If you upgrade every other year, you're paying an extra $390 over two years — $150 for the additional phone and $240 for Jump. Again, this assumes you would have upgraded anyway after two years. If you would have gotten insurance anyway, it's $198.
Bottom line: Get it only if you already plan to get insurance or if you want a new phone before 16 months.
— NEXT, from AT&T Inc.
Availability: Coming this Friday.
How it works: There's no down payment or upgrade fee. You simply pay the full cost of the phone over 20 months. For instance, the full retail price of the Galaxy S4 is $640, or $32 a month. You're eligible to exchange your phone for a new one in 12 months. Payments stop after 20 months if you decide to keep the phone.
If you lose or damage your phone: Insurance is not included, so you're responsible for that. The phone you turn in must be working and in good physical condition —so no cracked screens.
If you just want an upgrade: After 12 months, you can turn in the old phone for a new one. After 20 months, you keep the old phone when you upgrade.
The catch: You're essentially paying twice for the phone.
Cost analysis: Normally, you pay $200 up front, so for a $640 phone, you're paying $440 extra per device to upgrade every year instead of every two years. If you do upgrade, payments don't stop after 20 months. Over two years, those monthly fees add up to $568 above the $200 you would have normally paid.
Without the plan, you could simply break the contract after 12 months and pay $478 for a new phone and for activation, termination and upgrade fees. You can also make about $300 of that back by selling the old phone. With AT&T Next, you have to turn in that phone to receive your upgrade.
Bottom line: Get it only if you plan to upgrade once a year and don't want to deal with the hassle of reselling your old phone.
— EDGE, from Verizon Wireless
Availability: Coming Aug. 25.
How it works: It's similar to AT&T Next, except you're spreading the cost over 24 months. The full price of the Galaxy S4 is $650 at Verizon, so that's about $27 a month. You can get a new phone in six months, rather than the full year under AT&T's plan. Payments stop after 24 months if you keep the phone.
If you lose or damage your phone: Like AT&T's plan, Verizon Edge doesn't include insurance. Phones must be in working condition and can't have damage such as cracked screens.
If you just want an upgrade: After six months, you can upgrade your phone by turning the old one in. After 24 months, you keep the old phone.
The catch: You're essentially paying twice for the phone. In order to upgrade, you must already have paid at least 50 percent of the cost of the phone. You hit that threshold after one year, so if you upgrade six months early, you have six months of payments to make right away to be eligible. Your new phone comes with new installment payments, even though you've just covered the next six months of payments. You're essentially doubling the payments over those six months.
Also, it's open only to those on Share Everything plans. Customers still on Verizon's older, unlimited data plans are not eligible and must switch to a limited-use plan to participate.