January 4, 2011 | by Michael Heller
Verizon is about to change their upgrade policy to make things more annoying for you. Luckily, in an effort to smooth the transition, Verizon is calling the change a “simplification”. Basically, instead of being able to upgrade your phone in months 13 to 20 of your 2-year deal, you’ll be forced to wait until month 20 do make an upgrade. This new policy is set to go into effect on January 16th. The “New Every Two-Years” program is set to be phased out as well.
Likely, this change won’t completely prohibit upgrades, but will probably just add another early upgrade fee into the mix or change the current early upgrade fee policies. What will be interesting is if this changes how manufacturers deal with software upgrades. Manufacturers could drag their heels more on software upgrades, because consumers will be locked into their current phone anyway. Although, on the other side of that, manufacturers may have more reason to push upgrades, since consumers will likely make more noise without the option to buy a newer phone more frequently.
With the speed at which smartphone hardware and software is iterating, this move by Verizon is a push to get more cash. The change will either force consumers to choose a one-year plan and purchase phones with less subsidy, or opt for being locked into one device for 20 months, but getting a larger subsidy on the phone cost. The trouble with Verizon is that unlike T-Mobile, there is no per month price difference between buying a phone full price or on subsidy. So, these changes are simply giving consumers fewer choices and more costs at every turn.