AT&T hikes smartphone early upgrade fee by $50

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) increased its smartphone early upgrade fee by $50, making it the second such increase in the past year as the carrier tries to transition more of its base to smartphones.

AT&T confirmed the change to the blog, and noted that the increased fees only apply to customers who want a smartphone but who are not yet eligible for discounted, two-year contract prices. AT&T also confirmed that customers who want a smartphone early on a one-year contract will have their fees increased by $150, although that increase does not apply to iPhones. An AT&T spokeswoman also confirmed that basic phone early upgrade fees increased by $10.

The changes apply to all of AT&T's smartphones.

"We've updated our early upgrade and no commitment price points for smartphones and feature phones," an AT&T spokeswoman said in a statement. "Only customers who are not yet upgrade eligible or who do not want to sign a contract are impacted. As mobile devices become more sophisticated, their cost goes up. This change reflects the increased costs, while still allowing us to offer customers the latest device before they qualify. We're happy to discuss individual account and upgrade needs one-on-one with customers."

AT&T in October increased the early upgrade fee on its smartphones from $75 to $200 to counter what it said was the growing complexity (and cost) of the devices. That change, however, did not apply to Apple's iPhone products--a notable exception in light of Verizon's launch of the iPhone earlier this year. 

Since Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched the iPhone 4 earlier this year, breaking AT&T's exclusive grip on the device, AT&T has announced or launched a bevy of new smartphones, including numerous Android phones. The company plans to make a big push into Android, with 12 smartphone launches planned this year. 

For more:
- see this BGR post
- see this Android Central post

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Article updated April 5 with more information from AT&T.