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AT&T says no-contract iPhones coming next week

By Nancy Gohring
March 19, 2009 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - As promised, AT&T will begin selling iPhones without requiring a two-year contract, but the devices will be so expensive that few people are likely to want to buy them.

Starting March 26, existing AT&T customers will be able to buy the 8GB iPhone for US$599 and the 16GB iPhone for $699, AT&T said. The news follows days of rumors that the commitment-free phones might hit store shelves soon.

The price works out to be more expensive than buying a subsidized iPhone with a two-year contract, paying the subscription for a month, canceling the plan and paying the early termination fee. Including the activation fee, that would come to $476 for the 8GB iPhone.

"This is simply another way AT&T customers can experience iPhone 3G on the nation's fastest 3G network," AT&T said in a statement.

Existing AT&T customers -- the only people who can buy the contract-less phones -- are eligible to buy an iPhone at a subsidized price based on the amount of time left on their contract and their payment history. In many cases, they will be better off waiting until they become eligible for a subsidized iPhone with a two-year contract.

People who buy the phone without a contract will have the same service plan options as contract iPhone users, except they won't have to commit to using the service for two years. The cheapest option is $70 a month, including voice and data access.

IPhones without contracts have been available in some European countries. AT&T has long said that it would sell iPhones without contracts but until now had not said when.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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