updated 11:50 am EDT, Sun September 4, 2011
ATT makes more eligible for iPhone 5 discounts
AT&T has quietly counteracted Verizon's early upgrade offers with some of its own, Electronista has learned. Multiple readers report having their discount eligibility being moved up, even if their monthly spending already steps up how soon they can get a lowered price. Some only report getting a partial discount instead of the full drop.
Such practices aren't uncommon for the carrier, which in the past few years has shifted upgrade dates at least slightly to get customers to buy during the frenzy of an iPhone launch. Last year, it gave early upgrades to all who would qualify in 2010. While AT&T wouldn't say why at the time, most recognized it as a virtual confirmation that the provider's iPhone exclusive expired in 2011 and that it was trying to catch as many iPhone buyers on new contracts or fresh devices as possible to discourage them from switching to Verizon.
The new extension, if official, is more likely just to give some more incentive to buy an AT&T iPhone 5 as soon as possible than to ride out the remaining length of the contract or pay what remains of the prorated early termination fee to switch to another carrier. Apple is expected to add Sprint to the mix in October and to launch the iPhone 5 on all three networks at or near the same time, giving AT&T strong motivation to provide better deals.
AT&T hasn't had an opportunity to comment on whether the upgrade plans are being stepped up, although it won't confirm any iPhone 5 release until Apple gives permission.