Okay, I am trying to wrap my head around the new mobile share plans. For some reason, I am just "not getting it".

I have a 10GB mobile share plan with 5 lines (5 iPhones). One line (mine) wants to upgrade regularly (ideally yearly) . Another (my wives) wants to do it about every two years. The other three are less concerned, and would probably do it every two years or so depending on cost. In reality, ALL four of the other lines might be interested in upgrading more frequently except for the cost.

So our current plan is $120 per month, plus $30 for each line. I get a 20% discount on the $120, so the total is $246 per month, with two-year agreements for each phone. Phones are eligible for upgrading every two years at a discounted price. I am not including the actual cost of the subsidized phone because I can usually sell my current phone for the price of a new subsidized phone.

If we switch to the new mobile share, at $100 per month, with a $40 charge for a 2-year agreement, the total (including the discount) would be $280 per month. Not a better deal.

But I am trying to figure out this "NEXT" option. With the "NEXT" option, you pay a monthly fee, PLUS 1/20 of the unsubsidized cost of the phone for each line, correct? So the total cost would be $100 (for the 10GB), $15 per line ($75 total), 20% discount, so $155 plus whatever phone charges per line are. So if the monthly charges for the phones are less than $90, then we would be saving money.

Some questions:

1) With NEXT, if we upgrade after 1 year, do we send out existing phone back to AT&T? What if we wait 2 years between upgrades? Is the phone "ours" then? (And we could sell it if we like)

2) Can we pass along "old" NEXT phones after 1 year to another line, and they will continue to pay the 1/20 of the cost? Or can we pass it along after 2 years for free?

3) If someone is on NEXT, and they are eligible for an upgrade, can they upgrade, keep the same phone, and pass the new phone to a new line (sort of line letting another line use the upgrade?)

Quickly doing some math, it doesn't appear to be a better plan. 1/20 of the cheapest iPhone (16GB 4) is $22. Even if all 5 of us did that, that comes to $88, so we would be paying the same, with the only benefit being that every year we get to upgrade to a 2-year old iPhone model. If we start to go for never models (say the 16GB iPhone 5C) it would add 1/20 of $28 per line, or $140 for all of us. Certainly not cheaper, and not really that beneficial since we are all getting the cheapest model of the newest iPhone. We are just paying for the "option" to upgrade each year.

Is there a scenario that someone can envision that would allow me to upgrade my line each year, my wife to upgrade every other year, and the other three lines to upgrade every two or three years that is CHEAPER than our current plan? I can't see one, but that may be because I am getting confused with the numbers.

If we use NEXT, and can keep the phone after two years (and sell it) that might be a factor in changing the price estimates.

Chris

02-02-2014 12:03 PM