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T-Mobile's new early upgrade plan lets you swap phones even more

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These days, T-Mobile's not just trying to trip up its bigger rivals -- it's sprucing up some of its own features, too. The carrier just announced an improved way to handle early upgrades, and it could work out great if you're like us and can't stand holding onto the same phone for too long. The company's new JUMP On Demand program works almost exactly like the original JUMP plan does, save for three big changes: First, you can trade in your phone for a new one three times a year instead of two. There doesn't seem to be a limit on when you can upgrade, either (the other version of JUMP makes you wait six months before your first swap). Oh, and the $10 monthly fee T-Mobile used to charge you for the privilege? Kaput. Don't get too worked up, though: You'll just have to wait for June 28 to roll around before you can ditch your current device.

The downsides here are few -- you'll lose out on the free phone insurance that was once baked into the compulsory $10 fee, though you can add it yourself for a few bucks less and still pay less than you did before. JUMP On Demand only works for certain smartphones, too, so your choices will be limited compared to the original plan (which still exists, to be clear). The biggest one, of course, is that you're basically just renting a phone from T-Mobile for however many months before you upgrade again. Sure, you'll be able to keep the phone if you complete the terms of your contract and pay it off in full, but it's pretty clear T-Mobile would rather you give your gently used device right back to them (they'll use 'em as replacements and refurb units).

Then again, if services like Spotify are any indication, the whole notion of people "owning things" might be sort of passé anyway. The way T-Mobile sees it, it doesn't really matter if someone "owns" a phone as long as they currently have one they like and can ditch it for something better when they stop liking it. That's a very powerful pull on a consumer's mind -- improvement is just a trip to the store away -- and it doesn't seem likely that T-Mobile will ditch its customer-focused mantra any time soon. Too bad then that the carrier's rambunctious swagger doesn't seem to be winning it friends where it might need them the most.

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