I just ran across some info about the pricing iPhone pricing. As you may notice below, I was trying to get the whole thing figured out yesterday. I thought I had the problem licked, but apparently not. Had a go at the online ordering system, and was told to pay the no-commitment price. Wow, really?
So after dealing with the folks at the AT&T store again, I was advised to call corporate AT&T help. Apparently, they have a much fuller understanding of pricing. As it turns out if you have ever taken the "early upgrade" pricing on the iPhone 3G, you cannot get early upgrade pricing again. Nope, not even if you're willing to agree to a new 2-year contract.
Of course, this detail escapes the notice of almost everyone at AT&T. I certainly wasn't told about it when I got the 3G. Oh well. $599 for the new phone? That's a tough sell.
If you are a current iPhone 3G customer, and you are planning to go for the early-upgrade, think it over first. You will NOT be able to do it again. You will have to finish the contract. They will not offer you any discounts until you complete at least 18 months, or as many as 22 months of your new contract. Apple will inevitably release another iPhone next year. When that happens, you'll be stuck with the full retail price. AT&T is not training their employees properly. They will not explain this to you if you come in to do the early-upgrade.