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Customers on Verizon Edge will now have to pay in full before they can upgrade to a new device

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Verizon’s Edge program lets customers switch to a new smartphone once they’ve paid off a certain amount of the original device’s price. That’s the gist of the early upgrade program Verizon introduced two years ago in response to T-Mobile’s Jump and AT&T’s Next, but Edge has since undergone a number of changes that make it a little less appealing than it was upon its debut.

Verizon announced the latest adjustment of terms: Starting May 31, subscribers on Edge will have to pay off the entire cost of their current device before they’re eligible for an early upgrade. That’s far different from two years ago, when customers only had to pay 50 percent of the their device before they could land a shiny new one. However, the writing’s been on the wall for a while: Verizon increased the amount customers needed to pay to 60 percent in June 2014, then 75 percent in October.

There’s arguably a plus side, though. You’ll be able to upgrade immediately after you’ve paid your off your handset completely. The previous system had a 30-day waiting period. However, if you consider the cost of a flagship smartphone like the Galaxy S6 ($599), you’re paying quite a premium — somewhere around $149.75 (25 percent of $600) — for that slight reduction in lag time.

Whether the new terms appeal or not, Verizon seems to be stepping up efforts to funnel customers toward Edge. It offers discounts on its More Everything plans for those who sign up. You’ll pay $25 less on lines for plans with 6GB or higher or $15 less on plans with 4GB and lower. Additionally, last November introduced harsher early termination fees for non-Edge subscribers.

Those measures seem to be having the desired effect — SVP of Marketing at Verizon Nancy Clark said in a press release that more than 50 percent of Verizon Wireless customers have upgraded or activated smartphones with Edge. That’s roughly 50 million paying subscribers — certainly nothing to shake a stick at.

In our comparison of early upgrade plans, we were left largely unimpressed — no matter how you slice it, they all require you pay a premium to get new smartphones early. If you’re intractably attracted to bleeding-edge tech, but don’t have the money to buy unlocked, though, T-Mobile’s Jump is still the best value. A device down payment plus monthly installments nets you the ability to upgrade every six months (for an additional $60) and complimentary phone insurance. Edge and Next, by comparison, require you stick to a rigid 20-24 month payment structure and confer no additional benefits beyond some monthly savings.

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