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AT&T's Next 24 plan gives customers 30 months to pay off their smartphone

AT&T will give its customers an even longer amount of time to pay for their new smartphones with $0 down. The newly unveiled Next 24 plan will allow those folks to take 30 months to pay for their device in monthly installments starting on November 9.

The wireless carrier will still offer its Next 12 and Next 18 plans as well, which gives customers 20 and 24 months, respectively, to pay for their smartphones. As with the earlier plans, the new Next 24 system will allow folks a way to upgrade to a new smartphone if they bring in their current one after 30 months in good condition.

The upside is that customers will pay less per month for their smartphone under the Next 24 plan. The downside is that it will take six months longer to upgrade to a new device under Next 24. AT&T also announced that starting today, anyone who switches to the carrier and activates a new line of service with a smartphone on AT&T Next will get a $150 bill credit.

Which would work better for you: Smaller monthly payments or a faster way to upgrade to a new smartphone?

Source: AT&T (opens in new tab)

58 Comments
  • debt is slavery.
  • So true... Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • seriously. I understand financing a large purchase like a car or house, but a phone!
  • But the difference is the phone does not carry interest like a car or house.
  • Good point. Although you can easily get a car with no interest or .9 if you have good credit
  • But the world doesn't live on that kind of credit. This is the same across the board no matter who. Who don't have to "finance" when you can pay it off at any given time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • And there is no pre-payment penalty. You can lower the balance down over a few payments then simply pay it off when the payoff amount is more in line with your budget.
  • Which is why China owns USA Posted via the Android Central App
  • China owns 1/16th of US govt debt. Think they own a significantly smaller part of the land mass. Posted via a Nexus (Socialist, yes. Group discount, no.)
  • They are the largest nation holder of US debt next to Japan and trickle down from there. Fact is the only thing America holds is a dick in his hand. Posted via the Android Central App
  • myth.
  • Yes, myth Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thank you for that. Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Meh, it's really not bad since it's zero interest. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So could you could get the phone for $0 down, sell it for cash, invest the money wisely and come out ahead? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't think any reader on a tech enthusiast website would want to stay with a phone for 24 months LOL Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't think this is aimed at us Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I might stay with my Nexus 5 for 24 months. Not interested in Nexus 6. I'm skipping it. Considering the Nexus 5 is still being sold a s current model and I'll enjoy Lollipop from day one. But to your point I do hope that a Nexus 5 (2015) comes out in the Spring when the 64 bit Snapdragon 810 comes out.
  • I think I can stick with mine for that long. I tend to only replace things when they need replacing. For my first two phones that was 18 months. I bought the N5 in February this year. So far so good... We'll see. I'm expecting Lollipop to boost it, though it's mighty fine as is. Posted from my Nexus 5 via Android Central App
  • Lol, ssshhh. But if I make payments for a year, the payoff on my phone is down to $290 (doable in my personal monthly budget). You only have to give the phone back if you upgrade early BEFORE paying it off.
  • So the Next 24 takes 30 months to pay off, the Next 18 takes 24? Who came up with that? Slightly confusing anyone.
  • Those are the time in months when you can upgrade.
  • Still idiotic. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed, especially compared to JUMP! Posted via the Android Central App
  • 30 months to pay it off and own it outright or 24 months to turn it in for a trade in and start a new Next commitment. Look at it like 30 months to buy the car or lease it for 24 months and get a new one. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't think you have this right. The phone is paid off after 20/24/30 months, respectively. But you can *upgrade* after the amount of months in the name of the plan. Next 18 customers can upgrade after 18 months, Next 20 after 20, and Next 24 after 24. The catch is that you give the phone back (think of it as them buying back the difference), and you're stuck on a neverending cycle. But if you like to upgrade, that isn't really a problem.
  • You're correct, except there is no Next 20, probably got them crossed yourself because the naming is a bit convoluted. Upgrade time: 12/18/24
    Payoff time: 20/24/30 So Next 12/20 - Next 18/24 - Next 24/30 I think it's a great plan for those who upgrade every 2 years and have the Mobile Share Value Plan. If you don't have a contract, you save $25. So if spreading it out 30 months equals less than $25,its worth it. Take the LG G3, it would be 19.50 per month. This also makes sense for most people who are already used to a 2 year cycle.
  • Woops, thanks. I also think it makes sense for people who like a phone that has a predictable release schedule. Not popular around here, of course, but say you're buying the new iPhone everytime. The Next 12 and Next 24 would seem to make much better sense than a Next 18, since with the 18 you're going to end up paying for another 6 months until the next release anyway. Sony buyers, on the other hand, might go with the 18 and get a phone every 3 cycles, etc.
  • Technically speaking, isn't this just a 3 year contract? Posted via the Galaxy Note 4
  • Lol... That's what I was thinking Posted via Android Central App
  • 2 1/2 years. ....a slave. New movie from AT&T coming soon to a carrier near you. Posted via the Android Central App
  • meh...
  • You're not contracted to keep the AT&T service. The only contract is that you agree to pay-off the phone within the allotted time (20/24/30 months). If, for example, you decide to cancel your AT&T service after 15 months, you have to pay off the difference for your phone and it's yours to keep. Also, there's no early termination fee that comes with the 2 year contract.
  • Only on the phone itself. You can leave the service when you want with no ETF. You of course would have to pay off the balance of your phone (which sort of amounts to the same thing - though the figure is less arbitrary).
  • Just get t-mobile Posted via the Android Central App
  • Some people enjoy having consistent service Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dont forget t-mobile also lies about having more network capacity than verizon and att.
  • No I am pretty sure that is correct, they have the capacity. Connecting at 2G is the problem Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • T-mobile does have the highest data capacity. Speed is a measurement of time, has zero to do with data capacity Posted via the Android Central App
  • And hasn't someone already done the math on this? Besides being able to get the latest and greatest phone every year/18mos...there are no real savings in doing any of these AT&T next plans unless you have a minimum of a 10GB/mo data plan. And at that point... I believe one is barely breaking even at that point versus a 2 year contract. Plus what happens if I take my phone for swim accidentally before the payment period is over? You're still paying for the phone. Posted with my trusty Galaxy S3 via the Android Central App
  • It's much better than breaking even. Let's calculate the LG G3 If you're on the 10gb plan or higher the service charge per phone goes down to $15. If you're on the 2 year it's $40. Calculating that $25 difference this is what the phone will look over a period of 24 months. Cost: $580 + tax = $619.73 (depends on state)
    That's what you end up paying 2 year cost: $200 + tax = $213.70 + upgrade fee of $40 = $253.70 + $25 difference over 24 months ($600) = $853.70 So not only will you pay a lot more upfront on the 2 year plan, you end up paying over $200 more than what the phone is really worth.
  • I still hate it... (*sarcasm*) The problem here, is that people look at their own lives, and then judge others using that standard. I could never afford a Note 4 without the NEXT plan. I like it. It helps me budget the cost of the phone, and it keeps me hooked. After 20 months, I walk in, hand them the phone and walk out with whatever new one I want. Most likely at the same or similar cost. Sure, I am technically paying for the device, but the cost sort of disappears into the bill. No having to cough up $300 up front. It only costs me the sales tax. Completely painless the second time around.
  • Another debt in life to incur? No thanks, I'd like to think I make enough to pay off a cell phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This! And if you do not make enough, get a flip phone.
  • ... and example of an idiot who cannot imagine that their are other people in this world living other lives. I got a flip for ya, and its not a phone.
  • Did I read this right? You make payments for the phone and then you have to turn it back in to upgrade? So you really don't own the phone? I did not know this. Is this standard on the Next plans? Not a deal for me if this is the case.
  • If you pay the 30 months then you keep the phone. Or if you pay the 24 months and want to upgrade right then, you will give the phone to at&t. You can also pay the phone off at any time, so if you pay 17 months, you could pay off the phone, keep it and then upgrade again if you want. Posted via the Android Central App
  • OK, that's OK. At least you have the option if you want to trade in early. Thx for the reply.
  • Just buy the phone, and then when you're bored of it, sell it on eBay. You'd probably come out a little bit ahead. Either way, you definitely need to take good care of your phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • No one should be confused on this. this is the next step to eventually getting rid of subsidies altogether. this is just the logical replacement of the standard 2 year contract.
    With a 2 year contract now on At&t you pay $200 down and then $15 month for your subsidy. ($360). This would take a $600 phone and make the divide the payments by 30.
    So now they can advertise a new (I)phone for $19.99 a month $0 down.
  • First guy who gets it... same math, different marketing.
  • Cheaper phones would work better for me. All at once or interest free chopped up, no matter how you slice it you are still paying over $450 for MOST high end phones on the market. THIS is why the Moto series is so great. With ANY kind of payment plan, from a house down to a phone, it is the sticker price that really matters.
  • So much of this revolves around the "actual" cost of the phone (according to AT&T). A Moto G is what, $200? Not even worth making the monthly installments. Just buy the damn thing. From the Moto G to the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus you are talking about a price range from $180 up to about $1,000. You can pay off the phone at ANY TIME. The cheaper the phone, the easier that will be to do. The real incentive here is for the phone makers to make cheaper yet still desirable hardware. As Next style plans gain traction and people actually realize/understand what a phone really costs, phone like the Moto G and Moto X will suddenly garner far more attention.
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you don't like it PAY UPFRONT FOR THE EQUIPMENT. Simple. Posted via Android Central App
  • AND the real beauty of the NEXT plan.....you can only have 4 phones under NEXT on one account. Guess they forgot to tell me that fine print until I went in 6 months later to add a 5th phone. Which BTW is under a 2 year contract. Posted via Android Central App
  • Normally I buy my phones in full un-locked but my girlfriends iPhone 6 Plus is crapping the bed and I just want a new phone lol. We are both interested in the S7 Edge and it's $795. My girlfriend wants to keep her iPhone and I could sell my Nexus 6P for $300-$400. With this said putting $1720 and paying in full for two S7 Edges is a lot of money and even putting it on my no interest credit card is a lot. Even if I cell my Nexus for $350 there would be a balance of $1370. Instead we went with the Next 24/30 plan for $26 a month each phone. Seems like a terribly long period to wait to upgrade and payoff the phone BUT I figure if I make 12 payments that's $312 for my phone and I will have $350 from my 6P, making my phone a buyout of $133 since there is no penalty for early payments. Or I take the $350 from my phone and pay off $445. Either way you are paying $795. It's just a question if someone will use the next 24/30 to the full extent and use it not pay for 30 months or upgrade or will actually pay ahead of time. For me I hate owing money but $1700 for two phones is worse