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AT&T supposedly offering iPhone 5 for free with iPhone 4S trade-in, 2-year contract

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America's number two wireless telecom and Apple partner carrier AT&T recently started sending out promotional emails to certain iPhone 4S owners on its network, saying that they can take advantage of special trade-in pricing that effectively negates the upfront cost of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5.

According to an email received by AppleInsider reader Ryan, AT&T is offering up to $200 for used iPhone 4S handsets, which customers can put toward the cost of a new iPhone 5. Currently, the telecom is pricing the 16GB version of Apple's latest handset at $199 with a two-year contract.

It should be noted that the veracity of the email could not immediately be verifed, and it is unclear whether the initiative is national or local. AppleInsider has reached out to AT&T for more information and will update this article when a reply is received.

Taking the above into consideration, it appears the offer is only available to existing AT&T customers and could be an extension of the company's latest trade-in program that officially launched earlier this month. That promotion, however, limits trade-in values to $100 and has no mention of the iPhone 5.

The email notes that the price of the handset does not include upgrade fees, which is curious considering most iPhone 4S owners will not be up for a free upgrade for some months. However, closer inspection of the terms reveals the promotional ad could have been automatically generated from a template, as it states, "For $200 trade-in value, iPhone 4S must be 3 yrs old or newer & in good & working condition." Apple launched the iPhone 4S in 2011.

From the email's fine print:

Limited time offer subject to change at any time. Offer only available in AT&T owned stores. iPhone 5 16GB Offer: Applies to iPhone 16 GB priced at $199.99 w/new 2-yr agreement w/voice (min $39.99/mo) & data (min $20/mo) plans or Mobile Share plan (min $85/mo). Free after using $200 AT&T Promotion Card received with eligible trade-in.

U.S. wireless carriers have recently used the iPhone 5 to lure in new customers, or push existing customers toward upgrading. Last week, for example, T-Mobile held a "$0 down" trade-in promotion for Mother's Day, while Verizon earlier today targeted feature phone users with special $99 iPhone 5 pricing.