Sprint ‘One Ups’ Competitors with Upgrade Plan

Better late than never, Sprint is finally getting ready to enter the smartphone upgrade wars that T-Mobile launched this summer. But does Sprint's program differ from what its three main rivals are already offering?

Sprint is calling its early upgrade program, "One Up." Scheduled to launch on Sept. 20, it will work much the same way as competing programs. Of course, Sprint is positioning One Up as less expensive than the rest, claiming its Unlimited, My Way customers will save $220 each versus T-Mobile in the first year, more than $500 versus AT&T and nearly $600 more than wireless customers who opt for Verizon.

We turned to Jeff Kagan, a wireless analyst in Atlanta, to get his take on Sprint's entry into the smartphone upgrade wars. He told us he has been wondering when the United States' third-largest carrier would dive in.

"The wireless industry continues to grow and change. Keeping up with customer demands and competitive offerings is key," he said. "This is good news for Sprint customers who want to upgrade their devices once a year instead of once every two years."

Comparing Plan Details

Sprint's choice of names for its program is interesting, considering this stage of the carrier wars officially started when AT&T one-upped T-Mobile, the company it couldn't buy. T-Mobile debuted Jump in July, which charges consumers $10 a month for the freedom to upgrade their phones as often as twice a year after six months of service.

AT&T responded with Next, which rolled out on July 26. Customers pay monthly installments for the devices they select. After 12 payments, they can trade them in and upgrade to brand new devices or they can keep using the devices they have. After 20 monthly payments, the devices belong to the consumers free and clear. And there's no penalty for paying off the...

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