Called its "Annual Upgrade Program", Verizon is starting with the launch of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
To be eligible for the program, Verizon has said you will simply need to purchase a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge (pre-orders count too) on a lease. Once you have paid off 50 percent of the handset, at least 30 days after purchase you are eligible for a new phone from Verizon.
Verizon is selling the Galaxy S7 for $28 per month for 24 months ($672 retail price), while the Galaxy S7 Edge costs $33 per month for 24 months ($792 retail price). So essentially you can pay off only half your lease and have the Galaxy S8 when it comes out next year (if Samsung doesn't pull any surprises). In the past, you would have to pay off the full lease balance.
Verizon launched a similar program for the iPhone, last year.
Verizon's competing carriers and Apple have similar upgrade programs and highlight a momentous change in the US' mobile business. In the past, customers would pay $199 and be locked into a two-year contract -- with no early upgrade in sight without a hefty early termination fee.