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Down payments depend on your credit worthiness and device cost.
Hypothetically, after 24 months, you can get a device with 0 down payment, provided it's within your credit limit.
Either way, the total cost over 24 months is the same -- down payment is removed from your monthly payments (just like when financing a home or car).
The only way to get a "free upgrade" is when you are leasing a phone (the so called Jump Lease), which is not the same as an EIP. For EIP, there is no "cost" associated with an upgrade, but that is different than whether or not a new device requires a down payment. The down payment, even for people with good credit, can still be hundreds of dollars -- it depends on the phone. It seems that t-mobile likes to keep its payment plan to about 30 ish dollars per month.. so a new fangled iPhone might require a 200 dollar upfront payment. They have a new plan for the xs max (1200 dollars for 128Gig) that goes over 3 years for people with excellent credit.. that still requires a 500 dollar down payment, but the monthly goes down to about 20. However if you buy the iPhone Xr, the new budget iPhone for only 799, there is no down payment, and payments would be around 33 per month (33 x 24 = 792).. Obviously this can all be offset by the worth of the device you trade in, or any kind of promotion going on -- sometimes the promotion is a bill credit, meaning you'd still make your down payment, but your monthly payment would go down usually by the promotion divided over 24 months.