Under AT&T Inc.'s Next and Verizon Wireless' Edge upgrade programs, customers pay the full retail prices for phones over 20 or 24 months, instead of the traditional way of paying just $200 up front. Unlike T-Mobile, however, neither has reduced the service fee component of phone bills, meaning customers effectively pay for the same phone twice. There's no additional monthly fee, but there's no insurance, either.
Even though Next and Edge require customers to pay more overall for phones, both waive the down payment and make T-Mobile look bad in charging it. Sievert said T-Mobile's zero-down promotion is a direct response to that perception.
The promotion applies to phones bought through T-Mobile's website, over the phone or at its retail stores. It doesn't apply to phones bought through resellers and other retailers, such as Sony's store for the Xperia Z.