Apple stores begin selling & activating prepaid T-Mobile iPhones (Update: AT&T GoPhone too)

iPhone-5s-test-drive

Update #2: AT&T’s official statement: 

AT&T GoPhone prepaid service is now available in Apple Retail stores. Prepaid service is also available for iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 4S in AT&T and Cricket Wireless stores and online at att.com and at cricketwireless.com.

Update: A contact has confirmed that AT&T’s prepaid GoPhone plans are also supported by iPhones at Apple Retail Store locations as we previously reported to expect…

Following our report earlier this month that Apple was preparing to begin selling iPhones with prepaid plans through its retail stores, today T-Mobile confirmed iPhones with its prepaid service can now be purchased and activated in Apple stores across the country.

To go along with the launch, T-Mobile will offer discounts in the form of $50 off the device for prepaid plans and a $50 iTunes gift card for iPhones activated on its Simple Choice postpaid plans.

T-Mobile customers can now purchase and activate an iPhone with T-Mobile prepaid service in more than 250 Apple stores across the nation. In addition, for a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone with T-Mobile prepaid service can get $50 off the device, and those who buy a new iPhone with a T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid plan can get a $50 iTunes gift card.

T-Mobile’s fine print notes: “Must activate device in-store. Limit 1 device per customer. Offer only valid with activation of  $50 or $70 worth of service. Offer subject to change.” That lines up with our earlier report that Apple stores would offer the prepaid iPhones on -T-Mobile’s’ $50/month (1GB LTE data) and $70/month (5GB LTE data) unlimited data plans. Read more

Verizon unveils 1 year “Device Payment Plan” for yearly updaters, moves full subsidies to 24 months

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

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iPhone 3GS supply tightens ahead of likely discontinuation this fall

Although it seems likely that Apple will soon discontinue its legacy iPhone 3GS, some reports have said that Apple will retain the device as its cost-effective pre-paid option. Others, including us, have reported that Apple is preparing two next-generation iPhones for this fall: one as the successor to the iPhone 4 and one as a cheaper, possibly pre-paid model.

According to several sources in different countries, stock of Apple’s iPhone 3GS is quickly tightening with hardly – or even any – shipments coming through to certain regions. In addition, according to a source at one popular international carrier, the iPhone 3GS has disappeared from the stock database.

We have heard from reliable sources at a major European iPhone carrier that stock of the iPhone 3GS is unusually low, with little stock coming through for the next few weeks. An accurate source at a major U.S. based iPhone reseller also reported to us that stock of the iPhone 3GS is significantly lower than usual. In addition, this source says, similarly to what our European carriers sources reported, that no iPhone 3GS shipments are coming through to several districts in the United States. On top of all of this, an accurate source with a hand in Apple’s global channel shipping operations reports that shipments of the 3GS are rapidly decreasing with a little amount of units remaining in the channel.

Apple gradually tightens its shipments and production of products ahead of its upgrade or discontinuation. This minimizes already-replaced product inventory from the company’s product lineup (which Apple often just moves to “refurbished”). This iPhone 3GS situation is a prime example of this process.

It is also possible that Apple is preparing an upgrade to the iPhone 3GS. Perhaps they will bump the screen or change something internally (A4?). It is also entirely possible that Apple is decreasing iPhone 3GS supplies in anticipation of more people buying the next-generation iPhone.

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