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Summary:

On the day of the next generation iPhone launch, AT&T, out of the goodness of its corporate heart (or possibly from fear of a mass exodus to Verizon should Big Red get the iPhone), has moved up the eligibility date for some customers.

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On the day of the next generation iPhone launch, AT&T, out of the goodness of its corporate heart (or possibly from fear of a mass exodus to Verizon should Big Red get the iPhone), has moved up the eligibility date for some customers.

While the details will no doubt be announced at the WWDC Keynote today, anxious iPhone users can find out if they are among the iChosen right now.

Customers can log in to their accounts on AT&T’s website and select the “Check Upgrade Options” link to find their new eligibility date. You can also call “*NEW#” or “*639#” from your iPhone and get sent a text message with eligibility information. However, there may be caveats, at least that was my experience.

I bought an iPhone 3GS last July, so the earliest I expected an upgrade was March 2011, approximately 90 days before my two-year contract would be due to expire. Much to my surprise, as of today I am eligible for a fully subsidized upgrade with no termination penalty, just an $18 upgrade fee and another two years behind AT&T’s more bars in more places.

Unfortunately, my wife was not so lucky. Even though her iPhone 3GS was purchased on the same day, her eligibility date isn’t until March of 2011. A quick call to AT&T explained why. Not surprisingly, it’s about the money. Her iPhone is the add-on to our Family Plan, meaning my iPhone is billed for the voice plan and generates more money for AT&T. My monthly charges are approximately twice hers.

While this is a smart move on AT&T’s part, or possibly Apple bludgeoning its carrier partner into further submission, it’s a little annoying to be “offered” half an upgrade for our family. Not that my annoyance will stop me from taking the deal. Only a Verizon iPhone would do that.

  1. I previously worked for AT&T. Upgrade your phone to the new iPhone HD and once done with that, change your wife to the primary line on the account, she’ll become the account that makes AT&T money, therefore able to upgrade sooner.

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    1. I’m on a family plan right now with my two other friends. im not the primary user and I bought the 3gs last july. I’m currently only eligible for the slightly discounted upgrade(399 for the 16 g and 499 for the 32 g) but was wondering if i switched myself to the primary user if i would become eligible for the full discount upgrade. right now my friend who is the primary user is eligible for the full discount, but he bought his 3g at the end of 08′. we have a 1400 mintute plan with unlimited texting and data for all three phones. thanks for your help

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  2. They offered to waive my $18.00 upgrade fee!

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  3. Oh please. You shouldn’t be getting any upgrade. I had to wait 2 years, which is the contract I signed, to be eligible this year. You’ve waited less than a year and you’re annoyed that ‘only’ one phone is eligible? I hate cell phone companies, but that’s ridiculous. People will complain about anything, even if the complaint is baseless, and that waters down real issues.

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    1. The real issue is why AT&T is doing this. I believe it’s either because Apple is forcing them to as part of the exclusivity deal, or because AT&T expects a Verizon iPhone soon and is trying to lock in more customers. Why shouldn’t I attempt to maximize the benefit to myself because of this situation? I’d be foolish not to.

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    2. Oh please YOU. Why do we have ANY ETFs or upgrade charges when I was charged the full unsubsidized 500 dollar price for the 3GS AND still had my contract renewed. Explain that you AT&T brown noser.

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  4. Just received a text from AT&T saying they will waive my $18.00 upgrade fee ^_^ BlackBerry eat your hearts out

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  5. Got my 3GS in August of 2009 and just checked – they said I qualify for a “discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price. Not sure what that means but right now I’m not taking chances…waiting for January 9, 2011 to do my upgrade.

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  6. Got my 3GS in August of 2009 and just checked – they said I qualify for a “discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price” Not sure what that means but right now I’m not taking chances…waiting for January 9, 2011 to do my upgrade.

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  7. Looks like the NEW# (639#) option is down, and I’m unable to pull my account eligibility up on ATT.com. Is that service down?

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  8. My guess: They do this, so you not only sign up for two more years, but you give up your all-you-can-eat data plan. That makes it worth the upgrade to them, since they hope to make more money as you go over the caps when uploading all the sweet 720p video you just shot and edited on your iPhoneHD…

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    1. AT&T has stated that only new customers will not be able to opt for the unlimited data plan and existing will be able choose to keep the unlimited or go with the two new plans.

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  9. waaaaaait a minute. you are saying i can get a new iphone HD, from my current iphone 3, for $18??? just for signing up for a new 2 year contract which i’d do anyway? i bought my phone 2 yrs ago.

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    1. No, $199 plus $18, duh.

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      1. What? I was of the assumption that the 199 fee is waived!

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  10. If you thought the $199 was waived and you only paid $18 you should be hit in the head with a tack hammer

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  11. Danny Swish Monday, June 7, 2010

    I just did that test thing and their response was everything his said plus they would waive (get rid of) the upgrade fee!!!!!! HURRY I SAVE 20 BUCKS!!!!!!!!!

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  12. I purchased the iPhone 3GS in Sep 2009 and when I checked my eligibility this is what I get -
    “A full discount on a standard handset or iphone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 05/28/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer.”
    WTF – I am the primary subscriber and I do not qualify. As such, I do not have any coverage around my home and when complained several times over phone and by the app “Mark the spot” nothing has changed. AT&T tells me to buy 3GMicro cell at an additional $149.99+taxes and pay additional $20 for 3GMicrocell unlimited calls. As I learn that even 3GMicrocell coverage is pathetic in our area.

    I love the iPhones – but the pathetic coverage by AT&T. So even upgrading to 4G is not going to buy me anything. I would rather have a Verizon iPhone and dump the AT&T service.

    So Apple, if you are listening I am waiting for a Verizon iPhone 4G….

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  13. I purchased the iPhone 3GS in Sep 2009 and when I checked my eligibility this is what I get -
    “A full discount on a standard handset or iphone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 05/28/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer.”
    WTF – I am the primary subscriber and I do not qualify. As such, I do not have any coverage around my home and when complained several times over phone and by the app “Mark the spot” nothing has changed. AT&T tells me to buy 3GMicro cell at an additional $149.99+taxes and pay additional $20 for 3GMicrocell unlimited calls. As I learn that even 3GMicrocell coverage is pathetic in our area.

    I love the iPhone – but the pathetic coverage by AT&T. So even upgrading to 4G is not going to buy me anything. I would rather have a Verizon iPhone and dump the AT&T service.

    So Apple, if you are listening I am waiting for a Verizon iPhone 4G….

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  14. I got mine the day it came out. It’s the only phone on the plan and they texted back full retail pricing. I wonder why.

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  15. can i still upgrade even though i dont have a data plan i texted the number and it said im eligble

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