Finally, AT&T won't rip you off with an early iPhone upgrade

Well this is a relief: AT&T is offering a much better upgrade deal for an iPhone 4. Thank goodness. Now those of us who are mindlessly ensnared in Apple's continuous iPhone upgrade loop won't get clipped for that extra couple hundred dollars like we did last year when we upgraded to the iPhone 3GS.

If you're an AT&T customer, go to the AT&T wireless site, login, and click on "Check Upgrade Options" to see for yourself. If you bought the iPhone last June on the cheapest plan with AT&T, you can now get the subsidized price on the new one Steve Jobs will announce today, plus an $18 "upgrade fee." We don't know about the pricing of the upcoming iPhone 4 yet (update, we do now!), but whatever those "low" numbers quoted by Steve Jobs are, you'll only have to pay $18 more than that (plus tax). Hallelujah.

But don't forget — over the course of the two-year contract you'll be signing, it'll still cost you upwards of $2,000 total. Go ahead, Apple, clip us for a 40% margin. That's bad enough, but the worst thing we begrudge about the entire deal is AT&T's price for texting, which is the biggest ripoff in the world.

UPDATE: To find out about your eligibility for the $18 upgrade price, dial *639# on your current AT&T cellphone, and you'll get a text with the verdict. Hint: If you bought a new iPhone last June, you're in!

AT&T, via MacRumors