Sprint drops iPhone price to $150


Sprint has slashed the price of its iPhones by $50 in what a company spokeswoman called a “back to school promotion.” It has also waived its $36 activation fee on the device.

It’s noteworthy anytime a carrier cuts the price of the iPhone, since Apple is typically rigid about its pricing. Yet when a price cut comes in the late summer, it generally means one thing: A new iPhone is coming soon.

In previous years, Walmart and some other retailers have knocked a few bucks off the iPhone in the weeks before the next-generation device was set to go on sale. But $50 is pretty extraordinary, especially from a carrier that is losing money each quarter.

With its roughly $15 billion, five-year iPhone sales commitment to Apple, Sprint may be looking to clear away some inventory to boost its sales numbers. Sales haven’t been bad, averaging about 1.5 million iPhone each quarter, but they’re nowhere near the levels its bigger rivals Verizon and AT&T are selling. -David

What the carriers have to say about CarrierCompare

Here are the carriers’ responses to SwayMarkets’ CarrierCompare iPhone app data.

AT&T: “While we haven’t reviewed the data, there are always puts and takes in these types of surveys. AT&T is the only wireless provider offering a 4G experience based on deployment of HSPA+ technology and new LTE services in many markets, which gives our customers access to the nation’s largest 4G network covering more than 260 million people.”

Sprint: “Sprint values this kind of customer-centric third-party speed testing and we are not surprised to see that Sprint’s speeds are the most consistent in the industry. Sprint understands that peak speeds are fun, but consistently fast speeds mean a better overall experience. While we know speed matters to customers, we also know they value the overall experience they get from their carrier: a combination of speed, consistent network quality, customer experience and value for the price they pay, and Sprint continues to invest in all aspects of the wireless experience. 

"We recognize, too, that as more and more customers embrace all the capabilities of wireless devices, data speeds will increase in importance and Sprint is deploying a brand new network to meet that demand now and into the future. The deployment is well underway and expected to be largely complete by the end of next year. The result will be not only the addition of 4G LTE but also improved 3G service: even better coverage, call quality and data speeds. Cell sites with the new equipment are popping up across the country now and will continue to come on air over the next 24 months covering the entire CDMA footprint."

Verizon: “Our own internal studies and other, major third-party surveys agree that the Verizon Wireless 3G outperforms competitors’ networks (whether they are called 3G or 4G)  in terms of reliability, consistent speeds, coverage, responsiveness and overall customer experience. We have a long-standing commitment to providing our customers an outstanding network experience, and it shows not only in our 3G network, which was tested here, but in our 4G LTE network as well.  The Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network is the nation’s largest and most advanced 4G LTE network.” 


How SwayMarkets compared the 3G network data

Our story on the best iPhone carrier relied heavily on data generated by users of CarrierCompare, an app developed by Boston-based startup SwayMarkets. Here’s what co-founder Amos Epstein had to say about the methodology behind the statistics: 

"SwayMarkets collected & analyzed between 15,000 and 40,000 data points across each city, with care taken to ensure representative sampling over both location & time. As opposed to more conventional drive testing or sponsored surveys, all our data is crowdsourced. Our results are more indicative of customers’ actual experience with their phones."

Sprint is capping its hotspot. Goodbye Sprint.

Ever since the Evo came out in June 2010, I have been telling anyone who would listen how wonderful the phone, and Sprint’s underlying service, have been. I loved the 4G, and Sprint’s customer service has been helpful every time. 

But now I am going to have to say goodbye. See, ever since I got the phone I’ve been using its hotspot feature as my main Internet line. Until now. According to Boy Genius Report, Sprint will be following the other providers and capping the hotspot data at 5 GB a month. They may also be charging $.05/MB for anything over. Which is $50/GB. Which is insane.

Sprint, I would happily pay much more than the current $29.99 you are charging me for the unlimited data I have now. I’d love to stay with you, but this is one of the main things I look for in a phone. I’m going to make this clear to every carrier because they don’t seem to get it - there are people called power users, they want a lot of high speed mobile bandwidth, and they will pay to have it.

Sprint’s MiFi devices offer unlimited 4G data starting at $44.99/month and go all the way up to $89.99/month (the prices change based on how much 3G data you want to use). I would happily pay up to that $89.99 ($60 and THREE TIMES more than I currently pay!!) to keep using my phone as my main Internet line and have it with me wherever I go. The only problem is, it doesn’t seem Sprint will offer that with their phones, only their hotspot-only devices. Something I have no desire to carry around with me.

Carriers - stop nickel and diming your customers. There is a demand for unlimited data plans. Create them, set a price for them, tell your customers about them, and be done with it. - Matt

Why Verizon needs to stop offering unlimited data


Chart: CNNMoney

Wonder why unlimited data plans are going the way of disco? Mobile Internet usage is exploding. In just 4 years, global mobile data traffic will grow by more than 11-fold to 6.2 million terabytes per month, according to Cisco.

Meanwhile, it’s costing carriers $50 billion each year to upgrade their networks in an attempt to meet customers’ demand for more mobile data.

That cost is getting passed on to you. (It’s so kind of you to pick up your wireless company’s tab!) -David

This proposed takeover puts our mobile broadband future at a crossroads. We can choose the open, competitive road best traveled, and protect American consumers, innovation and our economy, or we can choose the dead end that merely protects only AT&T and leads the rest of us back down the dirt road to Ma Bell.

That’s Vonya B. McCann, senior vice president of government affairs for Sprint, doing her best to channel Robert Frost. Sprint formally asked the FCC to deny AT&T’s plan to acquire T-Mobile.

Sprint has much to gain from that merger not going through. As I wrote on Friday, the company is currently third in what’s shaping up as a two-horse race in wireless. Some think Sprint’s public stance against the T-Mobile deal is just an attempt to win some favorable concessions. 

But Sprint is disputing that cynical claim. In a press release about its FCC filing Tuesday, Sprint said it has “concluded the proposed acquisition cannot be remedied through divestitures or conditions.” Sprint, pulling no punches, also referred to AT&T and Verizon as the “Twin Bell duopolists.”

Sort of makes me wonder if AT&T and Verizon have powers like the Wonder Twins of “Super Friends” fame! Wonder Twin Bell powers … activate! Form of … an iPhone 4! Shape of … a water bucket! And if I take this tortured analogy one step further, is T-Mobile the equivalent of Gleek, the annoying space monkey sidekick?   

Anyway, Sprint may have a tough time stopping the marriage of AT&T with the house of Dwayne Wade and the polka dot dress-favoring spokesgirl. But this should be a fun battle to watch. — Paul

Blockbuster, stay off my phone!

I have a slight issue with Android phones. They all come with different bloatware - those programs that come pre-installed (Windows is notorious for this) that you never use (and are usually trials and require purchasing full versions or subscriptions). I do not watch NASCAR nor do I follow football, yet there are two separate apps that came preloaded on my EVO that I can’t delete for both of these sports. Along with “Sprint Zone,” which I opened for the first time just now and says it “will help you stay connected to the latest and greatest info from Sprint.”

Now if you root an Android phone, you can eliminate all this. I’ve been tolerant of it, mainly because I like the HTC interface and the main reason for many to root is to not pay $30/month for the wireless hotspot. However, I’m a data hog and Sprint will notice immediately if I’m not paying and transmitting massive amounts of data.

But today I received news that will make me root immediately. According to Sprint, the next OTA update to the phone will include the following: a trial version of the NOVA game (which I have already bought and paid for, thx!), an update to Sprint Zone (yes! more Sprint news!), the Kindle app (you guys know this phone leeches battery life, right?), and a Blockbuster app.

It’s the last one that disgusts me. I can tolerate all the others. Heck, I might even attempt to read something quick with the Kindle app. But I just can’t handle having the Blockbuster app on my phone. I refuse to pay $3.99 to rent something I’m going to watch on a 4” screen. The idea repulses me, and I can’t support anything that even attempts to allow it. And you know what? Blockbuster is not cool! Android users are stereotyped as ahead of the curve. We are young and smart and “in the know.” You know what the opposite of all that is? Blockbuster! You know how you can tell this is not something people are stoked for? They are literally pushing their product onto people. They’re like the people on the street handing out fliers for some “free” comedy show (with a two drink minimum and a Coke is 10 bucks), but somehow you can’t say no and walk away - instead you have to say yes to all of them, keep them on your body, and in your pockets and never throw them away.

Plus: at their pricing I can get three movies for the same amount I’m giving to Netflix each month for an unlimited number of movies. Does this business model make sense to anyone??? - Matt