Welcome, atc07, and thanks for posting! Hopefully we can help clear up some of the confusion here.
Firstly, I totally appreciate searching for sources online, but TMONews isn't an official T-Mobile site. Although there are some well-qualified JUMP! On Demand customers who are still receiving $0 down, many well-qualified customers on JOD are paying the same down payment as well-qualified customers on EIP with JUMP!
The benefit of JUMP! is that once you reach a certain point (either in time, or in your EIP balance), you can turn in your existing device and upgrade to a new one, and there is no trade-in value lost on that original phone. If the phone cost $900 originally, and you still owe $450, but the trade-in value is only $300, you don't have to take a $150 loss. JUMP! 1 set the timeline for upgrading based on two JUMP!s per rolling calendar year, but the newer (and current) JUMP! 2 bases that eligibility on the point that you reach a 50% device balance threshold.
JUMP! On Demand is different in that you can do those upgrades even more frequently, but there are still some differences -- JOD is an 18 month lease instead of a 24 month financing agreement, and whereas with EIP and JUMP! you pay full taxes up front, with JOD you pay up front taxes on the down payment, then monthly taxes on the lease installments, and then taxes on the purchase option price if you decide to buy out the device at the end of the 18 month lease term.
The switch from $0 down for all well-qualified customers, regardless of financing type, to the current dollar amounts, is honestly just based on the increased cost of flagship devices like these. A down payment won't be required for all phones going forward, but those at certain price points will likely have them. I know it's been a zany change for many of our customers, and we can definitely forward any feedback that you have. We've been talking this over with customers (and any other iPhone X related concerns) here in our Official Apple iPhone X Pre-Order & Discussion Thread -- feel free to ask there if you have any more questions! Thank you!
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If you notice for all EIP's they have set a limit of $720 ($30/mo x 24 mo's) so any phone over $720 will have a down payment + tax with the down payment being the phone price - $720. All the latest phones including the Samsung S8's and Note 8 have had down payments even with JUMP 1 or new customer starting a new EIP.