T-Mobile recently introduced one of the more interesting device upgrade strategies we’ve ever seen. The carrier will allow customers to sign up for a “JUMP!” rate plan that costs $10 per month and allows customers to upgrade to a new smartphone twice a year. You can do this after you’ve been using the JUMP! plan for six months. So is it worth it? Well, yes and no, though we’re leaning toward the former right now. Here’s why.
First, and we know you’ve all experienced this, the mobile industry is moving at such a rapid pace that your phone might feel outdated after just a few months. On any other carrier, your phone definitely feels (and indeed, is) outdated after 24 months.
After that period, Android has likely moved many iterations past the version that’s available for your device, apps might not be supported for various hardware reasons, and you might not have access to the fastest data speeds in some cases. So, in general, it’s really awesome that you’ll be able to upgrade your device twice a year—you’ll always have the latest and greatest, and your smartphone will never be older than six months old. At what cost, though?
Let’s do the math. Say you’re grabbing an HTC One right now from T-Mobile with good credit and a Simple Choice plan. You’re going to spend $99 down for the device hardware cost and $20 per month to pay off that smartphone over the next 24 months. The total cost of the device in that scenario is $579. Now, T-Mobile’s JUMP! plans tack on an additional $10 per month—though that includes full insurance coverage which usually costs $8 per month—and we’re up to $819 for device payments only through the 24 month period, and that includes the $99 down payment. Now, when you upgrade a device every six months, you’re also going to pay the down payment each time for the new device — that’s the same cost that new customers pay, and you’re going to trade in your old device. Assuming you’re paying $99 for each new device, three times over a 24 month period (again, you need to wait six months before you get started), and the amount you’re paying to have the latest technology over the span of 24 months is $1,116.
A look at the numbers:
- $99 down
- 24 months x $20 per month for the device payment: $480
- 24 months x $10 per month for JUMP! Upgrade plan: $240
- Three upgrades each six months until 24 month period is up (remember, you need to wait 6 months before you can start it): $99 x 3 = $396
- Our total comes to $1,116.
That’s not a drop in the bucket—it’s $537 more than you would pay over 24 months keeping that original $579 HTC One we quoted earlier. It’s also similar to the cost of a new phone off contract, though you get to upgrade three more times than you would just buying a phone without any sort of carrier paperwork.
So is it worth it?
For tech geeks like us, sure, it certainly is worth it because JUMP! allows you to stay up on the latest technology and upgrade more frequently for less dough. Is it great for families? That’s going to depend—you’ll need to multiply that $537 difference by each family member, and add the monthly data/voice payment, which is $50 for the first line and $30 for each additional line, though that figure is more expensive if you want additional high-speed data.
Everything adds up really quickly, so the balance comes down to whether or not having the latest and greatest is important to you and if it meets your budget. In either case, we applaud T-Mobile for trying something different and providing an option to its customers.