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iPhone 3G S: AT&T upgrades, returns, pricing

updated 08:15 pm EDT, Mon June 8, 2009

iPhone 3G S upgrade

Following the announcement of the new iPhone 3G S AT&T has released details on its upgrade program for customers who are not yet entitled to a full hardware upgrade. Customers who have had their phone for less than 18 months will see an additional $200 added on to the price of each model. This means anyone who purchased an iPhone 3G last year will have to pay $399 for the new 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB model. Those who upgrade will also be required to sign on to a new 2 year plan and will be subject to an additional $18 upgrade fee. AT&T notes that can still purchase the new phone at a "no-commitment" cost of $599 and $699 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively.

Customers who recently purchased an iPhone 3G from AT&T are in luck as the company is extending its return policy and offering the iPhone 3G S at the same eligibility pricing level, but those who purchased from an Apple Store may not receive the same treatment: although iPhones purchased from Apple carry a 14-day policy, a return may not restore a customer's upgrade eligibility. Two different Apple retail stores told MacNN that customers should look to AT&T for direction on keeping their number (after a return) as well as determining upgrade eligibility on future purchases and neither the Apple retail stores nor AT&T was able to confirm whether upgrade eligibility would be restored after a recently purchased iPhone 3G was returned to an Apple Store.

For AT&T customers, the carrier has told MacNN that it will be extending its usual 30-day return policy to allow any customer that purchased an iPhone 3G after May 9th to upgrade to the new iPhone 3G S. These customers will receive credit for the amount they paid and will only be charged a difference in price if they decide to move up a model. To qualify for this extended customers must go to an AT&T store and order the iPhone 3G S prior to June 18.

Some customers may have more success when determining AT&T's early upgrade eligibility: the carrier's website notes that "Equipment discounts are available from time to time based on a number of factors: service tenure, spending levels, payment history, usage practices, and other factors." This indicates that some customers might be eligible for cheaper upgrade plans and should check their eligibility online.

In addition, Apple is now allowing the iPhone 3G S to be pre-ordered through its online store and promises delivery on June 19th or users can make a reservation to pick up an iPhone 3G S on June 19th. (According to the website, customers can also ensure that they will receive their new phone on its release date by going to a local Apple store and pre-ordering it there as well.)

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Sounds like a typical cell phone equipment deal, with an 18 month refresh in some cases rather than 24. Shrug.

    ...and of course, class action lawsuits in 3...2...1...

  1. jamesfabin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Punishing early adopters

    I purchased an iPhone the first day it came out. Then I upgraded to the iPhone 3G the first day it came out. Today I called AT&T to confirm I can upgrade my phone on the day the iPhone 3GS comes out - NO they say unless I pay $200 more for the phone plus an $18 upgrade fee. I paid Verizon an early termination fee to move to AT&T - not too happy AT&T isn't going to allow me to upgrade. I just want to upgrade 1 of my 3 accounts (all iPhone 3G) - but they said no. The only good news is that I can upgrade 3 weeks AFTER the phone comes out for an undetermined mark-up. I hope enough people are unsatisfied with the poor level of customer service that AT&T realizes to allow the early adopters to upgrade (remaining early adopters).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: punishing

    Yes, why do they insist you honor your contract? Or that they actually want to recoup their costs for subsidizing the phone for you.

  1. TheBum

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To all the naysayers: welcome to the wonderful world of subsidies. Paying a subsidized price is akin to making a down payment on a car: you still have the make the monthly payment until the car is paid off. The alternative is for the carriers to charge you the full price of the phone.

    The one thing I do take issue with is the continuance of the same monthly rates once the contract is fulfilled. I think the carriers should be required to remove the subsidy payment portion of the monthly rate once the phone is paid off.

  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lost Sales

    I'm actually surprised that Apple is letting AT&T get away with this one. Both my brother and I switched from Sprint and bought iPhone 1 on the first day it was available. We also both upgraded to iPhone 3G on the first day IT was available. We full well intended to upgrade to iPhone 3GS when it became available as well, but for a $200 premium, forget it. In other words, Apple is going to lose at least two sales right out of the gate. Plus, I have a feeling that the 3GS is one of those things that given a little "cooling off" period, I may not be be as inclined to upgrade to...

  1. b9robot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    AT&T is always the block

    AT&T is always the block. Apple should move onto other carriers do to AT&T's lack of support. They're behind now and never seem to catch up and want to charge for everything at ridiculous prices.

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Round and Round

    What is the $18 upgrade fee all about. AT&T does not show the White phones as upgrades. It is obvious that something is going on between Apple and AT&T. AT&T on line support is the same old circular run around.
    Simple sample question:
    (Have two 2G iPhones eligible for upgrade. Have two 3G iPhones ineligible for upgrade. Can we upgrade the two eligible phone but change the numbers around?)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Round and round

    What is the $18 upgrade fee all about.

    Just another fee ATT tacks on to iPhone users. I'm sure its because they think Apple users feel they need/expect to pay more for a service or product, and make sure they add in as many fees as possible to increase their profit margins.

    It's not like they charge that for upgrading from any phone to another one. What? They do? Oh, never mind...

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Former AT&T chief to lead reorganized GM
    Detroit Free Press - 23 minutes ago
    By TIM HIGGINS FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER June 9, 2009 When the reconstituted General Motors emerges from bankruptcy reorganization, Edward E. Whitacre Jr.
    GM Names Former AT&T Chief Whitacre as New Chairman Bloomberg

  1. michaele

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Typical gouging

    Not that they are better on fees, but I wouldn't upgrade now anyway because the second Verizon gets the iphone (which is going to happen) I am saying adios to AT&T. There service and coverage sucks and I am in a major urban are. They have a 3G tower in sight of my house and I barely get a signal.

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