Sprint Follows Rival Carriers in Smartphone Upgrades

Sprint Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, followed its competitors in making it easier for customers to upgrade to a new phone more often.

A new service called Sprint One Up lets customers get a fresh smartphone every 12 months, the company said today in a statement. The plan, combined with unlimited voice, text and Internet access, starts at $65 a month.

Sprint joins larger rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, which embraced similar policies in July. The movement was started in the U.S. by T-Mobile US Inc., the fourth-largest carrier, which broke from the industry’s tradition of locking customers into a phone for two years. T-Mobile’s offering, called Jump, lets users upgrade their phones twice a year for a $10 monthly fee.

Sprint, which doesn’t separate out the cost of the upgrade program from its monthly service charges, said its program was the best value in the industry.

“Unlike other carriers, Sprint guarantees the unlimited talk, text and data for life,” Dan Hesse, chief executive officer of the Overland Park, Kansas-based company, said in today’s statement. “No other plan can compare.”

Sprint unveiled the program on the same day Apple Inc. released new iPhones, an event that typically triggers a wave of upgrades among smartphone users. As many as 6 million of the new models could be sold in their debut, estimates Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos.

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