AT&T Phone Upgrade Period Extended, Now 2 Years Long

AT&T Wireless on Sunday joined Verizon is pushing its phone upgrade policy to a full two years.

Under the company’s new upgrade plan, customers must now wait a full two years to purchase a fully discounted smartphone alongside a new two year contract. Before the two year period, customers will find themselves paying smartphone prices that can range from around $100 to $800.

Before the policy shift, AT&T Wireless customers could receive a full device discount if they had been with their current contract and were in good standing after 20 months of continued cellular service.

The company’s policy shift was revealed on Sunday afternoon thanks to a leaked internal memo, which didn’t provide much information behind company’s rationale in pushing out the upgrade period for a full two years.

The AT&T Wireless upgrade shift affects new customers and existing customers whose wireless agreements expire on or after March 1, 2014.

In order to receive upgrades, customers will also need to upgrade within the same device category. That means you must upgrade to a smartphone if that is what you are currently using for cellular phone service.

AT&T Wireless phone upgrades will not be affected for “Corporate Responsible Users” who already have contracts in place with AT&T wireless.

AT&T has decided to lengthen its phone upgrade period just two months after fellow competitor Verizon Wireless announced a 24 month plan of its own.

When Verizon Wireless announced its 24 month phone upgrade plan, it said at the time that it was aligning the “upgrade date with the contract end date and is consistent with how the majority of customers purchase new phones today.”

Do you think the AT&T Wireless’ plan to push phone upgrades to 24 months will ultimately affect customer sales and retention? I personally always hope to keep my phone for at least 24-36 months before upgrading.