Early adopters, rejoice: AT&T begins rolling back upgrade eligibility dates for the next iPhone

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Okay, I’ve got big news. Really – you’re going to want to sit down for this one. Ready? Apple.. is going to release a new iPhone this year. Probably next month.

Why is your jaw not dropping? Sure, Apple releases a new iPhone every year in June — and sure, the next iPhone has already played a pivotal part in a massive scandal that resulted in a police raid on a blogger’s house. But.. but..

Fine. At this point, a new iPhone announcement in June isn’t really a surprise. It’s more of a tradition — and this year, it looks like AT&T is getting ready a bit early.

Early this morning, we received a report from a reader:

Not sure if anyone [..] has noticed this same thing, but my Upgrade Eligibility date on my AT&T account switched from 11/21 to 6/21 in the last day or so. I bought a 3GS on launch day last year, and my upgrade date read 11/21 since then. A few other folks in my office have noticed the same changes happening to their accounts as well.

Upgrade eligibility jumping from November 21st to June 21st, eh? You know what happens in June? Flag Day, people — not to mention Father’s Day and the Philippine Independence Day. Also, new friggin’ iPhones.

We’ve since confirmed that this isn’t an isolated incident, but it’s definitely not showing up for everyone. AT&T could be rolling this out across their database slowly. Another possibility: they may not have intended for anyone to see this yet, and just borked the query for a handful of people. AT&T offered up early upgrade paths for long-time iPhone owners with both the 3G and the 3GS.

Now, onto the date itself: Could this day, June 21st, be the day that the next iPhone hits the shelves? Quite possibly. It’s worth noting, however, that it would mean bucking tradition: June 21st is a Monday, whereas Apple has launched every single previous iPhone on a Friday. Friday launches are all about the numbers: less people work on weekends, meaning more people have time to buy the iPhone in the first 3 days.

Apple’s got two venues from which they could announce the fourth gen iPhone: WWDC (where they’ve announced every other iPhone), which begins on June 7th this year, or the Yerba Buena Arts Center, which Apple has purportedly locked down for June 22nd (one day after the upgrade eligibility date).

What say you? What do you think will happen?

UPDATE – AT&T writes:

There has been no change in policy around eligibility dates. Our existing policy aims to allow customers to upgrade to new devices as early as possible – exact timing is based on a variety of factors (length of contract, payment history, etc.) unique to each customer’s account. We constantly update our systems based on these factors, meaning some customers become eligible earlier than they anticipated.

[Thanks Rob!]

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