Should I Switch to AT&T's Next Plan?

I do not deny that when the new iPhones came out, I had a serious case of 'I WANT!', but the practical side of me knew I couldn't spend that money any time soon.  There's a trip this year that required some deposits (yes, we are boarding a chartered cruise again) and well, I'd rather pay those than have the newest phone.

My current phone, the iPhone 4s, was acquired the day those came out just over three years ago.  So, I've been well out of contract on our cellular service, but like I said, the priorities for the fun money this year had a phone lower on the list.

When the new phones were announced, I looked at AT&T's website and saw they had two options, the plan we've always had with them, where you pay a subsidized amount for the phone, and the new Next plan, where you pay a monthly fee.  Unfortunately, the site doesn't really spell things out for you, so I assumed that the $25 a month for a 16gig 6 was over and above what we pay each month.  No thanks.

Then, my niece's cell phone broke last month and she got the new iPhone, using the Next plan.  She told us her bill actually went down.  So, I went back to the AT&T site and nope, it really didn't explain this at all.  A few days later, I was shopping at Costco with my friend Jessica and she finally upgraded her iPhone 4, but she paid outright for a 16gig iPhone 6.

This gave me a good opportunity to ask the rep about the Next plan.  Without looking at what I was paying for three lines,  he said the majority of customers have their rates drop a little.  It is offered as 18/24/or 30 month payment plan.  What is different is that, once you finish the monthly payments, you just have your base rate.  What this means is that currently, I've spent 15 months playing the subsidized rate for my phone beyond when I should have.   (It explains why none of the cell phone companies are in a rush to get you to renew!)

So, yesterday, Ed and I went to the local AT&T store to verify what the Next plan entails.  And yep, our base plan will be considerably less once we have paid off the phones.  We can trade in the phones early, if desired, but considering that we seem to hang on to them a bit longer than 2 years, it's possible we will have a few months of base plan.

If we had gone for the 16gig 6 or 6 Plus, our monthly bill would have dropped about 10 bucks a month for now.  But, I spend about an hour a month culling out photographs because my 16gig phone is FULL (and that's with less than a gig of music on it).  Long before the 6's came out, I decided that the next phone would be at least 32gig.  Little did I know, after the 16gig, it jumps to a 64 gig.  Okay, so that's what I'll get.

I was all set to get the 6, Ed wanted the 6 Plus 128gig.  Why?  Because all the iPad music recording apps he uses can be used on the phone.  Cool, it'll be easy to tell our phones apart-until he and the rep had me walk over to the display and compare the phones.  Yeah, so after having a 64gig 6 on the table, ready to walk out the door, the better resolution on the 6 plus was noticeable.

The store got wiped out of 6 Plusses over Christmas, which meant we ordered the new phones.

Another thing to consider: that unlimited data plan. Ed and I have had it on our phones since we got the 3Ss in 2009.  The Next Plan removes unlimited data-but it ends up that between the three of us, we use less than 3 gigs in the average month.  However, it allows us to tether devices, something that we've wanted to do when we travel.  It ends up that 10 gig of data per month costs exactly the same for us as the 3 gig-so that's what we opted to take. (I can tether my laptop at work when I need to check school email now.)

If you're thinking of switching to the Next Plan, it is a good option for those who hang onto their phones longer than 2 years, like us.


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