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AT&T kick-starts holiday device promos

AT&T is getting a head start on holiday offers two weeks before Black Friday, as the carrier continues its promo push to attract and retain customers.

Android devices are the focus of the latest deals, which started Friday, November 12. As with earlier promos, they apply to new and existing AT&T customers who are on any unlimited plan.

With a trade-in and device installment plan AT&T is offering a free Samsung Galaxy S21 5G or up to $800 off the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the Google Pixel 6 Pro. The Samsung Galaxy Flip3 5G also is free via monthly bill credits on an installment plan when users trade in an eligible phone, while the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is up to $800 off.

On November 19 additional offers go live on tablets and accessories, as well as for prepaid customers including Cricket Wireless.

Although AT&T is touting new promos, fundamentally there isn’t much change from what the carrier’s been aggressively offering for the last year or so, according to Jeffrey Moore, principal at Wave7 Research.

The two main ones are still at play, the first being an $800 discount on top Galaxy and iPhone devices when customers trade in a device worth at least $95 and sign on for a three-year monthly installment plan with unlimited tier service.

The other is a tiered offer where customers pay anywhere from $1 to $20 per month with a 3-year EIP and unlimited plan.

There are a couple of tweaks, he said, such as the Google Pixel 6 Pro which just debuted last month. Before AT&T offered $700 off with a trade-in device that has at least a $95 value. Now it’s $800 off the Pixel 6 Pro with a trade-in device worth a minimum of only $35.

“You can trade in a device that’s not worth that much and you’ll get a discount that is $100 steeper than it was,” Moore said of the Pixel offer. He thinks this relates in general to heavy advertising for the new Pixel 6, alongside strong support from Google and supply of the device for AT&T to promote it.

In November, the Google Pixel 6 is half off from AT&T without the need for a trade-in.

The other new tweak is for the Galaxy S20 FE. Before on the tiered promotions, a base level 128GB version of the device cost $10 per month, which has now been cut in half meaning customers can get a flagship phone for $5 per month, Moore said. The 256GB Galaxy FE version also shifted, from an earlier $15 per month tier to now $10 per month with an installment plan.

Given the carrier’s success at subscriber metrics, Moore isn’t surprised that AT&T is sticking with the status quo.

“AT&T executives have been very positive about the response to the offers that they launched last October [2020] and their quarterly results have been excellent,” he said.

The recent third quarter marked AT&T’s best for postpaid phone subscriber additions in more than a decade. It scooped up 928,000 postpaid net phone additions, for 1.2 million total postpaid net adds in Q3 – following a handful of quarters that also saw subscriber momentum alongside the new strategy.

With 36-month EIPs attached to top deals, Wave7 noted that AT&T knows that it’s getting an unlimited subscriber for three years which appears to be helping reduce churn. Postpaid phone churn last quarter was 0.72% for AT&T.

The same day AT&T reported earnings, T-Mobile put out a new offer to entice switchers. It promised to pay up to $1,000 to cover any remaining eligible device payments that customers owe their carrier when they leave for T-Mobile.

Wave7 Research’s October postpaid report shows that carriers dropped some deals last month. That includes Verizon shifting away from giving strongest offers to both new and existing customers, and AT&T ditching a $1,000 offer for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Max.

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