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AT&T Not Allowing Early Upgrade to iPhone 4s

Bad news for early adopters of the iPhone 4 on AT&T. I just checked my early upgrade eligibility on the Apple website for my AT&T account and it states that I cannot upgrade to the iPhone 4s at a discount till November 25th 2011.

Even though, last year AT&T had allowed users with current iPhones to upgrade early to the iPhone 4, it looks like this year they may not be allowing it. If the carriers do not allow users with iPhone 4′s that got them at release to update to the 4s at a discount, Apple’s iPhone 4s sales will undoubtedly suffer.

I have emailed AT&T PR for a response, I will let you know if they update me but don’t get your hopes up yet.

Update: Got a response from AT&T, No Dice:

Hi there – we aren’t making changes to our upgrade policy.

You can check eligibility online or on the new AT&T Upgrader App, out
soon. This makes upgrading to iPhone easier and faster than ever before.
And, let’s you preorder right from your handset starting Friday, October
7.  Later today, existing iPhone customers can download the app from the
App Store and our other customers can visit www.att.com/phoneupgrade.
There’s no need to visit our stores – let the app do the work for you -
upgrade and preorder right from your phone. The app tells you if you’re
upgrade eligible for iPhone 4S – and – beginning Friday, helps you place
your preorder.

Learn more the author of this post:

Matt
I was a Computer and Information Technology student at Purdue University. I have always wanted my own website and have been fascinated with technology my entire life. So here I am, what's next?
  • Eric Linder

    Yep, I saw this too and it’s quite disappointing. Would love to know if you find out anything!

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    Well, We reached out to AT&T but they have never responded to us in the past.

  • ben gregg

    I called them and talked to a manager who said “no dice.”

  • Matt Finch

    I bought a new iPhone 4 right after launch. I logged into AT&T today and was surprised to see I was eligible for upgrade. A few of my friends reported they were also eligible for upgrade.

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    Did you check the actual date though?

  • Matt Finch

    Eligibility Status
    901-XXX-XXXX is eligible for a discounted upgrade.This line is eligible for equipment discount pricing when you sign up for a 2-year service agreement. You can also take advantage of our no-commitment pricing option.

    It then gives me an option to continue directly to the store and I see iPhone 4′s and iPhone 3GS’s at upgrade prices ($0.00 for 3GS and $199 for iPhone 4).

    Maybe it is because I have a premier account? I’m not sure. I actually wasn’t expecting an upgrade, but it prompted me with it when I logged in.

  • Tony Vieceli

    I know of people who ARE eligible for an iPhone upgrade on release day who bought an iPhone 4 on it’s release day.  How AT&T is selecting who can and can’t upgrade is a mystery.  Funny thing is that they want to charge $250 to upgrade, and for $190 you can pay the ETF and go to Verizon.  AT&T needs to practice their math skills.

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    They said it could be related to many things like feature changes etc… makes no sense really.

  • ben gregg

    If you have more than one line on your account you are eligible for upgrade sooner. 

    My ETF is only $175 so switching to Verizon or Sprint is a no-brainer.  AT&T basically told me they were betting that I wouldn’t lose my grandfathered unlimited data plan over the extra price and/or 6-week wait.  (They’re betting wrong.)

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    Yeah I never did like the 2-year contracts anyways. They should allow you to upgrade after the first year.

  • Anonymous

    According to Apple’s upgrade checker, I can’t upgrade until Feb 2012.  But according to AT&T’s upgrade checker (att.com/phoneupgrade), I’m eligible for upgrade now.  Very confusing.

  • Jesse Quinonez

    Makes no sense i bought my iPhone 4 on its release date last year and this year I’m not eligible for a early upgrade but other people are, How does att choose 

  • http://getyourgadgetsgoing.com Tristan Thomas

    Simple. Last year only ATT had the iPhone. 

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    It seems AT&T is retaliating against its loyal users that stuck with the network the entire time. I did not switch to Verizon but I still cannot upgrade my iPhone when I want to.

  • Julien Deveraux

    It’s simple, if you subscribe to unlimited everything and have since Day 1; the you are eligible as of last June.  If you don’t (like most of us) then your upgrade eligibility is November 20-30 depending on when you got your iPhone 4.  This is a really really bad PR move on AT&T’s part; so my hope is that by tommorow; they honor their previous tradition of allowing early upgrades for everyone who go iPhone 4 on Day 1 since we’re all less than 6 months away from the date.

  • Anonymous

    This is a GREAT reason to leave att & apple. Prediction: Samsung galaxy S2 #1 selling phone for 2012.

  • Anonymous

    You’re a moron.  Go back and play with your piece of crap droid phone and your even shittier Windows PC

  • Anonymous

    It depends upon how long you’ve been a customer and your credit history with them.  It’s a no-brainer, everyone!  If you call AT&T and you’re a good customer chances are they’ll allow you to upgrade at the lowest, subsidized price.  If you recall they did the same thing last year with the release of the iPhone 4 but ended up relaxing the early upgrade rule.  Stop whining and do some of your own leg work — get on the phone with AT&T or witch to crappy Verizon or Sprint.  BUT ABOVE ALL ELSE — STOP YOUR WHINING!

  • Anonymous

    I had an iphone before your momma accidentally conceived you through butt sex. You obviously enjoy the big dick of att & apple shoved up your hole. Bend over & enjoy.

  • Robert Broussard

    Matt, what kind of plan do you have?  I bought on day one as well my bill is about $100 per month or just over….  I just got off the phone with ATT they said basically NO…..  on the early upgrade but that my paying more than $90 month puts me in the top tier of customers or some such.

  • Anonymous

    Way to go AT&T – shooting yourself in the foot. AT&T will undoubtedly be losing business not only because of no early upgrade eligibility, but now they’ll be losing their iPhone customers to Sprint and Verizon.  Perhaps that’s why AT&T is so anxious to get their claws on TMobile.

    The next thing you know AT&T will disallow the grandfathered unlimited data people. Just you wait.

  • http://twitter.com/njpannos Nick Pannos

    I also called and spoke to a manager.  I’ve had an iphone since the first generation and have religiously upgraded every year.  They still said I have to wait until February to upgrade.  They blamed it on scams and fraud with people ordering new phones, whatever the hell the means. 

    It’s 90 bucks for me to cancel my contract, but I really don’t feel like moving to Verizon due to the CDMA network and not being able to use voice/data at the same time.  I hope they realize how much of a mess this will be and how many customers they are going to lose

  • Sean McCabe

    Actually you are totally wrong.  It all just depends on how long it’s been since you last renewed your contract.  My 2 year contract has another year to go and they AT&T is allowing me an early upgrade, I just checked.

  • Sean McCabe

    OK never mind I guess it’s different for everyone, but it’s weird it’s saying my upgrade fee would only be $18, has anyone else seen this?

  • Sean McCabe

    Hmm or maybe they are only allowing it to people who are still grandfathered in on unlimited data, like i am,  and trying to force us to upgrade our plan by waving an iphone 4s in our face.  Only time will tell, but if they do , well played salesmen, because I’ll totally upgrade as it would still be my cheapest option for a 4S.

    Sorry for posting so much, I’ll shut up now.

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    Yeah I would really like to know if he was actually qualified because it says that for me too until you proceed past that point then it says NOPE!

  • Daniel Corver

    I’m grandfathered in too, my upgrade date is Nov 19th.  It’s nuts and doesn’t make financial sense on their part.  The money they would earn by making me wait an extra month and 5 days is at best 50% of the $250 drop in price.  So just over a $100 is worth disappointing and frustrating loyal customers?  Especially when we have all been able to upgrade on day 1 of the new release for the past 3 years?

  • http://twitter.com/mbgsocr03 Michael

    It all depends on how long its been since your last upgrade, how many lines, and how much you pay att each month.  Getting to upgrade early and being allowed an early upgrade are completely different.  Doing an early upgrade will cost you $199 + an additional 250 for the early upgrade.  Like someone posted there is also an $18 upgrade fee that is billed.  Just some fyi, even if a customer service rep says u can take advantage of the upgrade price, if they dont note it the stores wont honor.  Now quit posting stupid crap and learn for yourself.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L3P76XRDGYDI2BN6I37L3O3VR4 CR7

    So does this mean i can get a 16Gig iPhone 4s for 449 and not sign a contract?

  • Michael Jehamy

    To  Daniel Corver and all the rest that are upset. My wife and I have both had At&t since the 3G iPhone. For the 3Gs we were able to upgrade at the same time. For the iPhone 4 we were able to upgrade at the same time. We bought the last two phones on launch date no reserve. We pay for two lines unlimited minutes and text messaging since day one. We are also both grandfathered in to unlimited data. This year I have to wait until November 25 but the store can do it for November 1st they said because its within the same month. I think its still crap them pulling this month apart crap this year. It makes me wonder if there is going to be a release of a possible iPhone 5 later this year or in June/July? I’m pissed and would seriously consider going to another carrier if it weren’t for the cancellation changes. Did you know they raised it from 175 minus 5 dollars a month for each month you have service to 325 minus 10 dollars a month you have the idevice?! Total bs and I’m ery unhappy with At&t and Apple. Shame on you both to know you don t care about treating your customer the same. See if I even buy an iPhone and not get mad enough to switch!

  • http://twitter.com/JSayTweet JJ Sereday

    I have had every single iPhone from the day they were each released. Each time there was a deal where you could take advantage of the subsidized upgrade prices by signing another two year agreement. Normally when you sign a cell phone contract it is for one or two years and cost of phone at purchase will depend on whether it was for one year (more expensive) or two years. When you sign a two year contract you are eligible for an upgrade between 18-22 months (depending on account status, bill pay, and feature changes). You can receive a lesser discount (early upgrade) between 11 and 18 months.

    That is the case with most cell phones… the iPhone has changes their game plan a little and has evolved over the yearsQuick breakdown.

    iPhone 1st Gen: Bought straight out – full price. Apple eventually offered a $100 gift card to early adopters because of complaints when the price dropped.

    iPhone 3G: Every iPhone customer was eligible for an upgrade because they paid for your original iPhone at full price.

    iPhone 3Gs: AT&T had a deal that you could upgrade early to receive the new 3Gs if you had an iPhone 3G and spent more than $100 a month on your bill. (if you had a family plan with 2 phones costing between $100 -200, only the primary would be eligible for the early iPhone upgrade)

    iPhone 4: If you had purchased an iPhone 3Gs within the first month of its release or where within 30 days of an upgrade you then were eligible for a complete upgrade.

    iPhone 4s: (This is where AT&T begins to abide by their old upgrade program) You are only eligible for an upgrade after 16-20 months (depending on account status, bill pay, and feature changes). So if you had purchased the iPhone 4 on the release date (like i had) you will have to wait until at least mid November to upgrade to the new iPhone. (it is November 15th me, many are saying November 25th.)

    All of this is to the best of my knowledge. I may not be 100% accurate, so feel free to correct me if I am wrong but hopefully it clears a few things up for others.

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    I believe so but you should confirm with at&t

  • http://twitter.com/johnp30 johnp30

    No it means you can sign a contract, and you will get a ‘reduced discount’ of 449.  They will charge you the contract price of 199.00 plus a 250.00 early upgrade fee–but you will still be locked into a contract for 2 more years.  An unlocked iPhone is available, but they start at 649.00 directly from Apple’s website.  If you will be eligible on 11/25, I would just wait.

  • Joe Shepherd

    I waited in line at the Apple store with my buddy last year for the iPhone 4. A few months later both our wives upgraded to the 4. Now he and he wife are eligible for the upgrade, and me and my wife are not. I have been with att 3 times longer then him, I have never missed a payment, and we have a more expensive plan then them. We pay roughly $170 a month, and they are on the cheapest family plan. It makes no sense! I chatted with ATT and they said I needed to call in, so I tried calling, and finally gave up because I could never get through to a rep (not that it even would have helped by the sounds of it). The real bummer for me is that my wife dropped her phone 2 nights ago and now the screens all busted up. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZCYJQ3QJVCIUKD7HTPSI6ZPEFQ Mongo

    i have the unlimited plan and have been here since day one, they told me 12-25-2011 to upgrade… att is dropping the ball here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ANEQP7MPNF5G35ZKSDIMQKFWIA Huh What

    Maybe this is something to try for all you who want to upgrade early. A friend of mine bought his i4 when it was released, so technically not eligible for a discount. He just pre ordered at the APPLE STORE APP  on his iphone thinking of paying with no discount. His bill came out to be the discounted price. He has the email confirmation and everything. I’m not upgrading so can’t say it works. Feel free to try tho.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ANEQP7MPNF5G35ZKSDIMQKFWIA Huh What

    Hey regarding your screen busting. Just take it to an apple store and they will replace it even when it’s out of warranty. I did it with mine and so did my friend. I looked upset and told them it was advertised as same material as the helicopter windshield, so how could it break so easily. It seems they expected this, and the clerk told me they do one time courtesy replacement even when out of warranty. They gave me a brand new one.

  • Julien Deveraux

    no dice, they won’t budge unless i open a case with them. I did that and in the meantime, as I expected, they sold out.  Douchebags, I’m not bothering to upgrade this year–forget it. Jerks.

  • Anonymous

    I had the same prob att in July tried to upgrade me to a 4g phone because my upgrade was ready in aug. I told them I wanted to wait for the iPhone. I went to the store to pre order and they told me I had to wait to to April. So I went crazy. What happen was We switch are plan in my wife’s name because she gets a discount and it pushed are date back and they never told us. Any way I called att 2 times and demanded that they give me iPhone 4s it took 3 hours but they told me to go on oct 14 and stand in line and if I was lucky to get one that I can get my discount price. I was seconds away from leaving att. I Told them that the iphone is on two other networks and they don’t hold the chips any more. They tired everything they could to make me happy. They told me I can have any phone for free but just not a iPhone I told them to fuck off and fuck android that I was apple for life. So don’t give up we pay them money they don’t pay us. At the end of it all I got $10 knocked off my bill for life and $20 extra for for 3 months and the iPhone. So best of luck to you.

  • Anonymous

    I ALWAYS get an early upgrade every 12 months at the subsidized price. I did this with 3g, 3gs, and 4. You have to physically stop by the store or call in and ask for the early upgrade option. Online, you won’t find this information (including apple’s site). It’s a way to prioritize new customers/new lines. It is available, if you ask. You will be bumped another 24 month contract but you will always have the option to upgrade early. (>6 months).

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    I would like to see if anyone else has luck with this approach that has a November 25th upgrade date.

  • http://twitter.com/iamShyran Chris B

    i tired that and it doesn’t work, they won’t do it for the iPhone 4s. They will for any other phone though. 

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    AT&T’s decision just makes no sense, I really hope they reverse it soon. However they are already sold out of iPhone 4S units.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6374DEM7MI4II5DMGNTQ5VYH2Q Kelsey Jenkins

    Ok, Here is a fix..it worked for me. Kind of complicated, but here you go. Every year my wife and I order the iphone and get it on launch day. This year for whatever reason, my line is not eligibile for upgrade until February, while hers (The main line) is eligible for upgrade immediately. I spent about 2 hours each day last week from tuesday-thursday trying to get someone at At&t Customer service to change it.

    Well, then I got a bright idea. At&t says you can check your upgrade status by pushing *639# from your iphone then hitting call. As soon as you get a message that reads, “Thank you, your request is being processed. A message will be sent to your phone.” Take a screen shot, push the top power button and home button at the same time. This will save that photo to your camera roll. Then you’ll get a text from 108 (which is at&t). It’ll say your not eligibile for a full iphone upgrade at this time, however they can offer you one at either for retail or at $449.
    Type this message into the response to that
    As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.

    You will get a response on another message saying invalid number. Delete that.

    So when you go to your text messages, you should have a message from 108 that says
    As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.
    Next I would call customer service and explain the message. Offer to email them the message (I wouldnt email that one as it will show you sent it) I would do some photoshopping of the photo before you send it to them. Anyhow just see if they think if you go into an AT&T store to verify the message that they will give make your line eligible to upgrade at the $199 price.
    Next go to the At&t store, try and get someone young and cool to view and document the message on your At&t account. Once they do, come back later and ask to pre order the iphone 4s. Tell them someone at AT&T documented your account of your message you received from ATT and that you need to get your upgrade over road at the store per Att Business Relations.This worked for me..please report your results on this message board. I was able to pre order my iphone on friday morning (I was the first person in the At&t store, they didnt even check my phone for the message again.

    (The beauty of this all is, when you call into customer support, they can actually check and see if att sent you a message at the time that you claim, it will show they did, but they cant view what it says, so your story is alot more plausable).

    Another option is to have someone you know who is eligibile for the upgrade sent the *639# request to att at the same time as you. When they get their message that shows they are available for an upgrade, have them text it to you, and save the screenshot on your phone to show att.

    Your last option is to pay either the early upgrade fee of $250 or pay full retail. Either of which I could of done, I just think that for my wife’s line to be upgradeable and mine to not be was unfair. We both got our phones on the same day. I know we were both under the same contract on the same account, but I’m supprised it is not discrimmatory to allow some to upgrade and not others.     

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6VLXBLXW5DSQBZWOJBVQH7GILU Riley Jacobs

    Just wanted to say that like 2 weeks ago I upgraded from a Iphone 4 early to a LG phone, I hated it so on the 7th I went back to at&t and returned it and used the money to pre order my iphone 4s, I think they can give you a early upgrade on other phones then when you return it the system thinks you are just exchanging for a different phone and you keep the early upgrade, not sure if this will work for every one but I’m glad I tried to get a different phone or I probably would have a 4s on the way right now

  • Joe Shepherd

    I tried getting Apple to replace it and they told me my only option was to buy a new one. In the store ATT told me to pay a guy in the mall to replace the screen. On web chat ATT told me to buy a go phone to use until I can upgrade. I have read alot of stories of people who had really awesome success working with ATT and Apple over busted screens, but I haven’t seen that at all.

  • Anonymous

    My upgrade date for the 4S is in Feb. 2012.  The customers service rep explained that even as an early adopter (having pre-ordered the iPhone 4), I’d have to wait 20 months.  I mentioned that many people are posting there upgrade is in Nov. 2011 (as you did).  There was no explanation why this date in only 17 months from day one of the iPhone 4 release.  I have a friend who got the best discount on the 4S even though he pre-ordered the 4 the same time I did.  Only thing I can think of is that he pays over $100/month on an individual plan and I pay $68/month after my corporate discount and lower minutes plan. Special treatment for the 1%?

    Having been with AT&T since it was Cingular (and every iPhone except the 3G), means nothing to them. If Verizon had a unlimited data plan available now, I’d jump ship now.  But right now both of the carriers are acting like the Netflix of wireless carriers!

  • Anonymous

    My upgrade date for the 4S is in Feb. 2012.  The customers service rep explained that even as an early adopter (having pre-ordered the iPhone 4), I’d have to wait 20 months.  I mentioned that many people are posting there upgrade is in Nov. 2011 (as you did).  There was no explanation why this date in only 17 months from day one of the iPhone 4 release.  I have a friend who got the best discount on the 4S even though he pre-ordered the 4 the same time I did.  Only thing I can think of is that he pays over $100/month on an individual plan and I pay $68/month after my corporate discount and lower minutes plan. Special treatment for the 1%?

    Having been with AT&T since it was Cingular (and every iPhone except the 3G), means nothing to them. If Verizon had a unlimited data plan available now, I’d jump ship now.  But right now both of the carriers are acting like the Netflix of wireless carriers!

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    There is always Sprint :)

  • http://www.tekgoblin.com Sanity

    I wouldn’t recommend anyone do the above steps but if it works for you, more power to you.

  • Anonymous

    I waited until last week 1-28-2012 to order a 4S Verizon phone from Apple.  UPS deliver my new Verizon phone yesterday 2-1-2012.  My first call on my new Verizon 4S to AT&T customer service to terminate my AT&T account, they insisted that I talk to some shirt before they would ALLOW me to terminate early (cost me 72$ for early termination), I delighted in telling the shirt that the $250 extra gouge to get a 4S was bull pucky, and told him which of his bodily openings he could stuff it up. the remainder of the conversation was short and to the point.  It was worth the 4 month wait to get the satisfaction of pissing the jerk off. I was able to sell my AT&T iPhone 4 for $185, so I covered 50% of the cost of my new Verizon 4S.

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