AT&T Streamlines Smartphone Plans

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The next time you go to AT&T for a new smartphone, picking a plan should be a little easier.

That's because the carrier on Monday announced it is narrowing its smartphone purchase and upgrade options from four down to just two: Next and Next Every Year, letting you opt for a lower monthly payment or a quicker upgrade.

The new options will take effect June 9. As its name suggests, Next Every Year lets you upgrade to a new device every year (or after you pay 50 percent of your phone's retail cost) while Next offers upgrade eligibility after two years (or after you've paid 80 percent).

With Next, your monthly payments will be cheaper, though. The plan divides the cost of your phone into 30 monthly payments, compared to 24 on Next Every Year. Meanwhile, with both plans, qualified customers can optionally provide a down payment at the time of purchase to lower their monthly payments.

So, for instance: a $749.99 phone on Next would cost you $25 a month with $0 down, or $17.50 monthly with $225 down. That same handset would cost you $31.25 a month on Next Every Year with $0 down, or $21.88 monthly with $225 down.

Meanwhile, if your 4G connection seems a little slow, AT&T has its eye on 5G. The company, in partnership with Ericsson and Intel, is working on 5G solutions, with plans for outdoor trials over the summer and tests at fixed locations in Austin, Texas before the end of this year. 

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