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Verizon to start charging for phone upgrades

Starting April 22, Verizon will go from offering an extra $30 off a phone upgrade to charging that same amount for the privilege. It's still a better deal than buying a full-price or unlocked phone, though.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Verizon Wireless will soon begin charging customers for the privilege of upgrading to the latest and greatest phone. Here's the announcement from Big Red itself:

"On April 22, Verizon Wireless is implementing a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract. This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect, which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever."

In case you didn't catch exactly what's happening here, Verizon will begin charging customers to be able to get their new phone at a discount. This is a 180-degree flip from the days when the company would offer an additional $30 discount to customers looking to upgrade once they'd completed at least 20 months of their two-year contract.

In other words, your basic upgrade now costs about $60 more from Verizon with the loss of the old $30 bonus discount and the addition of the new fee. That's a bummer, but all in all, upgrading through Verizon still offers substantial savings over buying a full-price or unlocked phone.

When my Droid 2 recently died, it would have cost me $500 to replace it with a Droid Razr at full price, which is what I was looking at since I hadn't yet reached my upgrade eligibility date. Instead, I called Verizon and did some groveling and got the Razr for $199 with a two-year contract extension.

I didn't get the $30 discount promised in my contract, but I also avoided this new $30 fee. So it's a bit of a wash for me, but nonetheless I continue to watch with anxiety as the trend in terms of wireless fees, incentives, data caps, and throttling continues to be less friendly to consumers.

So far though, the speed of my 4G LTE downloads have kept me thoroughly opiated. I'll miss my $30 later, right now I've got apps to download...