Signing for a loan changes everything.
If you take out a loan to purchase your new handset you are responsible to pay it off even if the carrier goes out of business. You will no longer have the opportunity for the carrier to waive the ETF because you moved to an area where there is no service. Biggest problem, is with CDMA handsets which are not compatible between carriers. You can wind up paying $600.00 for a useless piece of plastic.