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All Cell Phone Users May Soon Be Contract Free

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Cell phone contracts may soon be a thing of the past.

AT&T is the new wireless phone service provider getting rid of contracts to get new phones.

Before then, getting a new iPhone was a simple two-step process: Hand your wireless carrier $200, and sign a two-year contract.

But that's no longer an option through AT&T.

Apple now sells iPhones at AT&T exclusively through the AT&T Next carrier financing program.

AT&T Next allows a customer to purchase a new iPhone for $0 down, or zilch as the commercial states, and make equal payments for 12, 18 or 24 months until the full price of the smartphone has been paid.

But this means you can't go to the Apple Store anymore and make a one-time payment to buy a cheaper phone.

FIU marketing professor, Greg Maloney says it's because more customers are gravitating toward companies like Metro PCS that have no contracts to begin with.

"AT&T and Verizon are probably losing a little bit of market share to that so this is their attempt to kind of try to recapture their market share," said Maloney.

AT&T isn't alone in pushing contract-free plans.

Verizon is planning on dropping two-year contracts for iPhones purchased at the Apple Store, too.

But it was T-Mobile that actually started the trend. They haven't offered two-year contracts since 2013—so now AT&T is following suit.

"Consumers have obviously shown a preference for these month-to-month kind of contracts and because of that AT&T and Verizon are reacting and they want to give the consumer what they are asking for," Maloney said.

So is contract free the way to be? As a general rule, two-year contracts tend to be the less expensive route if you're not a data hog. The more data you use, the more going contract-free makes sense.

For those who don't like change or don't care that they're under contract, you still have the old option…for now, at least.

Two-year contracts will still be available at AT&T stores, online or brick and mortar stores.

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