T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are now offering competitive plans that supposedly free you up from a long two-year contract. In lieu of a contract and phone subsidies, you’ll end up paying full retail price on your next smartphone with convenient interest-free financing, but will any of these new programs capture your interest?
Down payments, monthly payments, service plans, fees, and insurance are complicated enough as it is, but when you add it all together, it could be even more unnecessarily complicated for consumers to try and decipher. We’re going to try and give you a complete picture of what you’re paying if you were to upgrade to one of these Jump, Next, or Edge plans and what’ you’re expected to pay. For the sake of convenience, we’re going to standardized on plans that offer unlimited talk and text and about 2 GB of data.
The Big Picture of Costs
T-Mobile offers somewhat cheaper monthly plans than its bigger rivals, and the number four largest U.S. carrier also offers unlimited data packages, which will be good for smartphone owners looking to take advantage of T-Mobile’s expanding 4G LTE footprint in the States and not have to worry about data caps, overages, or throttling.
With a small down payment, T-Mobile’s UNcarrier initiative asks its customers to finance their phones over a 24-month period.
For this cost comparison, we’ll use the HTC One smartphone, which is now available on all four major U.S. carriers.
- Down Payment: $0.00 (special promotion right now)
- Number of Monthly Payments for Device: 24
- Monthly Payments: $23
- Total Cost of Device Ownership: $0.00 + [24 X $23.00] = $552.00
- Start-Up Fee: $10 (one-time)
- Plan: $70/month (unlimited) or $60 for unlimited talk and text with 2.5 GB data
- JUMP: $10/month
- Cost of JUMP at 12 Months:
- TOTAL COST OF JUMP: $1522 (with unlimited plan) + applicable taxes and fees for one-year of service and all device payments completed.
- Upgrade Cycle: As frequent as every six months without stipulation given the JUMP $10/month fee.
To participate in JUMP, in addition to the device cost, T-Mobile assesses a $10 start-up fee, which includes the cost of the SIM card to set up your line of service with its network. It’s similar to an activation fee, but isn’t labeled as such.
Then, there’s the JUMP plan. This goes for a cost of $10 per month and includes handset protection. Essentially, it’s insurance for your phone and if you lose or damage your phone, T-Mobile will replace your phone for you. If your phone is damaged, a $5 processing fee will be assessed for each claim while loss or theft of the device is leveraged a deductible of $175 for the replacement of your handset.
T-Mobile is also the only carrier that we’re comparing today to offer an unlimited data plan. And given that unlimited data is just $10 more per month over the standard 2.5 GB of data, we calculated T-Mobile’s cost of ownership in this section using the $70 unlimited plan, though you do have to add in the $10 per month Jump fee.
With the JUMP plan added to your account, you can upgrade every six months. After 6 months on the program, then users can upgrade to the next handset.
Bear in mind though that when you do upgrade, you’ll have to return your old phone to T-Mobile so you can’t keep it as a backup phone or to re-sell. It’s essentially like leasing a car and qualifying for a new lease early.
AT&T’s Next program is aimed to compete with T-Mobile’s Jump program and AT&T Mobility became the second wireless carrier in the U.S. to offer a plan that offers early equipment upgrades without the need to sign a two-year contract. Unlike T-Mobile, AT&T requires no money down and the carrier offers interest-free financing.
AT&T allows you to take advantage of its Next program in a number of ways. You can either sign up for individual plans or through the carrier’s Mobile Share Data plans. Additionally, if you have a corporate discount with AT&T, NEXT monthly plans will continue to be discounted at the same rate.
- Down Payment: $0.00
- Number of Monthly Payments for Device: 20
- Monthly Payments: $27
- Total Cost of Device Ownership: $0.00 + [20 X $27.00] = $540
- Start-Up Fee: $0
- Plan: $70/month ($40 voice plan + $30 for 3 GB of data + pay-per-use messaging on a single line)
- NEXT Fees: None; optional insurance at $7 or $10 per month for complete protection; deductibles vary between $50 to $200 per claim.
- Cost of NEXT at 12 Months: $1,164
- TOTAL COST OF NEXT: $13800 + applicable taxes and fees for one-year of service and all device payments completed without any insurance; $1500 with optional $10 complete coverage insurance.
- Upgrade Cycle: As frequent as once every 12 months.
AT&T will allow users to upgrade every 12 months or every year through the Next program. And like Jump, once you upgrade, you’ll have to hand over your existing device so you don’t get to keep your old phone. When you do upgrade to your Next handset, you’ll restart your device payments based on the new phone that you’ve selected following the 20-month payment calculations.
Does Verizon’s Edge edge out T-Mobile and AT&T? Verizon’s program seems to be a hybrid of AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s program, taking a little from Jump and Next and adding in Verizon’s large 4G LTE footprint.
Interestingly, according to Verizon’s Edge FAQ, you do have to sign up for a 24-month Edge Agreement, “however a long-term service agreement isn’t required.” The language is definitely confusing, but likely this means that you do have to be signed in to Verizon for a minimum of twenty-four months, or the length of time your phone’s payment is divided into.
Like T-Mobile, Edge’s payments are divided into twenty-four months. There is no down payment, but you do have to pay an activation fee. And like AT&T, insurance is optional, rather than built-into the Edge plan. This means that if you opt not to get insurance and something happens to your phone, you’ll have to pay it off or continue to make the monthly payments until it is paid off before you can Edge up to a new phone.
- Down Payment: $0.00 (special promotion right now)
- Number of Monthly Payments for Device: 24
- Monthly Payments: $25.22
- Total Cost of Device Ownership: $0.00 + [24 X $25.22] = $605.28
- Start-Up Fee: $35 (one-time activation)
- Plan: $60/month (unlimited voice and text + 2 GB data per month) + $40 fee for shared plan (even if you have just a single device)
- EDGE Fees: None, see upgrade cycle below; optional insurance: $5.18 per month or $8 for total complete coverage. Insurance deductible varies between $100 to $200 per claim.
- Cost of EDGE at 12 Months: 1537.64
- TOTAL COST OF EDGE: $1840 + applicable taxes and fees for one-year of service and all device payments completed without any insurance; $1936.28 with total equipment coverage.
- Upgrade Cycle: As frequent as every six months given that you’ve paid at least 50 percent of the total cost of your smartphone through monthly device payments. If you haven’t, you can make a lump sum payment to take your payments to fifty percent at six months.
Verizon charges a $35 activation fee for its Edge program and the monthly cost, at roughly $100 per month, seems a bit on the high side as Verizon, unlike rival AT&T Mobility, doesn’t offer individual plans anymore. Verizon will force you into a Share Everything Plan regardless if you have a single line or multiple lines so you’re paying for your voice, text, and data monthly fee ($60) plus the privilege of using the device on that plan per month ($40).
Though you can upgrade every six months on T-Mobile and Verizon, we’re going to standardize our comparison at the 12-month mark as it seems more logical given that’s where AT&T stands and on Verizon, despite the 6-month upgrade eligibility you’d still have to make at least 12 months worth of payments (50 percent of the cost of the device) to qualify to upgrade anyways.
So with 12 months of payments on both the device and the monthly plans, along with activation and program fees, you’re looking at paying $1246 on T-Mobile, $1164 on AT&T, and $1538 on Verizon. This doesn’t include any taxes, fees, or other charges.
If you’re adding insurance on AT&T and Verizon, you’ll have to add $120 and $96 respectively to get comparable protection to what T-Mobile is offering in its pricing that we’re quoting above. That brings us to $1246 on T-Mobile, $1284 on AT&T, and $1634 on Verizon.
Differences in Wireless Plans:
No matter how you break it down, T-Mobile’s unlimited everything is a great value and given you’re getting so much from T-Mobile, the break-down at 12 months is still lower than the breakdown for seemingly comparable plans on AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless. On AT&T, you’re getting 250 minutes and 3 GB of data for an individual plan with no text for $70. Unlimited texting comes in at $20 per month extra. AT&T’s Mobile Share Plan with unlimited talk and text along with 2 GB of monthly data comes in at $95 per month for a single line. AT&T offers flexibility here for those who may want to keep their costs down if they don’t talk or text much. On Verizon, you’re only getting the carrier’s Share Everything plans and there are now no options for individual plans. For $100 on Verizon, you do get 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text.
What You’re Giving Up to Gain Contract Freedom:
Freedom from a contract comes at a cost, and T-Mobile made that abundantly clear in its UNcarrier announcement. On all three carriers, you won’t get any device subsidies to have that freedom. However, T-Mobile says that going with its network will also mean cheaper plans. As T-Mobile doesn’t have to subsidize your device costs–you’re paying full price for your smartphone over time anyways–you’ll be saving money on the monthly wireless service plans and this is why T-Mobile says it could offer its customers a $70 inclusive unlimited everything (without tethering) plan.
On the other hand, the cost of going contract-free with AT&T and Verizon are high. Essentially, you’re trading in your device subsidies for the privilege of freedom while at the same time paying for the exact same plans every month as those who agree to a subsidy. Slice it any way you want, but you’re just giving up some savings–which could amount to a few hundred dollars–in subsidies that either carrier would offer if you had chosen to sign a two-year deal. So in the end, you’re paying more for doing business.
And though you’re theoretically not bound by a contract from these carriers, you still are “committed” to them, at least until your phone is paid off. And given that all these carriers have a payment schedule distributed over 20 or 24 months, you’re essentially still in a two-year deal with these carriers, unless you make a lump sum payment to pay off your phone.
However, the privilege here is more frequent upgrades, which could amount to a new phone every 6 or 12 months without the hassle of having to pay full price ahead of your upgrade eligibility under the old wireless way of doing business, or even having to sell or trade-in your phone. Here, upgrades are automatic after 6 or 12 months depending on your choice of carrier and the process is seamless like leasing a car and trading your old lease for a new lease. You theoretically don’t own your phone when you trade up, unless of course you choose to pay it off.
Things to Consider:
Though the option to upgrade sooner (6 months on T-Mobile’s Jump and 6 months with 50 percent of your device’s cost paid off on Verizon’s Edge), another important factor to consider is data speeds, coverage, and availability of 4G LTE. All four carriers now offer a comparable selection of high-end smartphones (Moto X, Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2, LG G2, HTC One, and more), but coverage and data speeds vary drastically.
Verizon has the largest coverage footprint and it has almost blanketed its entire 3G coverage map with LTE coverage. This is quite a robust rollout of its LTE network, but it comes at a cost as LTE speeds are somewhat slower than AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s speeds.
AT&T has the next most robust LTE coverage footprint and offers some of the fastest speeds in the nation. Where LTE isn’t available, AT&T will fall mack to HSPA+ 21 Mbps. The 21 Mbps HSPA+ contingent network is still plenty fast.
T-Mobile, which is rapidly trying to catch up with LTE coverage has the smallest LTE footprint. However, T-Mobile does have some of the fastest HSPA+ 42 Mbps backup network in areas without LTE. Those HSPA+ speeds are pretty comparable to some slower LTE networks and still will get the job done in less time than you’d think when you’re pulling up web pages or watching videos over the Internet.
Then, there’s also unlimited data. If that’s a concern for you, T-Mobile is the only carrier of the ones we’re comparing today to offer unlimited data. And thankfully, T-Mobile’s data network, despite its unlimited offering, is no slouch where speeds are concerned. You’ll just have to find LTE coverage for faster speeds, which is more limited in area than the LTE coverage maps of rivals AT&T and Verizon.
Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is a premium device, with a premium price, but you will be able to pick this up at multiple locations when it launches on Friday, February 14th. This new Galaxy Z Flip is $1,380 and is coming to Sprint, AT&T, and as an unlocked version that you can get at Best Buy or Samsung.
If you are shopping for this new Z Flip, you will want to look around and see if there are any deals or freebies that you can get. Or, perhaps you can purchase at Best Buy and get reward points or double-dip into credit card points.
The Galaxy Z Flip includes all the support you need to use 4G LTE on U.S. carriers, so even if you don’t have AT&T or Sprint, you should be able to bring an unlocked model to Verizon or even some of the cheaper carrier options out there.
Where to Buy the Galaxy Z Flip
If you want to buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip directly from a carrier, your options are to go to AT&T or Sprint on Friday. Both of these carriers will sell the Z Flip on February 14th. The Galaxy Z Flip is $57.50 a month on the Sprint Flex 18 mo. lease.
The other option is to look at Best Buy, where you can buy the Z Flip on AT&T or unlocked. If you want to use the Z Flip on another carrier, you will want the Unlocked version and may need to pay a premium.
Another option is to get the Galaxy Z Flip directly from Samsung or at a Samsung Experience Store. The Samsung option is online and allows you to get the carrier or unlocked options. The Experience Store locations are in major metro areas.
We may even see the Galaxy Z Flip appear on B&H Photo, eBay or other locations in the coming days.
Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold
This is where you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Following the initial release earlier this year, which was then canceled due to durability concerns, Samsung is back and ready to ship the new Galaxy Fold to customers.
The relaunched Galaxy Fold went on sale in South Korea in early September and slowly made its way to other regions. Starting September 27th you can buy the Galaxy Fold in the United States from AT&T, Samsung and Best Buy.
It’s worth noting that T-Mobile is no longer a launch partner, and doesn’t appear to be offering the futuristic folding phone anymore. With that said, here’s what to know and links to buy one today.
Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold
Here’s a list of links for you to buy the Galaxy Fold on or after September 27th, starting at $1,980.
The unlocked model sold at Samsung stores, Samsung.com and at Best Buy works on any and all carriers, so keep that in mind. The AT&T model is available from all of those locations as well.
Initially, we thought the company might lower the price after all the trouble from the initial release, but nope. It’s still a pretty penny and still costs $1,980. Additionally, AT&T will sell you one for $66/mo on a 30-month contract, which is insane.
However, Samsung will give every buyer its new “Galaxy Fold Premiere Service” program which gives you 24/7 access to experts for help, troubleshooting, and tips on how to be careful with that big flexing screen. It’s like your own personal tech-support line specifically for the Fold.
You can get a piece of the future but it’s not going to be cheap. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is $1,980 but packs two screens, six cameras, plenty of storage and a folding display unlike anything else on the market. As a reminder, it has 512GB of storage and 12GB of RAM, so it is plenty powerful for when you want to run three apps simultaneously on the big folding 7.3-inch display. Here’s a quick video that might help you decide to pick one up.
If you’re interested in owning and enjoying one of the most ambitious smartphones we’ve seen in several years this is your chance. We could see some sort of deals or discounts in the next few months, but that’s doubtful. Then again, Samsung might lower the price around Black Friday. For now, it’ll run you $2 grand but it sure looks pretty.
iPhone 11 Deals: Save $50 on iPhone 11 & iPhone 11 Pro Today
The first iPhone 11 deals are here with $50 off the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max starting today at Walmart.
You can pre-order the iPhone 11 at Walmart at 5:01 AM Pacific on Friday and get release date delivery or release date pickup in-store. You can also go in to a store and buy on September 20th, if you prefer.
These iPhone 11 deals are available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and you can choose from a range of colors and storage options.
iPhone 11 Deals & iPhone 11 Pro Deals
With this option, you can save $50 on the price of the new iPhone. Here’s the breakdown.
- iPhone 11 starting at $649
- iPhone 11 Pro starting at $949
- iPhone 11 Pro Max starting at $1049
That’s a nice discount on a brand new phone, and arguably one of the best deals you will see this month. These iPhone deals are available with a monthly payment plan.
Walmart offers several options for buying these phones. They vary based on which carrier you use.
Current Verizon and AT&T customers can upgrade to the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro by pre-ordering the device online at Walmart and choosing to get it shipped to them at home with free two-day shipping.
New and existing Sprint, AT&T and Verizon customers can order the new iPhone 11 online and choose in-store pickup to walk in and get the device on September 20th with in-store activation at 3,400 locations.
Walmart Offers Online Phone Upgrades: $200 Off iPhones & Samsung
You can now upgrade your cell phone at Walmart online and save $200 on a new iPhone or Samsung smartphone without heading into the store.
Walmart iPhone deals are nothing new, but until now you had to go into a store to complete the process. Now you can do the upgrade online for at home delivery. When you do go into stores you will find more experts on hand to help.
Starting with AT&T, users can now pick out a new phone and upgrade online, choose an AT&T payment plan and then get the device shipped to your door in two days with free shipping. From there, you just follow the included activation instructions and you’re good to go.
The process is open to AT&T customers starting today with deals on the iPhone and select Samsung phones that take up to 30% off the monthly payments of a phone. Current deals include;
- iPhone X – $16.63 a month
- iPhone XR – $19.97 a month
- iPhone XS – $28.30 a month
- iPhone XS Max – $31.63 a month
- iPhone 7 – $13.27 a month
- iPhone 8 – $18.30 a month
- iPhone 8 Plus $21.63 a month
- Samsung Galaxy S10 – $24.97 a month
- Samsung Galaxy S10+ – $26.63 a month
- Samsung Galaxy S10e – $19.97 a month
- Samsung Galaxy 9 – $14.97 a month
- Other Samsung Deals at Walmart
Walmart plans to add support for other carriers in the coming months. You can expect similar deals on Verizon and Sprint at that time.
As part of this launch and dedicated wireless experts at up to 600 stores by the holiday shopping season Walmart offers the iPhone X for $499, which is $300 off. This deal is only available in stores though.
Where to Buy the Galaxy S10 & Galaxy S10+
The Samsung Galaxy S10 preorders are live at many retailers right now, and direct through Samsung. This is a comprehensive list of where to buy the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10+, starting with a preorder.
We have you covered with our guide on if you should preorder the Galaxy S10 or wait and we have you covered whether you should buy the Galaxy S10 for the Galaxy S10+. We even have the answer about which Galaxy S10 color you should buy and a full list of the best Galaxy S10 pre-order tips and tricks, so now we need to help you figure out where to buy your Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy S10 release date is March 8th and pre-orders are now live, so you can lock in your order without waiting if you know you want this phone and not the Galaxy Fold.
Where to Preorder the Galaxy S10
At this stage there are no Galaxy S10 preorder issues with stock. It looks like most stores and carriers still have the new models ready for release day delivery, but you may see that slip on some of the colors and storage sizes as the release date arrives.
Here are the best places to put in a Galaxy S10 preorder to make sure that you get yours on the first day. You can score some Galaxy S10 deals and S10+ deals, but you need to add a new line as a second line or you need to trade in an old phone.
- Verizon Galaxy S10 Preorder
- AT&T Galaxy S10 Preorder
- Sprint Galaxy S10 Preorder
- T-Mobile Galaxy S10 Preorder
In addition to buying right at a carrier you have a few other options including Samsung, Best Buy, Walmart and other retailers. Here are the links to check these options out.
You can preorder the Galaxy S10 or S10+ for online at these locations. You may find some in store pre-orders, but typically you need to order online for delivery. Best Buy allows you to preorder for in store pickup.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Deals
You can find some Galaxy S10 deals right now. These include the following deals you should check out before you buy.
- Free Galaxy Buds with Purchase – Should be available at all carriers and retailers
- Up to $550 in trade at Samsung
- Buy Galaxy S10 Get Galaxy S10e free at Verizon (One line must be new to Verizon line)
- Buy Galaxy S10 get $750 off Galaxy S10 or S10+ (One line must be new to Verizon line)
- Buy Galaxy S10 Get One Free at AT&T on AT&T Next, through installments, void if you cancel lines.
- Up to $650 Off with Trade in at Best By Plus BoGo deals at Sprint a and Verizon.
Pre-Order If You Want the Galaxy S10 ASAP
If you've already decided to make one of the new Galaxy S10 models your next phone and you want it on your doorstep as soon as possible, you'll want to pre-order through Samsung, your carrier, or your favorite retailer.
Pre-ordering the Galaxy S10 today will ensure that you get the model you want, in the color you want, on the first day of availability.
That's March 8th for most models in the United States though the unlocked and carrier-locked variants of the 128GB Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ ship out the week of March 15th.
The Galaxy S10 release date might be March 8th, but some pre-orders are already showing up on doorsteps in the United States.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 probably won't sell out completely so there's no need to rush. Models that do sell out will likely return soon after the device's launch.
That said, if you want peace of mind and/or want a new phone in your hands right away, pick the option that best fits your needs and put in an order now.
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