AT&T launched AT&T Next in 2013 as a way to move customers away from two-year contracts. The idea: Let you pay for your phone in installments and give you the option to upgrade your phone in as little as 12 months, instead of 24 months.
Initially, the program had four payment options, but in June 2016 AT&T streamlined it to just two: AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year.
How does AT&T Next work?
AT&T Next is a payment plan with an upgrade option built in. How much you pay each month and when you can upgrade depends on the plan you choose.
- Pay for your phone in 30 monthly installments.
- Trade in your phone and upgrade after you pay off 80% of the retail price, which is typically after 24 monthly installments.
AT&T Next Every Year
- Pay for your phone in 24 monthly installments.
- Trade in your phone and upgrade after you pay off 50% of the retail price, which is typically after 12 months.
You can buy a phone with no down payment if you have good credit, but opting to pay a little up front will help lower your monthly payments. Either way, you’ll pay taxes on the full price of the phone when you purchase it.
Both AT&T Next plans require you to turn in your old phone when you upgrade. If you’d rather hang onto your old phone, either to sell it or keep as a backup, you need to pay it off completely before buying a new one via AT&T Next.
» MORE: AT&T cell phone plans
Is AT&T Next a good deal?
AT&T Next is a great deal if you’re happy with AT&T and you want to always have the latest phone.
The chart below compares the monthly cost and total cost of an iPhone 8 (64GB), depending on which payment option you choose.
AT&T Next payment plans (no early upgrade)
|Monthly price||Installments||Total paid|
|AT&T Next Every Year||$29.17||24||$700.08|
AT&T Next payment plans (early upgrade)
|Monthly price||Installments to upgrade||Total paid before upgrade|
|AT&T Next Every Year||$29.17||12||$350.04|
With AT&T Next Every Year, for example, Apple fanatics who bought the new iPhone 8 when it was released in September 2017 will have paid off 50% of their phone just in time for the next big iPhone release the following September. That means they can trade in their now ancient iPhone for the latest and greatest Apple creation without paying any extra.
If you’re happy with AT&T but not concerned with keeping up with Apple Nation, the standard AT&T Next plan gives you a lower monthly payment and costs just pennies more than had you paid full retail price up front.