T-Mobile has JUMP, AT&T has Next and Verizon has Edge – that leaves Sprint as the only member of the Big Four without an early upgrade program, but not for long! According to CNET, Sprint is jumping in with its own service on September 20th, dubbed One Up. Keep in mind that Sprint has yet to confirm or deny the new program, so speculation is advised.
Like similar upgrade programs, Sprint’s One Up supposedly allows customers to pick up a phone for outright pricing and split the cost into 24 monthly payments. Unlike its rivals, all of Sprints handsets are said to be eligible for the program with no money down.
Obviously, the most important aspect of an ‘early upgrade program’ is the ability to get a new phone in a timely manner. How does Sprint compare here? Like AT&T, One Up only lets you trade up for a better handset once a year, versus twice a year for Verizon and T-Mobile’s programs. While once a year is probably enough for most folks, this could certainly be seen as a weak point.
On the plus side, Sprint will offer a $15 discount on its Unlimited, My Way or All-In service plans. Although T-Mobile recently cut down its pricing when it switched to its “uncarrier model”, Verizon and AT&T both charge the same for its plans, regardless of whether you have a subsidized phone or not.
Outside of discount pricing and once-a-year upgrades, One Up also allows customers to leave the Now Network at any time – as long as they pay off the phone’s balance in full. Additionally, customers that are at least one year into a contract have the option of switching to the One Up program.
Does Sprint’s upgrade plan really ‘One Up’ the competition?
At first glance, the leaked “smartphone comparison” chart shows that Sprint’s One Up offers the best value when it comes to phone upgrade programs. Looking closer, it becomes clear that Sprint is doing its best to skew the data in their favor.
For example, looking at the initial costs of handsets under these plans, a phone will supposedly cost you $208 from T-Mobile. Assuming a T-Mobile phone requires $99 down (which many don’t), that’s still $109 for sales tax and activation fees, which we find kind of hard to believe – especially when the $70 unlimited T-Mobile plan waives the $35 activation fee.
Swimming through the propaganda, the Sprint One Up program still looks to be a pretty decent alternative to what other carriers are offering for upgrade programs, though it’s not necessarily any better. If anything, Sprint simply took a few positives (and negatives) from each of the existing upgrade programs and melded them together the best they could.
Of course, even a fairly strong upgrade program matters little if your coverage isn’t up to snuff. Some folks have no problem with the Now Network, but there are areas in the United States where service is arguably less than perfect.
Based on what we currently know, what do you think of Sprint’s One Up? How do you feel it compares to the competition?
Update: It’s official! Sprint has now confirmed the existence of its new One Up program, which is available immediately. All previously leaked details about the program were spot on, including the $15 service discount and the ability to upgrade your device once a year.
It is worth mentioning that Sprint’s “no money down on any phone” offer is actually limited, though no word how much the down-payments will eventually be.