Trying to figure out ATT options for iPhone 6 is like a math word problem

sixxmum

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 15, 2010
601
56
We have been with AT&T for over 16 years. Now we have contracts running out in September and want to make the iPhone6 switch.

But, we got in early on the shared data plans. So, we are paying $100 a month for 10G of data plus $15 each for 8 lines (1/2 are dumb phones, but same cost per month).

It appears that if we go back on contract, with the standard contract, our monthly cost goes up $200, because the plan switches, more than canceling any savings. Does that seem right?

If we buy our own phones outright and bring them to AT&T, I *think* we can keep the current plan.

If we switch and use NEXT, there is no upfront cost and our lines stay $15 a month (?) but we would have the monthly cost of paying the phone in installments. So, it would be about equal to option 2.

Am I missing anything here?
 

mr99

macrumors 6502a
Jan 8, 2014
520
44
We have been with AT&T for over 16 years. Now we have contracts running out in September and want to make the iPhone6 switch.

But, we got in early on the shared data plans. So, we are paying $100 a month for 10G of data plus $15 each for 8 lines (1/2 are dumb phones, but same cost per month).

It appears that if we go back on contract, with the standard contract, our monthly cost goes up $200, because the plan switches, more than canceling any savings. Does that seem right?

If we buy our own phones outright and bring them to AT&T, I *think* we can keep the current plan.

If we switch and use NEXT, there is no upfront cost and our lines stay $15 a month (?) but we would have the monthly cost of paying the phone in installments. So, it would be about equal to option 2.

Am I missing anything here?
That's how I understand it and how it was explained to me over ATT chat. I agree it's like they purposely confuse you into a plan.
 

1981d

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2013
265
64
I wish there was a liberal arts version of the phone plans.:( Maybe some kind person from the math/science side will drop by and explain it to us. :cool:
 

jnappleseed

macrumors member
Jun 25, 2013
65
1
Athens, Georgia
We have been with AT&T for over 16 years. Now we have contracts running out in September and want to make the iPhone6 switch.

But, we got in early on the shared data plans. So, we are paying $100 a month for 10G of data plus $15 each for 8 lines (1/2 are dumb phones, but same cost per month).

It appears that if we go back on contract, with the standard contract, our monthly cost goes up $200, because the plan switches, more than canceling any savings. Does that seem right?

If we buy our own phones outright and bring them to AT&T, I *think* we can keep the current plan.

If we switch and use NEXT, there is no upfront cost and our lines stay $15 a month (?) but we would have the monthly cost of paying the phone in installments. So, it would be about equal to option 2.

Am I missing anything here?

So, you're paying $15 per smartphone because it sounds like they're out of contract. I guess the dumb phone price to add on is also $15, I haven't ever dealt with a customer that had one. Anyway, if you upgrade any line to a 2 year agreement, instead of being $15 to be on the plan, it would go up to $40.

Sorry, I got the NEXT having to be on a separate data group wrong. I have so many plans going in my head. I should have double checked. Yes, if you upgrade via NEXT, it can stay on the same data group. Sorry for the confusion.
 
Last edited:

uwdude

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2014
914
462
So, you're paying $15 per smartphone because it sounds like they're out of contract. I guess the dumb phone price to add on is also $15, I haven't ever dealt with a customer that had one. Anyway, if you upgrade any line to a 2 year agreement, instead of being $15 to be on the plan, it would go up to $40.

Let's say you upgrade one with a 2 year, but another with NEXT. There would be an issue there. You would have to create a separate data share group for the NEXT line. So you would have 2 data groups: one for the lines that are out of contract and the lines with a 2 year agreement. Then a separate data group for the NEXT line.

The NEXT plan is good for people that plan to upgrade every year. You pay a portion of it off and then trade it in and start over again if you wish to get a new phone. If you don't, you simply continue paying the phone and once you pay it off, the phone is yours and you can migrate that phone to the first data group with everyone else.

And I forgot to add. For the line that (if) you upgrade via NEXT, when you create the separate data group, if it's a 6 GB plan or less, you pay $25 to add it in the data group in addition to the actual price of the GB plan and the installment payment. Any plan more than 6 GB, will pay $15 (that's why you're paying $15 because it's a 10 GB for the first data group)
OMG my head is spinning after reading that- just give me whatever is cheapest! lol
 

jnappleseed

macrumors member
Jun 25, 2013
65
1
Athens, Georgia
OMG my head is spinning after reading that- just give me whatever is cheapest! lol
lolololol. Basically, if you upgrade any line via 2 year, instead of paying $15, you'll pay $40. If you upgrade via NEXT, it stays $15, but you'll also pay an installment payment. A conservative estimate is around ~$20-$30. You'll be about the same as if you did a 2 year. Only difference is you can upgrade after a year by trading the phone in and start again.
 

uwdude

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2014
914
462
So basically NEXT works out to about the same price, you just have the option of upgrading sooner, so you might as well go NEXT then. Ok that's in simpler terms that my mind can wrap around before coffee!
 

mantan

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2009
1,686
928
DFW
lolololol. Basically, if you upgrade any line via 2 year, instead of paying $15, you'll pay $40. If you upgrade via NEXT, it stays $15, but you'll also pay an installment payment. A conservative estimate is around ~$20-$30. You'll be about the same as if you did a 2 year. Only difference is you can upgrade after a year by trading the phone in and start again.
That's pretty much it. The cost ends up being the same....the difference is you get a lower service rate when the phone is 'paid off'.

I think this is going to be a HUGE point of confusion next month. Lots of AT&T customers moved to the new shared plans earlier this year. The upside, which they will quickly forget, is they immediately got the $15 'off contract' monthly service rate on each line. The downside, is the cost per line with an upgrade will be higher than the old $30 rate. (When you factor in no downpayment it comes out to overall cost is the same...but in the US people tend to see everything in terms of monthly cost.)

But a lot of families who like to upgrade multiple phones at the same time are going to be in for 'sticker shock' when they see the increase in their monthly rate. They'll forget about the money they saved most of the year and claim that AT&T is 'screwing them'.
 

sixxmum

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 15, 2010
601
56
Mantan,
I think if people had switched knowing that the next upgrade they made it was over, they would think of it differently. But, ATT really pushed switching because the plan would lower overall cost to a family by so much. However, now it will be higher. Yep, over the course of 18 months, it's going to even out to about where it was before. That doesn't mean I can't feel annoyed that 9 months ago they got me to switch everyone onto the shared data plan (from having half the phones on an old regular family plan) by telling me what a favor they were doing me to change the plans.


Pure-rockstar,
It's just confusing to me. I'm glad it's not for you. :)

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OMG my head is spinning after reading that- just give me whatever is cheapest! lol
I hear you! :)

I was thinking we would buy outright.

But, it seems like the math works out the same to go with NEXT, *if* the phones that currently are at the $15 a month rate (they are still on contract - we just started this plan when it wasn't a contract or no contract difference) can stay at that rate. The benefit then would be that we don't have the out of pocket at the start and the money stays in our pockets longer.

However, if the phones that are on-contract go up to $40 if we go on NEXT, then it makes more sense to go with the upfront purchase. That part is a little murky, however.
 

mantan

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2009
1,686
928
DFW
Mantan,
I think if people had switched knowing that the next upgrade they made it was over, they would think of it differently. But, ATT really pushed switching because the plan would lower overall cost to a family by so much. However, now it will be higher. Yep, over the course of 18 months, it's going to even out to about where it was before. That doesn't mean I can't feel annoyed that 9 months ago they got me to switch everyone onto the shared data plan (from having half the phones on an old regular family plan) by telling me what a favor they were doing me to change the plans.


Pure-rockstar,
It's just confusing to me. I'm glad it's not for you. :)
I agree. The entire plan was marketed around 'lower cost' without fully disclosing the impact of losing subsidies.

Which I never understood. If AT&T wanted to move away from subsidies, they did it about as painfree as they could. Users were allowed to move 'off contract' even if they bought a new phone the month before. Off contract pricing addressed the long time complaints that monthly fees were too high for phones that weren't being subidized. And by moving to a no downpayment/20-24 month payment schedule, the monthly cost was 'in the ball park'. In fact, if people applied the $199-$299 as a downpayment to reduce the NEXT monthly cost...it would be a wash.

Instead they focused purely on the short term cost decrease...which is going to a lot of people feeling bamboozed when they go to upgrade 2-4 phones next month and see their monthly rate skyrocket.
 

danish1542

macrumors member
Jan 18, 2008
65
0
MA
Let me see if I've got this straight:

If I upgrade a line using NEXT:
I will pay (approx) $30/month for the new iPhone, a total of $360. That is my only out of pocket expense and after the end of one year I can upgrade to the iPhone 7 (or whatever). But, after that one year, if I do want to upgrade my phone again, I believe I need to pay any remaining balance left for my current phone. Is that correct?

If I upgrade a line without using NEXT:
I will pay an additional $25 a month for that line because I am switching from NEXT back to a regular data plan. I will also pay, lets say $300, for the new iPhone. This is a total of $600 out of pocket for the course of one year. BUT- when the new phone comes out, I can use an upgrade swap, and sell my old iPhone on eBay for ~$400, leaving me with only $200 out of pocket for 1 year. That seems like the better option to me.

Does this make sense?
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
it seems like the math works out the same to go with NEXT, *if* the phones that currently are at the $15 a month rate (they are still on contract - we just started this plan when it wasn't a contract or no contract difference) can stay at that rate.
AFAIK, the only time the $15/month rate would change is if you buy a new phone using the old subsidized method (i.e. $199 up front, then sign a 2-year contract), or if you lower your data plan to less than 10GB.

If you buy a new phone outright, or use their NEXT program for 0% financing over 20/24 months, the $15 rate stays.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,244
1,312
If I upgrade a line using NEXT:
I will pay (approx) $30/month for the new iPhone, a total of $360. That is my only out of pocket expense and after the end of one year I can upgrade to the iPhone 7 (or whatever). But, after that one year, if I do want to upgrade my phone again, I believe I need to pay any remaining balance left for my current phone. Is that correct?
With NEXT, you either pay 1/20th of the cost of the phone per month, or 1/24th, in addition to the fee to use the phone ($15/month for anyone on a 10GB+ data plan). At the end of 20/24 months, you own the phone out-right, and you didn't pay any more than if you bought the phone out-right on day #1. IMO, it's a 0% financing plan if you use it like that.

If you want to upgrade before you've paid the balance of your phone off, you either pay the phone off completely yourself (and keep your old iPhone to sell on eBay, or whatever you want to do with it), or after 12/18 months, you can just give your old iPhone to AT&T and they use it to pay off the remainder of your balance, and then you can get a new phone.

I thought I read you have to pay the sales tax up front when upgrading/buying through NEXT, but I don't see that listed now.

If I upgrade a line without using NEXT:
I will pay an additional $25 a month for that line because I am switching from NEXT back to a regular data plan. I will also pay, lets say $300, for the new iPhone. This is a total of $600 out of pocket for the course of one year. BUT- when the new phone comes out, I can use an upgrade swap, and sell my old iPhone on eBay for ~$400, leaving me with only $200 out of pocket for 1 year. That seems like the better option to me.
When I ran the numbers, there wasn't a huge savings difference between either method (2-year contract vs NEXT), assuming everyone upgrades at least every two years. If you are the type that keeps the same phone for more than 2 years, then NEXT definitely becomes cheaper.

NEXT seemed to allow folks to upgrade every year with less money out of pocket (i.e. not having to pay $649+ at once on year #2 of a 2-year contract), not having to sell their stuff on eBay or Craigslist, and not having to pay that stupid $36 "upgrade fee".

You also don't have a contract to worry about with NEXT, which allows you to leave the company at any time without an ETF.
 

sixxmum

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 15, 2010
601
56
So, ATT chat confirmed that all the lines on the account can maintain the discount except those that are upgraded, even though it is a shared plan (which is contrary to what they said before).

That means that the big incentive for NEXT would be upgrading every year, which we don't do anyway and getting out of contract faster.

But, the downside would be paying the full cost of the phone.

Decisions decisions!
 

Tike1994

macrumors member
Jun 27, 2010
39
0
St. Charles, IL
Another negative for the NEXT plan is that you have to pay tax on the full price of the phone up front ($650). If you buy under the subsidized plan, you only pay tax on the purchase price ($199)
 

Sketchr

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
929
120
Don't play games. Just buy the phone outright, pay only $15 (25 discount) per month with a family data plan. Less hassle in the long run and you can still sell your phone at the end of 1-2 years at a decent price, no contracts, unlocked after 60 days...
 

SpyderBite

macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2011
1,262
8
Xanadu
lolololol. Basically, if you upgrade any line via 2 year, instead of paying $15, you'll pay $40. If you upgrade via NEXT, it stays $15, but you'll also pay an installment payment. A conservative estimate is around ~$20-$30. You'll be about the same as if you did a 2 year. Only difference is you can upgrade after a year by trading the phone in and start again.
A year? Wow. On Verizon you only have to wait 30 days and have at least 60% paid off. That's why I put a down payment (optional) down of $300 so I could upgrade either of my lines whenever I want.
 

rui no onna

macrumors 604
Oct 25, 2013
6,799
3,089
If I upgrade a line using NEXT:
I will pay (approx) $30/month for the new iPhone, a total of $360. That is my only out of pocket expense and after the end of one year I can upgrade to the iPhone 7 (or whatever). But, after that one year, if I do want to upgrade my phone again, I believe I need to pay any remaining balance left for my current phone. Is that correct?
To be more accurate, that's likely going to be:
$32.50/mo for iPhone 6 16GB: $390 after 12 months
$37.50/mo for iPhone 6 32GB: $450 after 12 months
$42.50/mo for iPhone 6 64GB: $510 after 12 months

At month 12, you can give AT&T your iPhone 6 and they will waive the remaining payments (16GB $260, 32GB $300, 64GB, $340) and you can start over again:
$32.50/mo for iPhone 6s 16GB: $390 after 12 months
$37.50/mo for iPhone 6s 32GB: $450 after 12 months
$42.50/mo for iPhone 6s 64GB: $510 after 12 months

If you use Next for trade-in, the 16GB iPhones will cost you $780 ($390 + $390) over a 2-year period.

However, keep in mind you can pay off your phone anytime you want. You can sell your iPhone 6 16GB on ebay for, say, $400 and use that to pay off the remainder of the loan. In this case, it ends up costing you $640 ($390 - $400 selling price + $260 loan pay off + $390) over a 2-year period.

If I upgrade a line without using NEXT:
I will pay an additional $25 a month for that line because I am switching from NEXT back to a regular data plan. I will also pay, lets say $300, for the new iPhone. This is a total of $600 out of pocket for the course of one year. BUT- when the new phone comes out, I can use an upgrade swap, and sell my old iPhone on eBay for ~$400, leaving me with only $200 out of pocket for 1 year. That seems like the better option to me.
I think this might work if you still have a dumbphone on the other line. If they're both on smartphones, you'll probably end up having to pay $40 each per month for both your line and the swap line or an extra $50 per month for the second year. Keep in mind, if you keep a $15 dumbphone line just so you can get the full subsidized upgrades, you need to factor that in to the cost, too (extra $360 over a 2-year period).

$200 upfront + $25*12 (1st year) - $400 selling price + $200 upfront + $25*12 (2nd year) = $600
 

sawah

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2010
968
215
You can do the same on AT&T. If you want a new phone before 12 months, walk in give your phone back and pay the rest of your 12 months installments as long as you've made at least one payment.
 

Deguello

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2008
912
480
Texas
Another negative for the NEXT plan is that you have to pay tax on the full price of the phone up front ($650). If you buy under the subsidized plan, you only pay tax on the purchase price ($199)
Which is probably offset by not having to pay the upgrade fee, depending on your tax rate.

Another thing that might offset the extra tax is any kind of insurance or extended warranty provided by your credit card, which will be based on the full price not the subsidized price.
 

Primejimbo

macrumors 68040
Aug 10, 2008
3,294
129
Around
I went to Next and got my phone from Best Buy, just bought it outright from them. I had so many reward points saved up and get more back also doing this. I was going to spread out the payments with AT&T, but I had the reward points to use and it was cheaper because of it. I also can get the 6 now when it comes out and give my 5s to my daughter. We're saving about $35-40 a month too doing this. It sounds like your bill will be the same, but I was on an old plan.
 

sixxmum

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 15, 2010
601
56
I went to Next and got my phone from Best Buy, just bought it outright from them. I had so many reward points saved up and get more back also doing this. I was going to spread out the payments with AT&T, but I had the reward points to use and it was cheaper because of it. I also can get the 6 now when it comes out and give my 5s to my daughter. We're saving about $35-40 a month too doing this. It sounds like your bill will be the same, but I was on an old plan.
Why/how did you use Next if you already own the phone? Couldn't you just go with the no-contract option?
 

sixxmum

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 15, 2010
601
56
Doing the math for us for cost over 2 years and assuming equal resale values regardless it seems like, randomly guessing the cost of the iPhone at $600 and the sub cost at $200, if the CS person is correct about the plans...

2 iPhone 6 with traditional plan
$400 down payments, $28 tax, $60 upgrade fees, additional $25 month for each phone = $1688 over two years

2 years of locked in contract

can sell and upgrade at 2 years


2 iPhone 6 with NEXT
$32.10 a month installments + tax on each phone for 20 months = $1284 over two years

20 months to pay off if paying required only

can sell and upgrade at 20 months


2 iPhone 6 purchasing up front
$600 each for 2 phones + tax = $1284

Payed off immediately. Can sell and upgrade at any point.


Other than the upfront cost, I can't think of a reason not to just buy upfront.

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on Next or not, I'm paying the same price.
It's stellar that you had the points for that! I didn't even know Best Buy had a points program.