The Apple Store now will not be able to offer handsets on AT&T’s two-year contract terms. A report from 9to5 Mac, which cites multiple sources, confirms AT&T plans to prohibit third-party retailers, including the Apple Store, from selling handsets on two-year contract terms.
Apple prepared for the change
Now it means that users willing to buy an AT&T iPhone from the Apple Store will have to contend with the AT&T Next plan or pay the full price. It must be noted that Apple added AT&T’s Next plan only last August.
As per the report, Apple is already prepared for the change as it had already started offering the iPhone under AT&T Next plans. Accordingly, the iPhone maker also started preparing its retail employees for the change.
A few days ago, there were reports that AT&T is planning to prohibit local dealers and national retail locations from selling smartphones under two-year contracts. Now third-party retailers will only be left with AT&T Next installment plans. The change is only for third-party stores as AT&T will continue to sell the handsets under the contract in its stores and online.
Few third-party retailers still allowed
AT&T’s plan was also confirmed by an internal Walmart document viewed by FierceWireless. As per the document, the retailer will cease selling AT&T’s contract smartphone starting May 28. Though AT&T didn’t directly confirm the news, but a spokesperson said, “Customers love AT&T Next, and we are continuing to focus on it as the preferred way that customers want to shop. We have two-year plans available for those customers who choose them.”
Under the two-year contract plan, a buyer can get the subsidized hardware by paying an upfront fee. However, in the Next plan, the full cost of the hardware is spread over a pre-determined term, i.e., 12, 18 or 24 months. And after the end of the term, a user has the option to trade in the old device for a new one.
Also an earlier report from Droid-Life, which first informed readers of AT&T’s plans, claimed that a few third-party retailers may still be allowed to offer the two-year contract plan, but now they will not able to sell the hardware. Instead the devices will be shipped from AT&T days later. So technically this option is similar to buying hardware from AT&T online. As of now, it is unclear if Apple can sell the AT&T iPhone using this tweaked method. If not, then the AT&T Next monthly installment plans will be the only options for the mobile carrier left at the Apple Store.