No one actually wants to keep a phone for two years when they're on a two-year contract. But it looks like AT&T is making it a lot more expensive to upgrade early. On October 3, AT&T increased its early upgrade fee for smart phones from $75 to $200, according to a report by BGR.
Noticeably, the new pricing does not apply to the iPhone or to basic or messaging devices. AT&T is clearly aligning itself with Apple’s smart phone over platforms like BlackBerry and Android. An example of the pricing is an AT&T customer wanting to upgrade early to the BlackBerry Torch, which costs $199.99. With an extra $200 added on, it costs $399.99 to upgrade and then you’d be in a new two-year contract.
A document BGR obtained from AT&T explains that increase is because the cost of “sophisticated” devices is increasing. With the clearly expensive iPhone sitting as an exception, this looks like a chance to eek out more money from customers more than anything else.
The fee is reminiscent of the early termination fee that scares people into staying on their contracts. AT&T’s early termination fee for smart phones was increased from $175 to $325 earlier this year. Verizon has an ETF of $350, Sprint’s ETF sits at $200, and T-Mobile’s ETF is $200. All of these fees decline as contracts progresses.