Congratulations, Microsoft Tribe
The worst hit-piece ever produced by the Verge is no longer one that targets Microsoft. It targets AT&T.
This article represents a complete failure of understanding the details of the Next program. The author of this piece failed to read and understand the terms and conditions, which are clearly visible on the information page.
*Requires 20-month Installment Agreement and qualifying credit. If you cancel wireless service, remaining balance on device becomes due. 0% APR; no down payment. Sales tax due at sale. Wireless service agreement required (voice and data). Upgrade prior to 20 months: Requires minimum 12 installment payments, account in good standing, plus trade-in of current device in good and functional condition, and purchase of new device/wireless service agreement under then-applicable terms and conditions. After upgrade remaining unbilled installment payments are waived. Terms subject to change.
The premise of the article is that you are OBLIGATED to trade-in your phone, but you can clearly see that you are not. You can pay off your installments at any time, and you should be able to sign a new "Install Agreement" thereafter, whether it's at 12 months or even 1 month. In any case, you own the phone. So the issue really comes down to whether or not you're needlessly paying too much if you don't go on contract with your service plan. How you arrive at being able to sign up for a contract-free plan is irrelevant, whether it be from paying for the entire retail price of the phone upfront or by signing up for an installment plan.
Anyway, my point in posting this here is to ask: if the Managing Editor of the Verge can't even understand a simple program like this, how can we expect the Verge to understand something like the Family Share feature or the DRM requirements for disc-less game play on the Xbox One, even if Microsoft had been clearer?
Seriously, I'm beginning to think this site is run by a bunch of amateurs.