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How Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile phone upgrade plans stack up

Computer HardwareVerizon CommunicationsT-MobileApple iPhone

In just over a week, T-Mobile, AT&T and now Verizon have all announced device upgrade plans.

These plans are all designed to let eager tech users get new phones quicker than they can with traditional plans, which typically require them to wait out a period of two years.

But despite having a similar end goal, each plan works differently. Here's how they compare.

Exchange period

If you want to be able to change out your smartphone often, then the plans offered by T-Mobile and Verizon are the better choices.

T-Mobile's Jump plan lets users get a new phone twice during the span of 12 months. They can do so by trading in their existing device and paying a down payment each time they want to upgrade. Customers must wait at least six months before their first upgrade. 

Verizon's Edge plan also lets users get a new device every six months, but it also requires that users trade in their device and have paid for at least 50% of it.

AT&T, meanwhile, requires that users wait a year before trading in their smartphone for a new one.

Down payments

If you like putting things off and would rather not pay a down payment, go with AT&T. The company won't bill users for the plan when they sign up. Instead, users will be charged their first monthly payment at the end of the cycle. 

Verizon said it will charge users their first monthly payment when they sign up.

T-Mobile, though, has the steepest upfront payment. It charges users a down payment each time they get a new device, which is $100 for many of its phones.

Monthly payments

When it comes to monthly payments, there is no clear winner.

T-Mobile said it will charge users their regular monthly payment (which depends on the device but tops off at $21) and another $10 for the Jump plan.

AT&T's monthly payments can vary a great deal depending on the device. The carrier said payments can be as low as $15 or as high as $50.

And Verizon said its monthly payments are determined by taking the retail price of a smartphone and dividing it by 24. So if you choose a 16 GB iPhone 5, which costs $650, your monthly payment would be about $27.

Availability

T-Mobile Jump is the only one of these plans that is available now. AT&T Next will be available July 26 and Verizon Edge will start Aug. 25.

[For the record, 5 p.m. July 18: An earlier version of this story said T-Mobile Jump let customers upgrade once every six months. In fact, they can upgrade twice any time during the span of 12 months, but they must wait six months before their first upgrade.]

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Computer HardwareVerizon CommunicationsT-MobileApple iPhone
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