See previous discussion of screen size on the iPhone 6 Plus.
I don’t have an eligible phone for a reduced price upgrade, having upgraded to iPhone 5s six months ago or so.
Still, it seemed a worthwhile upgrade for my particular needs, so I ordered a 64GB iPhone 6 Plus, not fully understanding the financial hit, details follow below.
- If bought on the AT&T Next plan (the $42.45 per month one), you’ll receive a consumer credit disclosure showing that the phone is really an $895 purchase (plus tax on the full amount). Well, I can do math, but the notice riveted my attention: do I really need an $849 phone? So I canceled it.
- If bought outright for $695 (my preference), AT&T throws in a fine print dirty trick (big surprise, that’s their modus operandi, they already tricked me on the 5s upgrade twice over): AT&T takes away the $25/month MobileShare discount, thus increasing my mobile phone bill by $300 per year. For just one (1) phone. The fine print alludes vaguely to this, but you have to go looking to figure it out. That makes the same phone a $995+ purchase ($695 + tax + $300) for the first year alone. After the first year you continue to get dinged by $25/month.
Smells like manure to me.
So why don’t I abandon AT&T and switch to the aggressive buy-out plans offered by Sprint? Pure and simple: coverage where I travel. It took me years to figure out where I could get coverage, and that’s essential to my business needs when I’m up there for up to two weeks at a time.
Don H writes:
If you have some sort of family plan then that’s beyond the scope of this discussion, but if it’s just a single phone + contract you might be able to get off the AT&T subsidy/handcuff treadmill and yet still use their network.
As you know, there is no free lunch, so if you buy the device *unlocked* and at list price, you’re generally no better or worse off than if you pay for it through a carrier subsidy. I just did that myself at the Apple Store last Wednesday (I assessed the iPhone 6 after the announcement and realized that, for me, the 5S would be sufficient, so I traded in my pristine 4S at the store before the resale value plummets when all the other upgraders flood the market). So that puts the device purchase on the same level as buying a new computer: no strings attached.
So now the question is what’s the best AT&T plan for those who already have a phone. I don’t know what your phone/data needs are, but there are various pre-paid plans that you could evaluate: https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/prepaidplans.html
Then there is AIO prepaid, which has now been folded into Cricket, which AT&T owns and operates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricket_Wireless
Their pre-paid plans: https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phone-plans
These plans use the very same AT&T network that you’ve been signed up for on your post-paid AT&T service. Exact same coverage.
I was an AT&T customer since 2001, and generally pleased with their service until I got my first smartphone (the aforementioned iPhone 4S). At that point I had to sign up for a more expensive data plan even though I didn't use it much, and the ‘surcharges and fee’s on the bill amounted to a third of the total cost! (A lot of those so-called taxes and fees are shifted from AT&T’s cost of doing business directly to the customer, just as if In-n-Out (McDonald’s) added a ‘restaurant inspection fee’ to the cost of the burger at the cash register while advertising the lower price on the menu board.) After my grandfathered contract ended they wanted to tack on even more fees for no reason other than they could.
So in January of this year I got my phone unlocked and switched to T-Mobile, which offers, for $30 per month (with no added fees or taxes), 100 minutes talk, unlimited text, and 5GB of LTE data. If I exceed 100 minutes of talk each additional minute is 10 cents per. (Since we have unlimited talk on our landline I use that for most outgoing calls including those that are likely to result in long hold times.) https://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans
The big downside, of course, is T-Mobile's limited coverage, which would be a deal-breaker for you. But the point is I researched other options from the usual AT&T post-paid plans and with an unsubsidized, unlocked phone am now in control of my own upgrade cycles, and I can shop around for LTE plans independently. You might want to weigh all the options, including those listed above, while re-assessing just how much voice and data you need.
I’ll say one other thing about AT&T versus T-Mobile. For all their faults, AT&T has a much better web site and means of checking your account info. The T-Mobile web site and account page/app are much more disorganized or lacking in useful information. I learned how to deal with them by way of other tech blogs who love the $30 plan (for 30 days) but not the support so much. I guess that’s why we’re only paying $30 per month.
MPG: my family plan is on staggered dates and rate plans (historical reasons), so it’s a mess. I’m going to wait until November or so and reevaluate, since AT&T cannot deliver until then anyway. An unlocked buy-outright phone is more appealing on an expensing basis, and it looks like this can just be substituted in to the existing plan. I’d then sell my 5s. For that matter, an refurbished phone is fine by me, so maybe come January or so that will also be an option.
Don H also notes:
One other thing to do with any phone that gets paid off is to have it unlocked by AT&T. In the past that was an exercise in caprice as they might unlock some phones before the term was up and on others they’d drag their feet. But now they have an unlock request page:
Definitely do that with all your eligible devices. You never know when you might want to use it with an alternate carrier or lend to a friend for a week or whatever. There is no reason in this day an age for a phone to be ‘locked’ in the first place (they already have you with a signed contract), so unlocking it is like removing a tracking ankle bracelet when you’ve served out parole.
MPG: note that the requested passcode is not the login account password for AT&T but a separate code associated with the phone or account. Unlocking a handset also increases its resale value.