As I watch folks pick up their new Nokia Lumia 1020’s today now that they have hit AT&T retail shelves I am experiencing a pang of wishing I was upgrading today as well.

However, I did my contractual upgrade when I picked up my Nokia Lumia 920 earlier this year so my normal upgrade options, with AT&T’s new 24 month upgrade cycle instead of 18 months, is well down the road.

Despite knowing that it did not stop me from going online to my AT&T account and clicking that check upgrade eligibility button to just check what it says.

I mean you never know  what might pop up when new phones hit like the Nokia Lumia 1020, etc.

So I clicked on that link and this is what I saw:


Of course the ever present early upgrade if you buy an iPhone is there but it was the text highlighted in blue that caught my eye:

This line is eligible for an early upgrade with a partial discount off the full price when you sign up for a 2-year service agreement. A $36 upgrade fee will apply. Early iPhone upgrade pricing is available online today while all other devices are available for early upgrade pricing in AT&T retail stores or via 611. You may qualify for a full discount on an iPhone upgrade on 12/01/2014. This line is ineligible for an AT&T Next installment plan upgrade.

I had never seen the wording like that about being eligible for an early upgrade with a partial discount off the full price.  With the Nokia Lumia 1020 selling for $659 off contract and $299.99 with a two year obligation a discount might be an option to get the handset into my hands well ahead of my normal upgrade window.

So I called 611 first and used the automated menus to find out I was not eligible for an early upgrade until December 2014. Exactly what I expected to hear.

Next I decided to talk to an operator and after going through the normal account validation process I told them about the different wording on that upgrade page and the customer service rep told me that I was eligible for this early upgrade option.

The basic way they said it worked is that there is a $250 fee for the early upgrade that you would pay plus the price of the phone at the discounted level you would pay with a two year contract.

So, for example, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is selling under contract for $299.99. If you add that to the $250 fee for the early upgrade that would put the total early upgrade price at about $550 plus the $36 upgrade fee. It is not going to save you a ton of money on the Nokia Lumia 1020 but it would be less than buying it outright.

Apparently other handsets are eligible as well according to the scenarios the customer service rep shared with me.

That means you could upgrade for less than the cost of the phone off contract as long as your OK with renewing your two year commitment with AT&T.

Do you think this might be worth it under the right circumstances?

I recommend you log into your AT&T account and check your upgrade eligibility and see if similar text appears on the screen. If it does call a customer service rep and ask about this option.

Please let us know how your experience goes doing this in the comments below.