A lot of smaller carriers, and even big ones like T-Mobile, have started removing two-year contracts from their product offerings, to give their customers the freedom to not be locked in for 48 months to a single carrier. Now it looks like AT&T will be the next one, as an internal document that has been leaked shows that if customers want to get new phones, there will be no more 2-year contracts, but rather an upfront payment or through installments through their AT&T Next program.
The move is set to start January 8, 2016 and by then all AT&T customers who want to avail of a new device will have to pay for the device in full, even the flip phones and non-smartphones. But as for the wearables like the Samsung Gear S2 or the tablets, it’s not included in the document as to whether or not they will also be removed from the 2-year contracts. Multi-year contracts for the corporate accounts will probably still be around.
As to why they’re doing this, a vaguely worded statement says it is for “aligning… service offerings with customer and industry trends”. Industry trends may refer to the fact that T-Mobile got rid of their multi-year contracts back in 2013. AT&T actually stopped offering two-year contracts through their partner retailers like Best Buy and Apple since June of 2015. You could only get it through AT&T stores and for existing customers, they would have to request for a contract extension.
What AT&T has been pushing for is the AT&T Next payment plan where customers can get new gadgets though an installment plan, whether it’s 24 months or 30 months. So let’s wait for the official announcement from AT&T before making any plans.