iPhone for $199? Not So Fast Says AT&T

Roberto Baldwin's picture

iPhone for $199? Not So Fast Says AT&T



Gizmodo spoke with AT&T and found out that the mobile carrier will require current AT&T customers to be eligible for an upgrade before they'll hand over the iPhone 3G at its subsidized price.


Unlike the current iPhone, that was unsubsidized, the iPhone 3G will be treated like any other mobile device the carrier sells. So what is the unsubsidized price of the iPhone 3G? AT&T isn't saying, or doesn't know.


Currently, AT&T allows customers to upgrade after two-years of service. Certain customers can upgrade sooner if they meet certain criteria. Such as, you have a calling plan that costs at least $68.99 a month but no more than $98.99 a month and have ben in contract for 21 months without an upgrade,


A standard calling plan plus data service costing $99 or more a month, and haven't upgraded in the last 12 months.
A customer with a calling plan with data service of less than $69 who is 21 to 23 months into their contract may upgrade for a fee and new two-year commitment.


Okay, who's confused?


If you have AT&T, sign in to your online account and you can check your eligibility for an upgrade, or when you will be eligible. 




+ Add a Comment

Tim Van Bruggen

My dad always said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." I was wondering how it was possible to sell an 8g iPhone 3G at $199, while the 8g iPod Touch is still at $299. I was hoping that we might see a revamp of the Touch with the new design and lower prices in the near future. But nope. Now I know . . . hefty contract prices at AT&T, major, major downpayment for people with not so sterling credit, higher data costs. The $199 isn't as good a deal as it sounds. Oh well, as much as I like the iPhone, I don't want to be held to AT&T's monthly contracts. And I certainly don't want to pay the unbelievably hefty cost for pre-paid, poor credit customers just to express my iPhone love. Back to my old LG for the time being.



I considered buying an iPhone, since I've had AT&T for @ 4 years and have almost 6,000 anytime minutes accrued. However, I'm not willing to shell out a minimum of $200 for an iPhone and then pay a minimum of $70.00/month to use it.

Obviously, there are a lot of people out there who either make a hell of a lot more money than I do or simply don't mind paying $840.00/year for phone service (not to mention all the taxes they pile on to all of these service plans).

You have to give Apple and AT&T credit, though, if Ma Bell had charged those kinds of prices back when, all hell would have broken loose. Instead, people seem to be falling all over themselves to feed the capitalist money bags. Go figure -



Does anyone REALLY believe that either Apple or AT&T is going to offer a shiny, new, faster iPhone for anywhere close to what the old one cost? Both companies exist for solely one purpose. To make money. That's it, nothing else. Now, if you were them, and had the hottest tech gadget going right now, how would you handle it?

Apple sleeps with AT&T, makes a deal, and all the sudden, the world lines up waiting to hand over more money than they should be.

Now, AT&T subsidizes the new iPhone, sells it cheaper, but then nails you for a premium service fee cause you want the iPhone, and that ends up being more money for AT&T's pocket. You'd think that would be enough (price of new iPhone + extra $10/month = more $ than original iPhone), but it isn't. Fees here and there, any where that AT&T can find to get more of our money. Apple and AT&T have engineered this from day one to be the biggest money suck I've seen in a long time. and we (yes, including me, but only when the new phone hits 32 GB), will line up with our pockets open and salivating and bent over cause it's the IPHONE.

I love Apple's products, I've even been referred to on more than one occasion as an "Apple whore", but as a company, I list them as one of the most unscrupulous (?) corporate machines ever. I can't stand the fact that I feed that corporate machine as much as I do. As far as AT&T goes, they've always been on that list. I swore I'd never go back to AT&T, but Apple had something to say about that. The underlying problem is that I didn't have a choice in the matter, other than giving up my personal goal of having an iPhone. Apple made that decision for me. This is WRONG.

The iPhone is flawed. But not the phone itself, Apple flawed a good thing by making this deal with AT&T. And who gets screwed because of that flaw...?

That's right, YOU and ME, the people who are making all this money making possible.



I've been wondering about all this. I'm a new AT&T customer (lost my old Verizon phone; was out of contract & didn't want to start a new term there, but needed a new phone.) Since Apple has heavily advertised the "$199" factor, I was thinking, cool, I'll just sign up with AT&T with a cheapie phone now, then walk into an Apple store in July, change to the "iPhone plan" and pick up the phone for $199. Only in the tiniest of print does Apple say on the website "Requires new 2-year AT&T rate plan, sold separately." NEW plan. Since I got a freebie ATT phone a couple of months ago as part of a new 2-year contract, now I realize (duh) that--even though I'll be switching to a more expensive plan--they'll never give me the phone for $199. I wonder how they will handle situations like this. (Pay a pro-rated amount for the old phone; $199 for iPhone? Higher price for the new iPhone?) Ugh.


Imagine Engine

The subsidized price of $199.99 for an 8 GB HSPA iPhone or $299.99 for a 16 GB HSPA iPhone is very reasonable considering what other manufacturers are charging carriers for their smartphones such as the Blackberry 8310 Curve, Motorola Q9H, Nokia N95, Palm Treo 750, etc. Also Americans shouldn't be complaining about having a 2 year contract with AT&T as some countries such as Canada will require a 3 year contract to get the same pricing that AT&T is selling for and have a higher ECF (aka: ETF). The ECF on a Voice and Data plan with Rogers here in Canada is $500.00. Though with Rogers the hardware upgrade program is available to customers every 12 months unless on a corporate/business account with EPP (Employee Price Plan) then it's every 24 months.



what vlan2k says is correct. According to our online profile our 1st gen iphones are both eligible for upgrades at any time. Makes sense, considering they were not subsidized. However, I'm expecting to be locked in for the standard two years with no upgrade if I buy the 199 iphone.



It's clear that AT&T is not looking for your loyalty as a customer by treating new ones better than existing ones. They have you locked up for 2 years and put your interests on the back burner in favor of courting new customers.



Actually, AT&T is treating existing customers fairly. Think about it, people who are under a current contract have subsidized phones in which AT&T paid upfront. Current iPhone users were never subsidized and therefore their contracts will become null and void upon renewing with a 3G contract. So it is logical that AT&T would not afford the same pricing to previous subsidized customers.



It depends on what they charge existing customers. My understanding is that all iphones will require a 2 year contract. If they charge existing customers an extra $200 AND require that they extend their contract two years, then it's not really fair IMO. For example, I become eligible for an upgrade in February. Why should I have to extend my contract if I'm paying full price for the iphone? I'm not getting another subsidy, my contract should end when my previous subsidy ends (February).



What's new here is not the contact terms. What's new is the malarkey surrounding the ballyhooed price reduction to $199. There is no price reduction!

Apple & AT&T have merely engineered is really a large shift from initial purchase price to higher carrier rates. AT&T pays Apple more per phone & recovers it from the customer. I've read that the new iPhone's data plan will increase $10 a month for plain folks, and more for corporations. That's $240 on top of the $199 initial outlay over the life of the contract. It's like leasing a car except you don't have return it at the end of the lease period.

This is not unique to AT&T. They all build in a service contract to the price of their phones. Usually you can pay more, $50 to $100 more, to halve your contract life but I haven't heard if AT&T will offer this on the iPhone or at what price.



Cingular / ATT was great in my eyes until I got an IPHONE and they started pecker blocking my IPHONE needs... or wants... I think i will switch fo sho if another carrier gets the iphone eventually ... :/



Talked to an AT&T rep today. It's official... ANY current iPhone user, regardless of how long they've had a contract, will qualify for the subsidized iPhone 3G.

So stop panicking and start planning to camp outside the nearest AT&T store the night of the 10th.

Log in to Mac|Life directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.