Rumors surfaced earlier this week that Verizon would be joining T-Mobile and AT&T in announcing a new path for phone upgrades, but today it has been made official. Dubbed \”Verizon Edge\”, the plan spreads out the unsubsidized cost of any Verizon phone over 24 monthly payments, with the first month’s payment made upon purchasing the device.
From there, users can trade in their phone every six months and get a new one—so long as at least 50% of said phone’s unsubsidized cost has been paid off. So if your phone on Edge costs $650 unsubsidized, you’ll need to have paid at least $325 of it in six months in order to upgrade. Verizon says that Edge carries “no long-term service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees” otherwise.
At first blush, Edge seems closer to AT&T\’s Next plan than T-Mobile’s Jump plan, although it has the same six month upgrade timing as the latter. Like Next, Edge will see users pay for the full cost of a device on top of Verizon’s usual—and comparatively expensive—monthly Share Everything service plans for talking, texting and data.
Edge will be good for the more hardcore smartphone shopper that craves the latest gadgets, but it’ll come at a higher price. To upgrade as soon as possible, you’ll need to pay half of a phone’s cost in half of the time it normally takes to do so, or in a quarter of the time it takes to pay it off under a two-year contract. Upgrading after 12 months would presumably make more sense, as you would have paid off half of the phone\’s total price by that time naturally.
But here’s the hangup: Verizon\’s service plans, like AT&T\’s, inherently assume that you’re paying for a subsidized, on-contract phone. Thus, it costs more in order to pay off the full price of said phone over two years. But because Next and Edge charge you monthly payments to pay off an unsubsidized device without changing the cost of those standard service plans, they effectively charge you twice over for one phone. In simpler terms, you’ll being paying notably more per month that you normally would.
The math with these plans can be confusing, but Verizon and AT&T’s hope appears to be that users either won’t mind or won’t realize the added cost. To be fair, being able to upgrade every six (with Edge) and twelve (with Next) months is considerably quicker than doing so every two years, and both carriers have the fastest and most widespread networks. But there is a clear financial benefit here for all the major carriers who are divulging these new upgrade paths, and it may not be obvious to most consumers right away.
Nevertheless, users with money to spend and a hunger to stay on top of the smartphone market can see if Edge is for them starting on August 25.