I received an email this morning about the latest Verizon deal for a free 5G phone and felt it was PSA time after reading its terms. This special deal is similar to another recently launched Verizon promo, only for new and existing customers Any Unlimited planning. That’s the deal itself, but I can’t help but notice that these contracts are part of Verizon’s new 3-year contract payment plan. I hope everyone is ready to lock the phone for 3 years.
This is a 3 year contract in the guise of a contract
We saw Verizon accept a 3-year contract in February, where they replaced the 24-month and 30-month device payment plans with a 36-month option. When buying a phone your choice is now to buy a full price or sign-up for a 3-year loan. You cannot choose different levels of payment, be it one or the other.
For this latest deal, Verizon is using those 3 year plans and a free phone offer to keep you close for a while. Not that many of us change our carriers often, but it does mean that you pay for your new phone for 36 months. There is no way out of them. You can’t afford to pay more each month to try and finish quickly. Your only option for finishing a payment plan is to pay the rest of the phone one by one. You cannot use the phone as an upgrade before paying for it.
Such deals fall into the Bill Credit section, where Verizon lets you sign up for a 3-year payment plan that guarantees 3 years of service and then gives you a monthly refund for covering the phone. You know how I feel about this “deal”.
3 years is a long time, choose wisely
But look, phones are now incredibly expensive and can cost you up to $ 900 or $ 1,000. A 3-year payment plan can help reduce monthly costs and get more people on better phones. My caution for those of you who are considering a 3-year deal is to consider who the phone maker is and what they offer in terms of software support. You need at least 3 years of software support, obviously.
Samsung is a good example of a phone maker with which you can feel comfortable. Samsung will update a phone like the Galaxy S22 Ultra for the next 5 years. Apple will do the same with their new phones. Google will do at least 4 years. You know who wouldn’t? Motorola. OnePlus may be scattered with their support. I’m not sure if anyone else makes phones, so those are your options.
The age of the phone you are buying should also be considered. Don’t buy a one year or 2 year old phone on a 3 year contract. This phone has already reached the end of its service life by a few years and you may be out of support when you finish paying for it. Bought New-new This is going to be your best bet if you sign a 3-year contract.
Another thing you should do is enter a store and try to play with some phone. Again, 3 years is a really long time and you like the software a lot. From Samsung to OnePlus to Google to iPhones, everyone offers quite a different experience with a set of different features. Google and Apple are often the minimum, while Samsung will give you more than you manage.
Anything else to consider accessories. In case of case or other accessories, there is no end in sight for Apple and Samsung phones. Since they sell the most phones, the accessory manufacturers are not afraid to create all sorts of fun things to use with them. But for Google or OnePlus, you might even struggle to find a handful of quality options. It’s changing something for Google’s Pixel Line, thanks.
It’s not just Verizon doing it
I know I chose Verizon a little above because it persuaded me to post this because of their contract, but I understand that AT&T is also doing a 3-year deal. T-Mobile doesn’t exist at the moment, even if they flirted with the idea a few years ago. It’s hard to imagine a world where T-Mobile never rejoins, because it’s clear where this industry is going.
All familiar words? When T-Mobile merged with Sprint, we joked that having 3 major carriers would bring a Canada wireless experience. Canada, for those who are not familiar, had a 3-year wireless service contract and was often criticized for not being a highly-competitive wireless industry. The Canadian Wireless Regulatory Authority appears to have forced carriers to terminate 3-year service plans (or at least 2-year cancellation fees) and (most recently) 3-year device payment plan schemes.
Since the United States is only starting with a 3-year agreement and there has not been enough anti-competitive talk around them, this is a situation we need to be accustomed to or at least be aware of.