Sprint debuts new ‘iPhone for Life’ plan with unlimited data and iPhone upgrades every two years

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Sprint has debuted a new iPhone-exclusive plan that allows users to “rent” an iPhone for two years, then upgrade to the newest model for $70 a month (via Bloomberg). The plan allows users to get the latest Apple smartphone for no money down and no tax, then pay $50 a month for unlimited data, texting, and calling, plus $20 each month for the phone, for a total of $70 monthly.

After two years, users will be able to switch to the newest iPhone model. However, because the phone is only being “rented” from the carrier, it must be returned in at the time of upgrade, where customers on a typical two-year contract would be allowed to keep the device after they paid it off.

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Apple fined $670k by Taiwan Fair Trade Commission over iPhone plan pricing

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Apple approximately US$670,000 for its attempts to influence phone pricing set by distributors and service providers in the region. According to a statement from the commission, Apple was forcing at least three carriers to submit pricing plans for iPhone ahead of offering the devices for sale:

“Through the email correspondence between Apple and these three telecom companies we discovered the companies submit their pricing plans to Apple to be approved or confirmed before the products hit the market,” it said in a statement.

The report adds that Apple could face an additional fine of NT$50 million (around $1.7 million US) if it doesn’t change its current methods of negotiating iPhone pricing plans with carriers: Read more

T-Mobile, regional carriers offering iPhone 5s and 5c for $0 down on Black Friday

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Update: It turns out this deal doesn’t provide much of a savings in the long run. T-Mobile is raising the monthly installment from $20 to around $27, so while you won’t have to put any money down up front, you’ll still be paying off the full cost of the device over the 24 month installment plan period.

According to a leaked internal memo posted by TmoNews, T-Mobile is going to be dropping the upfront price of both the iPhone 5s and 5c to $0 down on its usual instalment plans for Black Friday. That cuts the usual down payment for the iPhone 5s down from $149 and the iPhone 5c from $49. The deal will officially kick off on Friday and last through Sunday, but the report notes that “a select number of stores will be accepting orders from Thursday evening.” After getting your iPhone for $0 down, you’ll pay around $20 a month for 24 months on T-Mobile instalment plans.

Some regionals carriers are also gearing up for big discounts this Friday. Appalachian Wireless announced it will offer the 16GB iPhone 5, 5C or 5S for a penny on contract today only and nTelos will also have the iPhone 5c for $0 on Friday. Appalachian is also advertising the penny deal for Black Friday on its site, but no word if iPhones will be included after today. T-Mobile definitely beats Walmart’s best deal with the iPhone 5c for around $45 on contract, but we’re thinking other retailers and carriers might announce iPhone discounts for Black Friday too.

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Apple Stores start selling Retina iPad mini to walk-in customers as regional carriers launch cellular models

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Regional carriers are starting to announce availability for cellular models of Apple’s new Retina iPad mini just as the company today started offering the device to walk-in customers.

Bluegrass Cellular announced today that it is now offering the iPad mini Wi-Fi Cellular models in-store and online. Available on the carrier’s website now starting at the usual $530 for the 16GB model, the carrier is also offering all three models (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB) on its no-contract “Freedom, Expanded” plan. That allows customers to make 12 monthly payments to get the device they want with the ability to trade-in and upgrade to a new device after a year. That plan will run $26.50/month for the 16GB model on Bluegrass, $31.50/month for the $630 32GB model, or $36.50/month for the $730 64GB model. The carrier appears to only have Space Gray models of the device available, at least online, and the Freedom Expanded plans are only available in-store. Another regional carrier, C Spire Wireless, will begin selling the Retina iPad mini over the next week. UpdateU.S. Cellular has also begun cellular iPad mini with Retina Display sales today on its website.

In other Retina iPad mini news, we’ve just received word Apple has just started selling the device to walk-in customers in its retail stores following an initial launch for Personal Pickup orders only.

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‘AT&T Next': Buy new smartphone/tablet yearly, pay over 12 months ($0 down)

AT&T Line

AT&T Line

Following major announcements from T-Mobile and Sprint (and rumors about big device upgrade changes at Verizon Wireless), AT&T has made its “network related” announcement that it teased last week. The company has introduced a new program named “AT&T Next.” Similar to T-Mobile’s new “Un-carrier” offering, AT&T Next allows users to upgrade their smartphone or tablet device each year (T-Mobile, though, allows this to happen twice a year).

“With AT&T Next, customers can get the newest smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. That’s hard to beat, and it’s an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility.

In a change from the typical ways of purchasing a phone upfront with no contract or at a subsidy with a contract, AT&T Next allows a customer to purchase a smartphone or tablet with $0 down payment and pay for the device with a monthly cost. For example, according to AT&T, a customer who wants a Samsung Galaxy S4 can purchase the device with no down payment and pay an extra $32 per month (on top of their standard monthly service bill). More details below:

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Confirmed: Sprint to have unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, 5GB data cap for hotspot

UPDATE: As people noted in the comments, the unlimited $69 a month data plan is really a $79 value because Sprint threw a $10 tax. The $10 smartphone surcharge is also applied to the $99 plan. Let’s not forget about the obligatory $36 activation fee, too. Also, the fine print on Sprint’s web site mentions a 15 percent surcharge and notes that the offer ends October 30, 2011.

Sprint has confirmed with Phone Scoop that they will be offering an unlimited data plan alongside the iPhone 4S. When it goes on sale next week, users can pickup a $69 a month unlimited data plan which includes 450 voice minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling, or a $99 plan which includes both unlimited voice and data. Sprint will be the only US carrier offering an unlimited plan, after AT&T and Verizon dropped theirs, making the deal very tempting. Sprint will also offer the hotspot tethering service but it will have a 5GB cap on that.

Sprint will also sell the iPhone 4 8GB but only AT&T will still sell the free iPhone 3GS.

Meanwhile for those of you interested, SprintFeed has gotten their hands on Sprint’s internal press release for the iPhone 4S. Interestingly, Sprint still doesn’t have the iPhone 4S listed on their site. Check it out after the break:

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Apple looking to build third campus by 2015?

If you haven’t heard by now, plans for construction of Apple’s 175-acre “Spaceship” campus are well under way. A meeting hosted by Cupertino mayor Gilbert Wong to address any community member’s concerns is scheduled for tonight.

However, it now looks like Apple may have plans to build another campus, as Wong told Mercury News that Apple execs have already approached him with plans for a third campus:

Wong said Apple executives have told him the company is expanding so fast that it expects to start working on Apple Campus 3 at an unknown location after they finish the second headquarters in 2015.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. We’re not sure if this is just really early planning for a potential third campus in the future, or if the company has more specific plans. We already know that Apple’s proposed Spaceship campus will be home to 12-13,000 employees.

Perhaps Apple will start moving employees out of Infinite Loop once the spaceship is complete and rebuild a ‘satellite’ campus at that location?

The report from Mercury News also notes that city officials have suggested a sculpture of Steve Jobs be placed on the campus to “honor his contributions as the iconic leader of Cupertino’s biggest taxpayer and cache-maker.” Read more