Following Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s comment that his company would happily follow in T-Mobile’s footsteps and offer contract-free smartphones with payments spread out over time, the carrier announced that it is taking the first steps toward that goal — sort of. In an update to Verizon’s original announcement that it will abandon early upgrades, the company has confirmed that beginning April 21st, it will make select smartphones and tablets available on a 12-month payment plan that does not require a new service contract. This is great for customers who plan to upgrade to the latest and greatest each year, but Verizon is the real winner here: The carrier’s service pricing will remain unchanged, which means users who opt for the 12-month payment plan will also still be forking over the device subsidies that are built into the cost of Verizon’s smartphone plans.