With 'Next' quick-upgrade plan, AT&T shakes up contracts

Last week, it was T-Mobile's 'Jump.' Now it's AT&T's 'Next.' What's the difference? 

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    AT&T's 'Next' program will be rolled out beginning on July 26.
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A week ago, T-Mobile unveiled a plan called Jump, which allows users to upgrade their phones up to twice a year in exchange for an extra 10 bucks a month. Today comes news that AT&T is launching a similar program named Next, which will allow users to upgrade their tablet or smart phone every 12 months, with no upfront costs or down payments. 

It's extremely important to note that neither carrier is offering free upgrades. With Jump, you're paying for the option of upgrading with the monthly $10 fee. With Next, your payments for the new device will be spread out over a series of months – for instance, notes PC Mag, to upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy S4 will cost you $32 a month, on top of your data and voice plan costs. 

Still, this seems to be the way carriers are headed. (Verizon is expected to jump on board soon, too, with its own "VZ Edge" program.)

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In a press statement, Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility, called Next "an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year."

AT&T says all tablets and smart phones currently offered by the carrier will be eligible for Next; rollout will begin on July 26. 

Not that T-Mobile is particularly impressed. In an interview with Roger Cheng of CNET, T-Mobile exec Andrew Sherrard slammed Next as a "poor imitation" of Jump. "As people dig into this, they'll find it's a much better deal to go with Jump," Sherrard told Cheng. 

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