By way of an update to its upgrade eligibility terms, Verizon Wireless is extending the amount of time it requires users on contract to wait before being eligible for upgrade pricing. It’s also dismantling the remaining parts of its New Every Two program, and placing restrictions on how upgrades shared with users on the same account can be redeemed.
The change, which was announced by Verizon on its company news blog, mandates that customers who have a two-year service agreements with the carrier wait 24 months, or the end of their contract term, before being able to upgrade to a new device and extend their agreement with the carrier. Before the change Verizon customers could upgrade to a new phone 20 months after their last upgrade and receive a discounted price on the new device. Users would still have to serve out the last two months of the first contract, then Verizon would tack on the extra 24 months. Users can still upgrade their handset at any time, however they would have to pay the full price of the handset out of pocket.
The iPhone 5 is currently $649 on Verizon without any carrier provided discounts.
According to the statement, “This change aligns the upgrade date with the contract end date and is consistent with how the majority of customers purchase new phones today.”
In addition to not offering upgrade pricing for those with in the 20th month of their contracts, Verizon will also stop honoring any of the upgrade tokens it provided to users through its “New Every Two” program. Though the program officially ended in January of 2011, Verizon had still been allowing users to take advantage of any tokens they came into possession of before the program ended. Any credits not used by April 15th will disappear.
Lastly, customers will no longer be able to share upgrades with other users on the same account for devices that aren’t phones. For example no users will be able to share an upgrade and have that upgrade used for tablets, netbooks or mobile internet devices. Going forward users will only be able to share upgrades for devices in the same category of the device that the device of the person who shared the upgrade with has. That would mean that a user who had a basic phone wouldn’t be able to share an upgrade with someone else on the same account who is upgrading to a smartphone.
As the pace of smartphone innovation has increased, users have been more and more interested in picking up the latest device with the features that are missing from their previous device. As in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S4, these updates usually happen on yearly cycles, leaving some users to wait a full year to get their hands on the upgraded version or pay the suggested retail price of the updated handset.
Of all smartphone manufacturers Apple is known to shirk yearly top-to-bottom updates to its iPhone line. Instead the company releases a fully new redesign one year, followed by a design with slightly improved internals and new features the year after, then repeats the process. Android vendors opt for yearly cycles instead.
Verizon rival AT&T still offers users the option to upgrade their device and agree to a new two-year service agreement, while Sprint has boosted upgrade eligibility to 22 months after users have last upgraded. During its “unCarrier” event, T-Mobile announced that it would be abolishing all contracts, and early upgrade requirements entirely. Instead its users can upgrade their device at any time as long as they pay for the price of the device in full, or are willing to pay for the device with a down payment and monthly plan.