Sprint Cell Phone Plans Review
Sprint may be one of the “Big Four” in the mobile industry, but in many ways it acts like a budget carrier. The company’s prices trend lower than other major players, it offers free international coverage, and its phone deals are on-the-hook! (Sorry about that one).
Of course, there’s a catch. Sprint’s coverage map reveals some gaping holes, especially in rural areas. There’s a good chance that some of those holes will be patched with the upcoming Sprint/T-Mobile merger, but we don’t know for sure.1
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about Sprint before you decide to sign up (or not).
Looking for a deal on your next phone?
Sprint unlimited plans
It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of texts, calls, and data for just one low price.
Sprint unlimited plans
- Affordable plans
- Tons of unthrottled data
- Lower streaming and gaming quality on cheaper plans
- Less-than-optimal rural coverage
What we like
Sprint’s biggest selling point is its plan prices—especially for unlimited text and data. If you live in an area where Sprint offers good coverage (say, a city), then it’s a great way to get an A-level plan for B-level pricing.
Sprint’s plan structure is simple: pretty much every single plan that the company offers comes with unlimited text, calls, and data. (Yes, you read that right.) The more expensive plans offer better streaming quality, more hotspot data, and other perks.
Plenty of plan options
When you put Sprint’s plans under a microscope, you start to notice that there are some differences in what they offer.
For example, the Unlimited Basic plan will only get you video streams up to 480p (that episode of The Mandalorian might look a bit grainy) and gaming streams up to 2 Mbps (your PUBG Mobile streak might be ruined by latency).
But if you opt for the more expensive Unlimited Plus plan, then you’ll get HD-quality video streaming, 50 GB of mobile hotspot data, and free subscriptions to Hulu and Tidal so that you can enjoy your data to the fullest.
With the Unlimited Plus plan, you’ll also get unlimited talk, text, and 10 GB of data in Mexico and Canada. (If you travel a lot, then you might want to check out these other plans too.)
50 GB of unthrottled data
While Sprint’s unlimited plans are just that, unlimited, it does say it can throttle your speeds if you use too much. That’s standard among cellular providers. But what’s not so standard is that Sprint gives you a full 50 GB of data before throttling. (That’s about the equivalent of streaming 16 HD movies!)
If 50 GB still isn’t enough for you, then you might want to look at Verizon’s Get More Unlimited plan, which will give you 75 GB (!) of unthrottled data for $90 a month.
What we don’t like
Don’t make us say it again.
Okay fine, we’ll say it again: Sprint’s coverage is not as good as other major carriers, especially in rural areas. While this won’t be a huge problem for most people, it will definitely be a deal breaker for others.
No prepaid plans
Sprint has been phasing out its prepaid plan options. If you’ve already got a prepaid plan, you should be able to keep it. But if you’re a new customer looking for prepaid, you should just head on over to the Sprint-owned Boost Mobile, which has dirt-cheap prepaid plans.
How do Sprint’s unlimited plans compare?
Okay, Sprint talks a big game about how cheap it is compared to other wireless providers. But let’s compare unlimited plans so you can see how much moolah you’ll actually save.
Unlimited plans comparison
As you can tell, Sprint is considerably cheaper than its competition. Before you get too excited, remember that the cheap price comes at a cost: spotty service. If you live near a big city, then you’re in luck, friend—but rural homesteaders of the world, you might want to consider one of the other three major carriers.
Sprint family plans
Unlimited data for the whole family, from your great-aunt Bertha to your second cousin Jared.
- Awesome prices
- Tons of data
- Cool perks
- Poor coverage in rural areas
What we like
Of all the major carriers, Sprint has the cheapest family plans. No surprise there. But what is surprising is just how robust these plans can be.
Tons of data
Even Sprint’s cheapest family plans come with unlimited data. After 50 GB, that data may be throttled, but that should still be enough for everyone in the family to stream Spotify to their heart’s content.
If you opt for the fancier (*cough* pricier *cough*) Unlimited Premium plan, then you’ll get 100 GB of shared data before you see any slowdowns.
Just like Sprint’s regular unlimited plans, some of these family plans come with enticing perks. Would you like free subscriptions to Tidal, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Lookout? Why yes, we would, thank you very much!
Want to save even more on your family plan?
What we don’t like
We’ll give you one guess . . . yep, you got it: coverage.
Sure, you might be fine with having poor coverage in Idaho. But what does your uncle, who’s been building a sheep farm up there, think about that?
How do Sprint’s family plans compare?
Sprint family plans comparison
For once, Sprint’s plans aren’t the cheapest of the Big Four. But that’s because even Sprint’s lowest level family plans offer unlimited data. When compared to AT&T’s 10 GB or Verizon’s 8 GB, that unlimited data sounds pretty good—especially if you’ll be splitting it four or five ways!
Sprint special features
Sprint’s coverage in rural Utah might not be that good, but if you hop on over to Spain, then you’ll be in luck. Even with the company’s cheapest plans, you’ll get free texting and data use in most countries—although your speeds will only be around 2G.
You’ll still have to pay for voice calls, unless you’re roaming in Canada or Mexico, in which case you’ll get unlimited talk and text, plus at least 5 GB of 4G LTE data.
Discounts for everyone
Well, maybe not everyone. But Sprint does offer discounted plans to seniors, military service members (active and veterans), AAA members, AAdvantage members, credit union members, and Walgreens Rewards members.
Free Hulu, Tidal, and Amazon Prime
All of Sprint’s unlimited plans come with a free Hulu Limited Commercials plan that would normally set you back $5.99 per month.
The Unlimited Plus plan also gives you a free Tidal music account and a 50 GB LTE hotspot.
Go with the Unlimited Premium plan and you’ll get Hulu, Tidal, Lookout (mobile security service), Amazon Prime, and a 100 GB LTE hotspot.
The perks just got real, folks!
Sprint cell phones and devices
Can’t download the newest version of Candy Crush Saga on your old clunker? Sprint can help you upgrade.
You’ll find (almost) all the most popular phones at Sprint, including iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel. Here’s a look at some of the most popular devices that are available.
If you’re not seeing the phone you want at a price you can afford, then head on over to our weekly deals page to see the best discounts, promotions, and price-reductions on Sprint phones.
How good is Sprint’s coverage?
Main takeaway on coverage
We’ve talked a lot about how Sprint’s coverage doesn’t stack up against the competition. For example, OpenSignal’s latest Mobile Network Experience Report found that Sprint only had 4G availability 89.5% of the time (compared to Verizon’s 94.8%).2
But the good news is that Sprint is working on it. The latest report from RootMetrics found that the company’s network had improved significantly in 2019.3 We expect for that trend to continue in a big way now that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger has come together. T-Mobile has one of the better networks available and will shore up a lot of Sprint’s weaknesses. We still don’t know exactly how much things will improve, but we’ll update our review as soon as we do.
To learn more about how Sprint’s network compares to the rest of the big four, check out our full mobile coverage review.
How will the Sprint/T-Mobile merger affect Sprint customers?
You may have heard that Sprint plans to merge with T-Mobile to create a new, massive company (“with our powers combined . . .”) in the mobile industry. The process has been approved and is expected to take about three years, but the exact timeline is still up in the air.
While we’re a bit worried that a huge merger like this could hurt the industry overall, it isn’t necessarily bad news for individual Sprint customers.
Sure, prices could go up, but that probably won’t happen in the short term. Meanwhile, experts predict that customers from both companies will see better coverage, increased speeds, and faster 5G rollout.
Sprint customer service
Sprint is eager to please, but its customers aren’t always convinced.
No one can say Sprint isn’t trying. When you visit its website, you’ll see a little chat window pop up to ask you if you need help. If you tag the company on Twitter, then you’re likely to get a quick response. But clearly, it’s not enough.
In the latest Wireless Service and Cellular Telephone Report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Sprint comes in dead last, with a score of 65 (out of 100).4 *Sigh*
But there may be a bright light in the future for Sprint customers, and that bright light is T-Mobile. If the two companies go ahead with their planned merger, Sprint will be absorbed by the company that got the highest (76 out of 100) rating in ACSI’s report.
Does Sprint have overage charges or hidden fees?
Sprint charges government taxes and a couple of surcharges on every monthly bill. That’s normal for a major provider.
You know what else is normal for major carriers? An activation fee. Sprint will charge you $30 per line when you sign up.
Don’t want to pay the fee? (Of course you don’t want to pay the fee.) Sprint will often run promotional deals that waive activation fees when you sign up online.
Sprint may not be the best mobile carrier for everyone, but it does offer some unbeatable prices that frugal customers won’t be able to ignore. Here’s a quick recap of the company’s strengths and weaknesses.
Unlimited plans: Sprint’s unlimited plans aren’t as cheap as they used to be before the T-Mobile merger. But considering that the merger will likely dramatically improve coverage, Sprint’s prices start to look a lot better.
Family plans: Sprint’s strength is, once again, its low prices. No company offers a cheaper way to share unlimited talk, text, and data with your family.
Network performance: Sprint’s low prices make more sense when you look at its coverage map. There are some big holes in places like New Mexico and Nevada.
Customer service: Sprint’s customer service is about as spotty as its network coverage in western Wyoming—and that’s not a compliment.
Sprint’s quality really comes down to one factor: does it have good service in your area or not? If it does, then you might want to take advantage of its low prices and great perks. If it doesn’t, then do yourself a favor and go with another carrier.
Q: I already own a phone—can I still sign up for Sprint?
Yes. You can transfer your existing phone over to Sprint service as long as it’s unlocked from your previous carrier.
Q: Can you make international calls with Sprint?
Most of Sprint’s free international coverage only includes text and data—not calls. If you want to make international calls, you’ll likely need to add international calling to your current plan. Exact rates depend on which country you want to call, so just check plan prices before you go.
Q: Can I keep my phone number?
Yes. Sprint allows you to transfer your phone number over from another carrier. You just have to provide some information during the checkout process, like your address and your old account number.
Q: Can I transfer my contacts to my new phone?
Yes. You can use a cloud storage service like Google Contacts or iCloud to save your contact information in your current phone and download it onto your new device.
- Yahoo Finance, “T-Mobile Closes Sprint Merger: What’s Next for Customers?”
- OpenSignal, “Mobile Network Experience Report July 2019”
- RootMetrics, “Review of the Mobile Landscape”
- American Customer Satisfaction Index, “Wireless Service and Cellular Telephone Report 2018-2019”