AT&T ups early-upgrade fee to smartphones

Carrier has increased the fee the company charges for upgrading early from any cell phone to a smartphone. The fee was once $75, and now it's $200.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Those hoping to upgrade to an AT&T smartphone early, beware: the company has raised the price for doing so by $125.

When AT&T customers attempt to upgrade their mobile phone to a new smartphone less than 18 months into their current two-year contract, they will now be leveled with a $200 charge. Previously, AT&T charged customers $75 for an early upgrade to a smartphone. The iPhone is an exception to the new rule.

The increase was first discovered by Boy Genius Report, which obtained an alleged internal AT&T document discussing the change. The document says that the increased price took effect on October 3. It also includes an example of the increased charge, which notes that customers would be forced to pay $399.99 for a new BlackBerry Torch when they upgrade early, rather than the standard $199.99 they would pay with a new two-year commitment.

"As smartphones become increasingly more sophisticated, the cost of these devices has also increased," the alleged AT&T document obtained by Boy Genius Report reads. "However, early (exception) upgrade pricing still allows us to provide a price point lower than No-Commitment pricing to our Smartphone customers if needed."

Earlier today, I called my local AT&T store to confirm the change. The sales representative told me that the early-upgrade fee is, in fact, $200. He said that it was changed "recently" from the $75 the company used to charge.

AT&T's decision to increase its early-upgrade fee is another example of carriers trying to get more from customers. Earlier this year, AT&T announced that it had raised its early-termination fee for smartphones to $325 from $175. Verizon Wireless announced last year that its smartphone early-termination fee would increase to $350 from $175.