There is an emerging trend among U.S. carriers that seems to point toward the decline of the traditional postpaid contract. T-Mobile, for one, is now pushing its Value Plans, thereby removing the subsidized cost of the phone from the monthly bill. Now we have a new pre-paid offering from Sprint, which will reportedly launch on January 25th, according to sources cited by Android Police.
Dubbed Sprint As You Go, the new prepaid service will be a boon to folks who feel too restricted by a contract, and those who want more control over their mobile spending. Sprint As You Go will basically include unlimited voice, texting and data for a fixed monthly price, while additional services can be availed for an additional cost.
The prepaid service has a limited set of handsets, though, and users cannot simply switch over their postpaid phones to prepaid. Upon launch, Sprint As You Go will include the following smartphones: LG Optimus Elite for $149.99 and Samsung Galaxy Victory for $249.99. Note that these are not LTE-equipped models. The service will also include the Samsung M400 and Samsung Array, feature phones that will cost $49.99 and $79.99, respectively.
Monthly service for the featurephones will cost $50, while users will need to pay $70 per 30 days for service on the smartphone offerings. These include unlimited voice, unlimited SMS, data, voice roaming and 1XRTT roaming. The plan does not include EV-DO roaming by default.
Initial observations would indicate that the monthly prepaid plan may not exactly be competitive. For instance, Sprint has an $80 Everything Data plan that includes unlimited texting and data, plus 450 minutes. This is just 10 bucks more expensive than the Sprint As You Go smartphone plan. Likewise, Sprint's own MVNO offerings Boost Mobile and Virgin have cheaper unlimited prepaid plans, at $50 and $55, respectively.
Still, the new service is targeted at potential customers — or existing ones — who would rather not sign lengthy service contracts, nor pay hefty deposits and fees. It's also a good way to control one's expenses, as you will need to pay for services beforehand, thereby reducing possible overages.
The service will not require credit checks, and will not require customers to preset ID. A credit card will only be required to buy additional premium services. Sprint is likely to recommend its Sprint as You Go service to users who have applied for a postpaid line, but are discouraged by the idea of paying high deposits (or who are not approved due to credit reasons).
All in all, it's yet another alternative to the usual postpaid plan, and could be good for folks who want Sprint service, but would rather not go for MVNOs like Virgin and Boost, which have a bandwidth limit of 2.5GB before your speed is throttled down. If you're a smartphone enthusiast, though, you might be disappointed with the limited handset offering, lack of EV-DO roaming, and the lack of LTE.
Interested in a prepaid plan? You can check out our latest guide to the best monthly prepaid plans to help you make the decision.