Subsidies, contracts and how the upgrade plans of T-Mobile JUMP!, AT&T Next and Verizon Edge add up

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Subsidies, contracts and how the upgrade plans of T-Mobile JUMP!, AT&T Next and Verizon Edge add up
Just last week, we fired up the Cray supercomputers and crunched the numbers of T-Mobile’s new upgrade program called JUMP! Since then, AT&T made its announcement about a similar equipment upgrade plan called AT&T Next. Shortly thereafter, we learned about Verizon working on yet another upgrade program called Verizon Edge.

We should provide you with a caveat, there is some disagreement even amongst us, your humble writers, as to the role that equipment subsidies play in the business model and rate plans, so we have gone to great lengths to compare a number of scenarios.

The issue of subsidies and their role in rate plans will be discussed in the conclusion of this article. For these comparisons, we contrast the upgrade plans as they have been presented by the carriers. Then, we will even the markers up and look at costs if you upgrade equipment at the same interval. We also examine how things line up when you add carrier service plans to the picture. As usual, we are not incorporating taxes because they vary by location.

Unlike the variety in our initial numbers crunch with T-Mobile’s JUMP!, we are only going to address the “preferred” pricing model (that is, what is on their web-site, sans contingencies for bad credit) from T-Mobile. We will also compare costs of two models, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhone with 64GB of storage, two flagship devices with distinctly different price points, plus we picked a lower-priced smart device that might retail in the $400 range (like a Nexus 4). Since lower end devices are not as pervasive across all carriers, the examples will not be a price-point match, but will be relevant to those that are thinking about those devices.

We are also going to look at what it costs if you cancel service with these plans versus being on a regular two-year contract (if applicable). It should make for a very interesting comparison.  Let's turn the page and see what happens.

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56 Comments

1. wendygarett unregistered

Too many confusion for those plan and end up screwed by Carrier... might as well pick lumia 520 in the end and surfing for the spare enjoying WiFi in Starbucks... $190 for lumia 520, $5 for a cup of Starbucks per day, WiFi for $0 per day... enjoy good coffee, good wifi, with a lag-free device, killing three bird with one stone :)

2. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

if you want a s**tty phone sure

51. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Wendytroll, this is very temporary and only on one carrier.

4. Alantef

Posts: 288; Member since: Sep 14, 2011

lol i was gonna say the same thing lol

5. VTEChump

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

So if you "believe" in the $20/month subsidy built into the contract on ATT and Verizon, then both their plans are a complete ripoff compared to T-Mobile and EVEN THEIR OWN 2 year contract plans.!. I don't understand why you illustrate this in only one table in the whole article. ATT and Verizon are a joke.

6. wendygarett unregistered

They are carriers, what do you expect? Confusion everywhere...

7. VTEChump

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

Sorry, I guess it is illustrated in the first two tables on page 4. Still confusing.

11. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

That number gets thrown around everywhere with no validation. It was likely drawn from the time when T-Mobile offered two tiers of plans, one to accommodate subsidized equipment, the other if you bought at full retail. However, a flat rate makes no sense in the other carrier's models (especially AT&T's whose plans are arguably built on a previous generation model). Subsidies, like other customer facing price points, are a moving target. They change like the weather and that is where the argument about subsidies lose some ground.

27. aliam223

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

what is SPRINT doing about this??? SMH

54. miles16852

Posts: 241; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

what is that stupid SMH ???

8. HASHTAG unregistered

So it's okay to be confused after reading this article, right? Because I am definitely confused.

10. VTEChump

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

That is exactly what the carriers want:). Basically, an argument can be made for T-mobile deal if you need to upgrade phones. But IMHO, the ATT and Verizon deals are a ripoff. You would be better off signing two-year contract's and selling phone on craigslist if you need to upgrade.

12. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

That is the best way to go across the board, buy a phone or two at/near retail and fund your own upgrades through selling your old gear. The second hand market for smartphones is very active.

14. VTEChump

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

Agree, but the problem with that on ATT and Verizon (once again if you believe in the $20/month subsidy) is you are paying that subsidy, even though you paid full price for the phone. So they are charging you for a phone you have already paid for.

19. lolrus

Posts: 29; Member since: May 18, 2013

Coming from someone who sells ATT, VZW and T-Mobile at my job, and thus have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of all the plans, ATT Next and VZW Edge seem like a rip off. T-Mobile Jump is reasonable, but you can still get subsidized phones on two year contracts through them at third party retailers (check out my long ish post further down) and they have a pretty low ETF which makes the value plans in general not great if you want to get a phone through them anyway. As much as my employers would hate for me to say this, the best deal is always going to be a Nexus 4 unlocked and putting it on T-Mobile's insane $30 prepaid plan. But if you don't like paying $300 up front, there are some decent options on two year contracts still. Long story short, I wouldn't consider any of these early upgrade plans, they seem awful compared to the previous two structures of subsidies and unlocked/prepaid.

40. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

What $30 prepaid plan? Link please. Seriously, I am not being snarky. I went to T-Mo and couldn't find a $30 prepaid plan. The best I found was a $50/month prepaid plan, but it was limited to like 250 Mb/month data on 4G/LTE.

43. _PHug_

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

Can't find it on T-mo's web site easily but the plan is a partnership with Walmart. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tmobile-30-Wireless-Airtime-Card/15443357

49. lolrus

Posts: 29; Member since: May 18, 2013

Yeah, that's what I'm referring to. You only get 5GB of 4g speeds and 100 minutes of talk. But you can just VoIP and 5GB is plenty for someone like me. If I wasn't on a Verizon dealer plan it would be that one for me.

55. miles16852

Posts: 241; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

or google tmobile prepaid and you easily get,,,http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans

30. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

The subsidy as it gets thrown around is a misnomer and not accurate.

13. wendygarett unregistered

Confusion is the greatest definition to define them. We pay their confused plan, with confused money you paid till you lost count... and what do we get? No unlocked bootloader... Jailed and fined us for secretly switched the unlocked Sims... Software update? help mercy what the hell is that? Call me a troll or whatever, I'm telling this just to alert some blind customers who pay extra for nothing, and end up financial crisis these day...

52. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

You are trolling and doing so incoherently.

16. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

I'm going to be tweaking some things to give the article some more breathing room. Hopefully that will help.

18. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Lmao! I hope so, cause I'm confused as hell! But the way I see it, since I've already opted for equipment coverage on my Note2, I may as well go to a Jump! Plan. It gives me the equipment protection I'm already paying for and the opportunity to upgrade early. Kinda looks like a win-win, but I'm not sure. If I choose to skip my upgrade and keep the phone the full 2 years, is it mine? Or do I still have to turn it in when I upgrade? If I pay the $20 for the whole 20 months, I assume it's mine!

23. lolrus

Posts: 29; Member since: May 18, 2013

If I understand it correctly, you have the option (whenever you want to upgrade) of either paying off the phone or turning it in. Could be wrong, but that makes sense to me.

26. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

I hope you're right. That just makes sense. Thanks!

9. Cha7520

Posts: 222; Member since: Oct 31, 2010

I'm just going to by the Nexus 5 in Oct and buy a AT&T Sim card using Straight Talk for $45 unlimited...forget all the confusion! LOL

41. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Link? I saw AT&T offering a $60/month prepaid with unlimited talk and text and 3 Gb/month data. Is there a better option?

44. _PHug_

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

He said Straight Talk. http://www.straighttalk.com

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