iPhone Upgrade Guide

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This is for those that have questions about the Upgrade Process for the iPhone on AT&T Wireless. Keep in mind, only AT&T can answer your questions definitively. We can only speculate using the information we have gathered in recent days.

1. How do I check my upgrade status?

  • Press *639# (*NEW#) on your phone and press Call. Your will receive a text showing your upgrade status shortly
  • Login to your AT&T account online and click "Check Upgrade Options"
  • Call AT&T Customer Service and ask (AT&T has recently turned many people away and referred them to the website or *639# function)

2. What does this upgrade message mean? After dialing *639# I receive the following message:

"As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2 year commitment and an $36 upgrade fee"

You are currently eligible for an upgrade at the current subsidized prices + an $36 upgrade fee.

16GB iPhone - $199

32GB iPhone - $299

64GB iPhone - $399

"A full discount on a standard handset or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on xx/xx/xxxx. 
 We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $36 upgrade fee"     

This message means you pay the above pricing in addition to a $250 fee and the activation fee.

"A full discount on a standard handset or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on xx/xx/2011. 
 We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $36 upgrade fee"     


"As a valued AT&T customer, we can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price, along with a 2-year commitment and an $36 upgrade fee. 
 Please proceed with the online upgrade process for pricing details. You may qualify for a full discount on a standard iPhone upgrade on xx/xx/xxxx" 

You are currently eligible for "Early Upgrade" pricing ($250 + retail) + an $18 upgrade fee.

16GB iPhone - $449

32GB iPhone - $549

64GB iPhone - $649

  • Alternately, you can wait until the date in the message to receive the full upgrade for the fully subsidized prices listed in the first option.

"You may select equipment at our full retail pricing. An upgrade will be available xx/xx/xxxx"

You are not eligible for any upgrade pricing. You can purchase an iPhone at the full unsubsidized pricing.

16GB iPhone - $649

32GB iPhone - $749

64GB iPhone - $849

  • Alternately, you can wait until the date in the message to receive the full upgrade for the fully subsidized prices listed in the first option.

3. UPGRADE SWAP - Can I use someone else's upgrade? Yes, this is called an "upgrade swap". If you perform this in a carrier, they will handle it all for you. Apple is able to do this also in store, provided that you tell them beforehand.

If you prefer to order online, place your order for the phone using the line(s) that has an available upgrade. If this line currently has no data plan, you may need to add a data plan (just choose the cheapest as you will be removing it later.) Once the phone(s) arrive contact the carrier to let them know that you will be activating the phone(s) on another line (performing an "upgrade swap"). (If you had to add a data plan, have them remove it at this time as well.) Once the carrier has reassociated the SIM with the correct line, complete the activation on the phone. DONE!

This process does not affect your unlimited data plan.

4. What happens to the contract when performing an Upgrade Swap? The contract on the line that had the available upgrade will be renewed for 2 years. The line that the phone was transferred to will not be affected.

5. What is the pricing structure? The iPhone 5 is rumored to have the same pricing structure as the 4S now.

6. Do I need to bring in my old phone or my sim card to the store? No, the new iPhone will come with a sim card pre-installed. You just need yourself, ID, and payment (preferably a credit/debit card). You can pay in an Apple store with cash. What they do is they you buy an Apple gift card with cash of the exact amount of the purchase and then they swipe the gift card.

7. What about this new microsim that is in the new iPhone? The new phone will be delivered to you with a new (blank) micro-sim. It is basically the same sim you have right now, just smaller. Once activated, the new microsim will have your phone number assigned to it.

8. Does my name need to be on the contract if I plan on going without the account holder to upgrade? No, you just need the account holder to add you as an authorized user. You also have to be over 18 because you will have to sign the new contract from the upgrade since it is legally-binding. In the past, some Apple stores have not allowed Authorized Contacts to perform the upgrade. But in other cases, they were able to perform the upgrade by providing the last 4 digits of the SSN of the primary account holder. But, it seems like it is different from store to store. However, if you go to a Carrier Corporate Store, you'll be fine as the authorized user.

9. How about corporate discounts? It would be best to head into a Carrier Corporate Store to do this. They have the resources and information to correctly process your discounts. Apple stores do not have the resources to do this. Many users have experienced the problem of having their discounts removed last year, myself included. While it is possible to have the discount re-added after upgrading at Apple, it would be much more convenient to not go through this and just head to a carrier store.

10. When should I cancel my FAN discount to ensure a smooth process at Apple stores? You do not have to cancel the FAN discount since Apple is fine with them now.

11. What is the iPhone process at a carrier store versus Apple Stores? There is relatively little difference between both buying experiences. However, for preorders, carriers guarantee your phone with your name reserved for it. Apple, on the other hand, just guarantees you a phone for that day only, the day after, the iPhone is up for grabs again. The only difference that is clear is that Apple generally has much much more stock of iPhones than a carrier store.

It is known that in the past, a carrier has offered freebies like accessories and even the waiver of activation fees compared to nothing, but maybe T-Shirts or free coffee/food at Apple lines.

12.What is a FAN? Foundation Account Number. Think of it like a group discount for organizations that subscribe to the service.

I have an Individual Responsible FAN (IRU) - meaning I pay for my own line, but I get a X% discount on the service. There are also Corporate Responsible FANs (CRU), where the company pays for the phones.

13. When I upgrade, does it add 2 years to my contract or reset? When you upgrade, your account will reset to two years from that date, not add another two years in addition to what you are left with currently.

14. When can I purchase iPhone 5? (Answer will be filled on September 12)

15. How many devices can I preorder? AT&T and Apple stores will sell one iPhone 4 per person for new customers, and one device per household for new orders placed online. Existing customers may purchase one per eligible telephone number online or through our stores.

16. How do I activate my device? Customers who order their device through their carrier or Apple and have it shipped directly to their home should follow the instructions included with the shipment. If you’re picking up your device in an AT&T or Apple store, we’ll help you activate it before you leave.

18. Will my credit/debit card be charged if I preorder? At the point your order is placed, we will authorize the funds to cover your purchase. However, your credit card will not be charged until the order is shipped.

19. When and where can I pickup my preordered device? As always, a pick up date depends on when you preorder and on our available inventory. That said, this year we’re encouraging customers to have devices shipped directly to their home or business – the fastest and most convenient delivery option. Customers can also opt to pick up their preorder at a carrier or Apple store. Customers performing an exchange for iPhone 4 must have their device shipped to a carrier's store.

20. Why am I not eligible for an upgrade but others are? This is dependent on many factors through the carrier. Nobody knows how they determine dates, but some factors do play in, such as how much an individual line pays or if they have a FAN discount. However, a general rule of thumb is early upgrades are available 6 months after a contract sign and 18 months for a full upgrade. However, remember that this is not set in stone and carriers may decide to change the policy in the future.