NEW YORK (USA Today) — Take a look at your smartphone. It’s likely an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and you’re probably tied to it with a two-year contract — and assume you always will be.

Change is constant in technology of course, but when you get around to buying that next phone, which might be sooner than you think, you’ll find a very different market.

Here’s a snapshot of the shifting landscape.

Traditional two-year contracts are yesterday’s news: Verizon Wireless’ announcement last week that it was killing upfront phone subsidies and eliminating two-year contracts helps codify a trend that began back 2013 when T-Mobile killed such contracts as part of its Un-Carrier marketing strategy.

Contract pricing hasn’t completely disappeared — at least not yet — and you can still purchase subsidized phones. But AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon are pushing consumers towards installment billing options that have you buying or leasing phones outright. Of course, you could be paying off that phone over the next two years.


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