Earlier this week, Verizon started charging its customers a $20 upgrade fee whenever they purchased a new phone at full price or on the carrier's payment installation plans. As is often the case with carriers and their fees, it didn't take long for AT&T to match Verizon. The carrier bumped its own $15 fee to $20 in response this week, as noted by Droid Life. The AT&T upgrade fee applies to any phone brought to the carrier (as in, unlocked devices not sold directly by AT&T) or any device purchased on AT&T's payment plan. Business customers that opt to sign two-year agreements are subject to a $45 fee.
While both Verizon and AT&T's fees are excessive and borderline extortion, it appears that if you opt to pay full price up front for your phone, AT&T will not charge a fee. Of course, that often means laying out upwards of $600 for the latest devices and is far less attractive than spreading that cost out over a year or two with a payment plan. Of the four major carriers in the US, T-Mobile is the only one to not charge any fees when upgrading to a new phone on a payment plan.