Carriers to offer iPhone without an initial down payment

09/14/2013 12:29 AM

09/14/2013 12:29 AM

T-Mobile US Inc., AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, touting their new installment-plan approach to mobile-phone pricing, will offer Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5C without an initial down payment.

T-Mobile will subsequently require 24 months of $22 payments. AT&T’s $22 installment plan will last only 20 months, buts its monthly service prices start at a higher rate. And Verizon is offering the 5C without a down payment and $22.91 per month over 24 months.

The new iPhones, due in stores this month, are putting a spotlight on the industry’s shift toward more flexible installment purchases. T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, was first to adopt the approach this year, seeking to stand out from its larger rivals. Verizon Wireless and AT&T then followed with similar plans, though they still offer the traditional method of subsidizing phones in exchange for a two-year contract.

The higher-end iPhone 5S will sell for $99 down and $22.91 a month at T-Mobile, while AT&T will offer it for zero down and 20 monthly payments of $27. Verizon hasn’t determined an installment plan price for the 5S yet. Verizon and AT&T will offer the iPhone 5S starting at $199 with a two-year contract.

While the total cost of buying the iPhone through AT&T, for example, is lower, T-Mobile aims to attract customers with its service plans. The company charges $70 a month for unlimited calling, text and data. AT&T, which no longer offers unlimited data, has a starting price of $80 a month, with caps on calling minutes and data.

Overland Park-based Sprint Corp., the third-largest U.S. carrier, will offer both handsets from Sept. 20 on a two-year service agreement. Sprint will begin selling the phones at 8 a.m. that day.

The cheapest model 5C will sell for $99.99. The 5S will start at $199.99, the company said Friday.

Sprint customers were able to pre-order the Apple phones on Friday.

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