In addition to the dour news that Verizon will be strictly enforcing a 24-month upgrade cycle, the company is extending a small olive branch. Customers who want to get a new phone before their contract is up (or, presumably, anytime) will be able to do so without paying the full device cost up front. Instead, Verizon will let consumers sign up for a "Device Payment Plan" that will break up the full retail price into monthly payments over the course of a year. A Verizon spokesperson tells The Verge that smartphones and tablets costing more than $349.99 will be eligible, but there's also a $24 "finance charge, billed at $2 each month."
The plan was originally leaked by Droid-Life earlier today, and it's mainly an extension of a program Verizon already offered for tablets. As Engadget notes, the plan is completely separate from the device subsidy costs built-into Verizon's standard contract costs. That makes Verizon's device payment plan a different beast entirely from T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" plans, which separate device subsidies from plan costs. Still, it could make upgrading early a little easier (if a little more expensive in the long run) for those who don't want to pay full retail price at the register.