T-Mobile promised bold moves and today it's introducing a pretty radical idea, albeit one you have to pay to utilize.
The "UN-carrier" is introducing a club of sorts called Jump! (we'll drop the "!" now) that will let customers upgrade their phones up to twice a year after six months of enrollment in the program. There is a fee tied with the service, amounting to $10 per month, per phone in addition to taxes and fees.
"Today we are going to attack what I think is the single most offensive wireless practice head on," CEO John Legere said in during a long-winded introduction to Jump, which apparently stands for "Just Upgrade My Phone" or "John, Upgrade My Phone."
Jump gets off the ground July 14. The program is financed through the Equipment Installment Program (EIP, or the same financing program offered to new customers) and lets users trade in a "good working condition," eligible T-Mobile phone.
Remaining EIP payments will be eliminated, the company said. T-Mobile promises that current customers will pay the same upfront price for new phones as new customers. A "simple test" will be performed in-store, said Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's CMO, but phones with issues like water damage need not apply.
While the company didn't explicitly say there's a cut off for how old a phone can be, Sievert said that old phone owners may as well upgrade instead of going into the Jump program.
The new program offers protection against lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning phones, good news if you drop it down the toilet, as Legere suggested.
If you're wondering whether T-Mobile actually plans to make money off of the program, the answer is, unsurprisingly, yes. As Sievert tells it, the $10 fee goes towards insurance for the phone, while selling refurbished phones that include Galaxies and iPhones will keep the carrier in the black.
T-Mobile's move pits it directly against competitors AT&T and Verizon, which each have a 24-month upgrade cycle. AT&T recently went from a 20-month upgrade period to 24 month, echoing the 2-year contract agreement length.
Sprint offers a 22-month upgrade interval for those who activated or last upgraded their device before Oct. 2, 2011, and a 20-month period for upgrades or activations on or after that date.
Back in March, the carrier introduced its Simple Choice plans, offering different tiers of cellular service starting at $50 a month for unlimited voice and text, plus 500MB of data. While there's a monthly fee, users aren't tied down by a two-year contract, which Legere coarsely called "bull****." as he introduced T-Mobile's UN-carrier ways.
Phones, including high-end devices such as the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4, are also now available for a down payment price plus monthly payments.
T-Mobile is also introducing a new family option tied to its Simple Choice plans, allowing families to get up to four plan lines with unlimited talk, text, web and up to 500MB of data for $100 a month.
There's no credit check or annual service contract required, the T-Mo team outlined.
Family customers will have to put down a deposit, so there's a price to pay for skipping the hassle of a credit check. The deposit will be roughly equivalent to one month's bill.