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What Verizon's new contract-free plan means for your unlimited data

Well, now there's no incentive to give up your unlimited data plan.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Verizon is ditching contracts and subsidized devices in favor of new contract-free plans that are slightly cheaper in some (but not all) circumstances. While current Verizon customers are free to keep the terms of their old contracts for as long as they please, dirt-cheap upgrades are a thing of the past.

In other words, you can keep your plan, but you can't keep getting $200 iPhones every two years.

Great. But what does all this mean for the Verizon customers who are lucky (and persistent) enough to still have an unlimited data plan?

Almost nothing.

In the past year or so, Verizon has been cracking down on users with unlimited data plans. In fact, they made it all but impossible to upgrade your device (and pay a subsidized price) without switching to a new plan. I mentioned in this article that the easiest -- but most expensive -- way to upgrade your device while retaining your unlimited data plan was to purchase a phone at full retail price.

Well, now there are no more subsidized devices, and everyone has to buy phones at full retail price. That means there's practically no incentive for you to give up your unlimited data -- and Verizon won't try to force you out.

I say "practically" because you won't be eligible to purchase a device under Verizon's new installment plan. You'll need to pony up $600+ to buy a new iPhone instead of paying $25/month for 24 months. But the upfront cost is probably worth keeping your unlimited data.