If you thought that the newly-increased $200 early upgrade fee for existing AT&T customers looking to re-up their handsets was painful enough, turns out the company seems to have swept another price increase under the rug at the same time. In the latest in-store displays valid for the period ending November 6, a bunch of smartphones are showing no-commitment (that is, no-contract) pricing anywhere from $100 to $150 higher than they were previously. Why? To make sure that the early upgrade price is still less than (or equal to) the no-commitment price, since it wouldn't make any sense to charge a current subscriber more for hardware without a contract than it would a new one. Here are some examples: Some pricing remains unchanged -- the Samsung Captivate, for instance, which is still $499.99 -- but that's simply because the new line price plus the early upgrade fee are still well less than that rather hefty sum. At any rate, it's a bummer that AT&T is penalizing people who just want to buy a phone without signing up for a contract here... and it's pretty hilarious to see ancient hardware like the Backflip go up by a hundred bucks this late in the game.

[Thanks, anonymous tipster]

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