If you want to activate a new cellular line of service on a two-year contract, you’re now officially out of options in the United States. We knew the day was coming when Sprint would stop offering two-year contracts for smartphones, but not when. According to an internal document acquired by AndroidCentral, that day is today, Jan. 8. A separate report, also from AndroidCentral, confirms that AT&T has stopped offering two-year contracts to new customers effective Jan. 8.
New Sprint customers can choose to purchase their smartphones outright, or use programs such as Easy Pay and iPhone Forever to make monthly payments for their handsets. Tablets can still be purchased on two-year contracts.
T-Mobile began the trend of eliminating two-year contracts in 2013, with its Un-carrier payment plans. In August 2015, Verizon followed suit. AT&T made an announcement that it would drop two-year contracts in December 2015, finally confirming the change today. In August 2015, Sprint announced it would move away from two-year contracts, but made no indication of when that would happen.
If you’re an existing customer with Sprint, two-year contracts can be offered “on a reactive basis,” as is the case with Verizon. AT&T, on the other hand, has stopped offering the two-year contracts altogether, whether you’re an existing customer or not.
It’s not surprising that two-year contracts have faded into history. An increasing number of consumers want the freedom to upgrade their smartphones on an annual basis, particularly as new features are added. Customers have also long disliked being locked into two-year contracts, so moving away from that business model isn’t a surprise.