Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

Tutor

Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

I want to take advantage of the Radio Shack trade-in sale this week.  I have a 3GS and plant to get an iPhone 4.  Is ATT going to hassle me?  Extend my contract?  

 

And what will I have to do?

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Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

Why would they hassle you?  People buy iphones from Apple, Best Buy and Radio Shack.  It all works the same way as buying the phone from AT&T, no better or worse.  If you get the iPhone 4 for a discounted price, you will lock into a new 2 year contract.

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Tutor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

Certainly hoping for no hassle, but forums (this one and on Apple sites) are full of unhappy stories.  And I've never done this.

 

But basically, here's what I want to be sure of.  

 

1. There are no extra charges from ATT for changing phones, which I think you implied there wouldn't be.  However, one Radio Shack employee told me he thought that if I'd owned my 3GS for less than either 6 months or a year, ATT would charge me $75.

 

2.  Whether the clock on the contract resets to 24 months.  And this one you answered, thanks.

 

3.  And I neglected to ask this part directly:  Will I have to physically go to an ATT store to activate the change?  In other words, how does my new iPhone know it's on my account and know what its number is?

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Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

[ Edited ]

In order for us to answer #1 and #2 accurately, you have to tell us your current contract status.  Are you eligible for a full or early upgrade?  For #3, I am unsure of how in-store activations work.  I activated my new phone using iTunes on a co-worker's computer.  But, I purchased mine online.  Other posters on this forum can recommend if you want to restore from your previous iPhone or activate as new.

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Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

For question #1, I believe AT&T charges a standard $18 (or $36?) activation fee for new phones.  Some people have said they had it waived, but I don't know how they got that to occur.  That would be something between you and AT&T.  I don't know if RS would be authorived to waive the activation fee for AT&T.  How far you are into your contract affects the price you pay for the new phone.  If you are eligible for a full upgrade, you pay the lowest price for the phone ($199/$299).  If you aren't eligible for an upgrade, the price you pay for the phone is $200 higher.  The extra $200 is what you pay for getting out of your 3GS contract early.

 

For question #3, you don't have to go to AT&T.  If they don't activate it at the RS store, you can activate it at home using iTunes.  It will ask if you are a current AT&T customer, and you'll put in your phone number.  The iphone will be activated with your number and the SIM in your old phone will be automatically deactivated.

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Master

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

The one question you haven't answered is whether you are eligible for an upgrade.  You won't get the super-cheap price if you last upgraded your phone 2 months ago in an AT&T store.  You can verify when you are eligible for an upgrade by checking your OLAM or dialing *639# from your handset.

 

 


bigpics wrote:

Certainly hoping for no hassle, but forums (this one and on Apple sites) are full of unhappy stories.  And I've never done this.

 

But basically, here's what I want to be sure of.  

 

1. There are no extra charges from ATT for changing phones, which I think you implied there wouldn't be.  However, one Radio Shack employee told me he thought that if I'd owned my 3GS for less than either 6 months or a year, ATT would charge me $75.

 

2.  Whether the clock on the contract resets to 24 months.  And this one you answered, thanks.

 

3.  And I neglected to ask this part directly:  Will I have to physically go to an ATT store to activate the change?  In other words, how does my new iPhone know it's on my account and know what its number is?


 

 

 

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Tutor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

I got my 3GS on Mar. 18, 2010, FROM ATT along with a feature phone for my son on a family plan.  He has unlimited TXTing and no data plan and I have a standard (whatever the least expensive is) iPhone data plan with whatever texting that includes.

 

I also have a 20% teacher's discount on the plan.  

 

Don't know what an OLAM is, and my gal has the phone right now out of town so waiting to hear what dialing *639# will yield.

 

So that's just shy of nine months (and the Radio Shack deal expires before the 18th - on the 11th to be precise).  The ATT FAQ says I should be eligible for "upgrade pricing" after 12 or 18 months, but I'm still confused as I don't plan to buy the phone from them, and no searches on the site even mention what happens when you buy the phone somewhere else.  (Gee, I wonder why that is?!)

 

Not sure how it impacts them on the current contract, tho', if I keep my account and buy a new instrument elsewhere (Radio Shack) and trade mine in - they still get all the revenue from the original sale, tho' I'll live with a small $18 or $36 "activation fee" mentioned in this thread if I have to - which has to be mostly more pure profit. What can flipping a few bits on a server cost?  

 

Anyway, appreciate all the input to date, but am still confused.  These things may be "information/communication appliances, but it sure feels more complicated than buying a toaster!

 

PS:  for anyone interested, I found out the $25 Radio Shack trade-in also costs more than $25 - you're charged Sales Tax on the full $700 "unsubsidized" price of the phone: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/12/radioshack-offering-50-off-iphone-4-125-off-with-...

 

Every time you turn around, somebody has their hand in your pocket!  

 

Finally, the activation from iTunes sounds simple enough.  Thanks!

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Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

If you are in one of the states that charges sales tax on the full price of the phone (I think that CA is one of them), then that is a hit that you will take.

 

However, back to your main questions, it sounds like you are not upgrade eligible at all.  You would have to pay the full price ($599 16GB and $699 32GB) for the iPhone now. 

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Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

 


bigpics wrote:

I got my 3GS on Mar. 18, 2010


That means you are not eligible, for full subsidized upgrade pricing.  You might be eligible for early upgrade pricing which is $399 for the 16GB i4 and $499 for the 32GB i4.

 

 


bigpics wrote:

Don't know what an OLAM is, and my gal has the phone right now out of town so waiting to hear what dialing *639# will yield.


 

OLAM = On Line Account Management.  This is where you can manage your account and pay your bill online.

 

 


bigpics wrote:
The ATT FAQ says I should be eligible for "upgrade pricing" after 12 or 18 months, but I'm still confused as I don't plan to buy the phone from them, and no searches on the site even mention what happens when you buy the phone somewhere else.  (Gee, I wonder why that is?!)

Actually, if you read closely it says you may be eligible, depending on several factors, it does not guarantee that you will be eligible after only 12 months.

 

Why are you so confused about this whole buying from RadioShack as opposed to AT&T?  RadioShack is an authorized reseller of iPhones by Apple and an authorized agent of AT&T.  It does not matter where you buy the service from, it is still an AT&T contract and the authorized agent of AT&T must abide by the AT&T contract.

It does not matter if you buy the device and sign a new contract at Best Buy, RadioShack, Apple store, WalMart, or AT&T, you are signing an AT&T contract. 

The same rules apply at each and every AT&T authorized agent.  The only difference here is that RS is throwing in a special deal to reduce the price of the phone even further.  AT&T is still subsidizing the cost of the phone to get it down to the $399/$499 (early upgrade) or $199/$299 (fully subsidized) price.  As such, you must sign a 2yr contract.  If you have not completed your original 2yr contract, then AT&T has not fully recouped the original subsidization and they will not allow you to upgrade unless you have met specific circumstances.  Dialing *639# from your device or checking the OLAM will tell you if you are able to upgrade before the end of your contract.

 

 


bigpics wrote:

Anyway, appreciate all the input to date, but am still confused.  These things may be "information/communication appliances, but it sure feels more complicated than buying a toaster!


Well, yes... it's all because of the contract and that is not exclusive to an iPhone or a smart phone.  Although, I think you're making this much more difficult than it really is.

 

 

Message 9 of 12 (8,764 Views)
Professor

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

It doesn't matter whether you buy the phone from RS.  They are an "authorized retailer".  When you buy an iPhone from Apple, RS, or Best Buy, they all link into AT&T's account system to determine whether you are eligible for upgrade pricing.  Since you are only 9 months into your 3GS contract, I believe you would get the $399/$499 "early upgrade" pricing.  You won't get the $199/$299 price as you aren't eligible for a normal upgrade.  The $599/$699 price is only if you don't want a 2-year contract.  AT&T really doesn't care where you buy the phone.  They just want your money for the service every month.

 

OLAM = on-line account management (i.e. checking yor account info on AT&T's web site).

 

The plan you got the the 3GS was the $30 unlimited data plan with no texting included.  When you get the iPhone 4, you have the option of keeping the $30 unlimited data plan, or go to the $15 200MB or $25 2GB plan.  Neither include any texting, just like your current plan.  However, if you do go to one of the cheaper data limited plans, you can never go back to the unlimited data plan.

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Scholar

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

From what I understand, Apple, Best Buy, Radio-shack, they still have to check your eligibility upgrade using the AT&T's network to check if you can purchase at a subsidized price. However if you are buying the phone at a full 599/699 price, there is no need to check the eligibility upgrade, this same goes for AT&T as well.

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Accepted by topic author bigpics
‎09-30-2015 1:39 AM

Re: Buying an iPhone 4, but not from ATT. How does this work?

 


bigpics wrote:

3.  And I neglected to ask this part directly:  Will I have to physically go to an ATT store to activate the change?  In other words, how does my new iPhone know it's on my account and know what its number is?


 

In other words, no, if you buy an iphone from Best Buy, radioshack or Apple, they activate it for you at the store. This is the same for AT&T. However, if you order your iphone from the AT&T online store, then you can activate it at home.

 

As I said, Best buy, Apple, Radiocheck all contacts AT&T through the internet to activate the service.

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