, so $2635 is what you pay in total(24x100+200+35).

With Next, you pay nothing up front, but $27-$35 per month for 20 months, and the $100 per month service fee. So, you pay $540 for the phone, and are still paying the $100 per month. So, $2540. If you want to upgrade early, you trade in the old phone and start again, or you own your phone at the 20 month mark, but still get no discounts in phone service costs to make this an actual benefit. Note that is based on $27 per month. Upgrading early is no benefit, and there is really no cost benefits over the 20 months in general.

The T-mobile plans have basically put in a reduced price of service, which is offset by payments you make toward buying the phone(paying it off). So for a T-mobile user, it actually does make a bit of sense, lower service fees, but you end up paying monthly for your phone(buying the phone at full price). AT&T does not do this, so there is no benefit to Next.

If I missed anything, please let me know, but for the most part, you save NOTHING with Next. If you buy your phone on contract, after a year, you can just sell it on e-bay, generally for $400 or more once you unlock it), and you now can just pay an early upgrade fee to get your next phone, or pay the ETF to get out of your contract(keeping your service), and then get a new end up ahead on the deal. Next saves you nothing except the initial money you put down, and if you get a "free phone" on contract, going to Next is clearly a bad deal.

I honestly dont know much about this whole next thing so I apologize if this starts some kind of back and forth but I am asking out of genuine curiosity.

While I can see how you are not saving money in most instances with Next it does seem like it might make sense to take advantage of if you are around 6 moths (maybe a year) out from your contract being up. You would pay a little bit more than paying out right in the end but it would allow you to get a phone from ATT whit out resigning your contract then after a month or tow you could just pay it all off so you dont end up paying so much in the extra fees.

Or would that not work?

Or put $ 27 a month into a savings account and when you want a new phone sell you current one (not give it back) and buy a new phone with that money and the interest you've earned

^^ This! This is the financially responsible thing to do. People would not go into debt if they simply paid cash for everything. If you can't pay cash for it upfront, you can't afford it. But I understand when it comes to stuff like this, it's hard to keep yourself from picking up a new device.

Their are only a few things we should really go into debt for. A house, car, and education. Everything else should be paid upfront!

Yeah. I can say, from experience, that it's not worth financing a car. If anything, drive something cheap, save your money up, and then go out and pay cash for what you want. You avoid all of the ridiculous financing fees, that way.

While I agree with you in principle, that really isn't an option for everybody though. Given the importance of a vehicle to most people, and the inability to just plunk down that much cash all at once, let alone save it up, financing is the way they go. The financing costs are the sacrifices you make to get what you want now -- but financing a car is a lot more justifiable than some of the other things that get financed by people in this day and age.

You're absolutely right. And, that's not to say, that financing a vehicle is fiscally irresponsible. My situation calls for me to have as little revolving debt (not zero, just little) as possible.

I completely agree, with your last sentence.

You guys sound like you've taken the Dave Ramsey course before..

His motto is "Live like nobody else... So you can live like nobody else.."

Love his courses.. You can learn a lot from his Financial Peace University Course..

You I guess you should live on the street. Wouldn't want to go into debt over that house you can't afford.

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Is it so hard for people to do simple math and see how crap this pricing still is? Get your phone for full price and take a plan from a company like T-Mobile who charges less if you get your own phone. Want a new gadget? Sell your current one, put some money on top and buy at full price again. Be free from this carrier crap.

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I meant amen. But seriously screw this carrier crap. Everyone needs to buy unlocked phones and go to their carriers and demand lower pricing. This subsidized crap is sooooo outdated. Nexus 4 owner, couldn't be happier!

I'm all for taking a device to another carrier such as T-Mobile, but can I get (not so sure I need) LTE speeds? Just a question..

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Feel so sad that you don't even know T-Mobile has lte . Really you are reading android central and don't even know that much? Wow no wonder carriers keep on screwing.

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Well, if you're part of the half of the country that has T-Mobile LTE, yes. If you're part of another quarter of the country, you can get HSPA+ speeds that beat Verizon and Sprint LTE and that nearly match AT&T LTE.

T-Mobile says, jump to the phone you want by giving us your old phone and starting over on payments.

AT&T says, who's the NEXT sucker in line.

Verizon says, let's push our customers to the EDGE of stupidity.

Sprint....., hadn't said a word.

The moral here is if you can't be the best at the game you play, be smart enough not to play the game.

Posted via my themed "WHITE DRAGON" LiquidSmooth Sprint GSIII.

Just because Sprint hasn't said a word doesn't mean they aren't contemplating their own plans on this new format of sales. If there is money to be had in it, Sprint will definitely do it.

Who cares? A dollar doesn't make up for the fact your still double paying by paying for the subsidized price already included in your bill pluss the monthly payment plan so who cares? Why is this even news?

AT&T is the one ripping off their customers here. Verizon's I'd actually not an entirely bad deal, because you pay a portion of what the phone costs, and one you've paid hand the phones value in at least six months, you are no longer bound to your two year agreement. T-Mobile has the best deal also because their rate plans are much cheaper. I'm not paying Verizon for one of those Screw Everyone plans.

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I think most people miss the fact that you CAN get a tablet on a payment plan, as well as a phone. Try that with T-Mobile

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That's true. It's being billed more as a phone program but I wonder how this applies to tablets.

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No need to try... We buy what ever device for full price and pay less for the plan. Really you are defending the rip off carrier prices?

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You guys just don't get it. AT&T Next and VZW Edge aren't meant to SAVE ANYTHING. These plans are meant for people who want to GET A NEW PHONE BEFORE 2 YEARS. Of course they're not going to reduce their service prices for it.

Regardless... It's still cheaper to buy a phone outright and sell it after 6 months or (before it loses too much value) and buy your next (new/like new used phone) phone. Paying monthly on top of you're already overpriced service plan is absolutely ridiculous.

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