What qualifies one for an "iPod customer" upgrade price with AT&T Wireless?
July 18, 2008 2:37 PM   Subscribe

For AT&T, what counts as being a 'previous iPhone user' as far as upgrades to 3G iPhone go? I am a fairly new AT&T customer, who got a Blackberry through them in May. Because of that, I'm not eligible for a $199/$299 3G iPhone through them -- I'd have to pay $399 or $499. However, they are giving current iPhone customers the lower price. If I were to acquire an old iPhone from a 3rd party, and activate it under my current AT&T account, would that make me an iPhone customer for purposes of the upgrade? Or did I have to buy an iPhone directly through AT&T to qualify for this price?
posted by mef613 to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh, bother. I meant, of course, "iPhone customer" and not "iPod customer." Sorry.
posted by mef613 at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2008

I had an odd experience with the supposed upgrade criteria yesterday, upon attempting to purchase the 3G iPhone. I bought my original iPhone in October of last year ($399) and checked my account for discount/upgrade eligibility a week ago. At that time, it said I was indeed eligible. Walked into the Apple Store yesterday, they said my account showed ineligible and they couldn't say why. So, the Apple employee spoke to his manager, came back with an Apple gift card for $200 and slid it through, effectively discounting the price. Not sure if Apple goes back to AT&T to recoup that at some point, it was rather odd.

Just letting you know this as I don't think that between Apple or AT&T, the poor souls interfacing with customers haven't been educated on what's left nor right and they're doing everything they can to appease people through the insane rush and long lines.
posted by Asherah at 2:50 PM on July 18, 2008

You have the right idea. You simply need to activate the old iPhone via iTunes and your account will automatically be upgraded to the $20 data plan. Even though Apple and ATT are no longer selling the old iPhone, it is still possible to buy the old iPhone and use it with the old data plan.

Once you activate it, you will now be a "previous iPhone user".

However, do you know anyone who has an iPhone and will be willing to let you tinker with it for a few minutes? If so, all you have to do is switch the SIM card and restore the iPhone. Activate the iPhone under your account, and confirm on the ATT wireless website that you are now an iPhone user. Then simply swap the SIM cards again and restore the iPhone from a previously made back-up. If you're willing to do it this way, then you won't have to purchase an old iPhone.

Now you can go to the Apple store and upgrade to the iPhone 3G.

Good luck!
posted by mahoganyslide at 2:51 PM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

One problem. You can't switch the SIM card. The iPhone only takes iPhone SIM cards.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:29 PM on July 18, 2008

Not necessarily. The iPhone will in fact take any ATT SIM card, including one with the 3G logo on it. I myself have activated a friend's iPhone using the above method using his old 3G SIM card.
posted by mahoganyslide at 4:14 PM on July 18, 2008

Here's your problem: You just bought a subsidized blackberry on new contract and ATT knows this. They want to recoup the subsidy before they sell you another subsidized phone.

On one of the boards like engadget, gizmodo or macrumors there was a similar question posed and an ATT employee chimed in and said that when they determine iPhone eligibility they look at how long you've had the iPhone account anyone that activated the phone after ATT and Apple ran out were not considered eligible for the upgrade.

I stood in line last week with a woman who drowned her iPhone and was using her friend's old blackberry with her iPhone's SIM in it until the 3G came out. After a day using the phone to make calls (she wasn't interested in the data part) she got a call from ATT asking if she wanted to switch to the blackberry data plan to use it. She said no since she wanted to get a new iPhone at the discounted rate. She called 611 while in line after the Apple person working the line said he wasn't sure if she would still qualify. Because was still paying for the iPhone data she was assured she qualified. In other words ATT will know what you're trying to do and will probably shut you down. Then again, you might get lucky with an Apple Store manager and a 200 gift card.
posted by birdherder at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2008

"You just bought a subsidized blackberry on new contract and ATT knows this. They want to recoup the subsidy before they sell you another subsidized phone."

Exactly- it's not a logic puzzle, it's money. Every two years, you are eligible for a subsidized phone. You already got yours.
posted by gjc at 11:25 PM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Apple stated that you had to be a iPhone account holder on July 11 to qualify, so you are out of luck I'm afraid.
posted by w0mbat at 12:30 AM on July 19, 2008

Indeed. You will not qualify for the promotional pricing as you have already received one subsidized phone from AT&T within the current year and also, did not have an iPhone on your account prior to July 11th.

Please stop trying to defraud AT&T. Thanks!
posted by cgomez at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2008

So the consensus appears to be that I'm stuck. Sigh. Thought so. cgomez and others -- I was actually just trying to ascertain what the rules are, not figure out a way to get around them. I did some calling around, and different Apple stores and different AT&T stores each had a different story.

Hell, I'd actually prefer a 1st-gen iPhone -- $10 less per month for the data plan, and I don't live in a 3G market anyhow. If AT&T or Apple were still selling them, I'd jump at one -- but they aren't, and the used 1st-gen market price has been driven sky-high by the gray-market unlockers.

For those who are interested, I had been planning to switch to AT&T once the new iPhone came out. However, my wife's phone died in May, and rather than signing up for another 2 years with Verizon, we switched early. I thought that there was a reasonable chance that the new iPhone would ship before June 11, which would have permitted me to return the Blackberry within the 30-day returns window and purchase an iPhone instead. Instead, they announced it then and shipped it a month later, which left me pretty much stuck.

Maybe my best course at this point is to try to sell the Blackberry and use the proceeds to defray the unsubsidized iPhone. Or just wait awhile, which would probably be to my bank account's benefit anyway.

Thanks, all.
posted by mef613 at 9:57 PM on July 19, 2008

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