Sprint does a 180, brings back two-year contract options for smartphones

Sprint is bringing back two-year contract pricing options for its smartphones. The company previously announced it would ditch those contracts in August 2015, and it finally did so in early January 2016, but now the wireless carrier is offering those pricing plans again.

What happened? According to what a Sprint spokesperson told FierceWireless, it was based on customer demand:

"We listened to our customers and are giving them more choices to get their new device," Sprint spokeswoman Michelle Leff Mermelstein told FierceWireless. "Sprint is the only carrier to offer the most choices to obtain a new device -- lease, installment bill, two-year contract or pay full retail price."

The trend has been to offer customers either full price for purchasing smartphones or offer them under extended leases. T-Mobile has ditched two-year contracts, and AT&T has also gotten rid of those plans as well.

Source: Sprint

76 Comments
  • So here in UK you can opt for either a 24 month contract (which is what most people do) or you can buy an unlocked SIM-free handset untainted by carrier bloat and simply get a SIM-only deal (that's what I always do). Sounds like we have a very similar system to the US but the difference is that unlocked phones are easy to come by over here, both online and at retail stores.
  • Because they do not have two standards out there (GSM and CDMA).
  • For carriers in the US, if you buy a phone from them...it still has all their wonderful software...and you pay full price up front! Go freedom! We are lagging behind on this.
  • Desperate move - can't compete with the big boys (ATT and VZW) cause our service sucks and can't compete with up and comer who's stealing our customers (TMo) so we'll go back to the basic business model that failed before - it has to work this time, um right.....
  • Love it. Good job Sprint.
  • What about the 1 year contract. I was a big fan of that when they had it
  • All Sprint has to do is put out a ton of new towers and I'd switch. The tip is not included! So tip your Uber driver.
  • How have you not heard in the past 3 years lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • He probably has heard about the last 3 years. I will tell you a true story. I had Sprint at the beginning of 2015 and it was a trainwreck. Constant dropped calls, data was hardly 4G LTE or Sprint Spark, even though their coverage map shows the whole entire city highlighted with the coverage speeds, crappy customer service, didn't get the port in and credit promotions until I argued with them about it. Best thing that ever happened was when I called Sprints corporate headquarters and the executive office offered to drop the earlier termination fees. That was in early May of 2015. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sprint still sucks big donkey balls with coverage....once you go west of the mighty Mississippi forget about it unless you in a major city....hell east of Mississippi not much better lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not my experience at all. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Me neither. I have great coverage! Posted via Android Central App
  • As an over the road truck driver I have a sprint sorta quasi work phone. Note 5 and I have a verizon personal phone G3 unless you're in major cities forget about it. The difference is night and day between the two. Once you leave Omaha on 80 it's over for the 4G LTE. You have some when you hit Lincoln after forget it until Cheyenne. On Verizon I'll have 4G 99% of that trip from Omaha to Cheyenne. Sprint about 50% I can give you examples on i-90 I- 20 I- 40' i- 70 And god forbid you have to get off the interstate. I can be in the middle of nowhere Wyoming then again almost any place in Wyoming is in the middle of nowhere and have 4G with Verizon sprint hahaha Posted via the Android Central App
  • I-70 is a nightmare with Sprint in the Midwest region. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Soooo tru Posted via the Android Central App
  • Financing is better. People think they are really getting a subsidized phone. Too bad on two year plans the actual plan is more money, so all you're doing to paying Sprint more on the back end. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not really because on average you pay like $200 upfront on a 2 yr contract but if u decidd to cancel you only pay $325 etf at the most so after 14 days of service your paying is $525 for a phone that usually goes for like $649.99 full price. Look at iphone 128gb $949.99 retail with contract it is $499.99 upfront & $325 etf after 14 days. & what bought during the holidays when they use to have free phones with 2yr contract that are usually $200 upfront. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It used to be that way. The current ETF for Sprint is $350 and not all their phones are $200 down anymore. It varies by device. You also pay a "new customer fee" or "upgrade fee" of $36.
  • That $36 activation fee has been around for years and years. Posted via the Android Central App
  • youre missing the extra monthly charge for having a 2 year contract in the access fees though. those equal out the price which now makes it more expensive...
  • So I did some maths
    $170/month for 2 lines on their 24GB 2 year contract plan not including up front cost of the phones. It varies so sometimes it's $0 and sometimes it's $300. it will depend on the phone and sales/promos.
    Same plan with an installment plan costs the same and includes the price of a $600 phone
    So unless the phone costs nothing up front the contracts aren't very useful. But if you're switching from another carrier you get a decent deal. Contracts aren't offered with the switching promo.
    Switching from AT&T and getting 50% off the 25GB plan with 2 Galaxy S7 Edge installments would cost ~$165/month
    Same phones using Sprint's non contract plans would cost ~$182/month
    same phones on sprint contract plans would cost $170/month plus $600($300 per phone) up front.
    devide that $600 by $24 and that's an extra $25/month so on contract would cost $195/month Recap:
    24GB plans with 2 Galaxy S7 edge
    Sprint Contract : $195/month ($600 up front and $170/month)
    Sprint Installment plan: $182.50/month
    Switch to sprint from AT&T: $165
  • Not really. You are signing a longer contract by financing a phone. When I purchased my phones from AT&T they tried so hard to push the financing, because it's their job. However, you extend the contract terms. So a normal 24 month contract last 28 months with them before you are eligible to upgrade. Posted via the Android Central App
  • As employee we make the same amount no matter what plan you pick.
  • Prove it
  • How do you pay more? Posted via the Android Central App
  • That entirely depends on the plan you are on. With my current plan, I pay $77 a month and every couple of years, I pay $200 or so for a new phone. With the financing plans, I would have paid about the same for the plan and paid more the phone. Everyone needs to do the math for themselves to see which option is best.
  • really not a big difference in price. personally I always but my phones cause I despise carrier branding and bloatware. if I couldn't pay for it up front (which I couldn't when I was in college) I just took out a 0% credit card and financed it that way
  • Exactly. It depends on your plan and the phone you're getting. There usually isn't much of a difference unless you're buying an older phone. It's great that Sprint is bringing back the option so we can do the math and figure out for ourselves which is best. Posted via the Android Central App
  • When I heard about them getting rid of contracts I was upset because I had no reason to leave them so I figured I'd rather have a cheaper phone every two years. I knew they wouldn't simply lower my bill to reflect they were no longer subsidizing my phone. This all happened at about the same time T-mobile was giving Sprint customers $200 per line to switch in addition to paying off ETF so I jumped on that (I switched my wife as well and was under contract for one line). No way I'm switching back now. Turns out I don't care at all about unlimited data either. They really advertise that hard but in reality I only use 3GB per month so the lower monthly bill is nice and I still don't have to even think about data for anything I do ona phone. Even with a full price phone I am paying less per month than I was with Sprint so it worked out great for me.
  • In the future all carriers will be using LTE for data and voice.
  • Yeah, definitely works well for you, like you said. I crank out around 10gb a month. Switching to a data cap would make me broke, heh...
  • I'm with you. My family of 4 goes through over 40 gigs a month. We would be screwed without sprints unlimited data plan. Posted via Android Central App
  • I will never be tied down to a carrier or contract ever again. Love the freedom. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Now answer me this, How often do you switch carriers? and if you do it alot , then maybe its not the carrier thats the problem, maybe its YOU.
  • I don't think it's a bad thing to try out your options, if you can afford to, that is.
  • Like I said it's all about the freedom. Maybe a different plan will be ten dollars cheaper down the road than what I am paying now. Maybe coverage has increased with a different carrier. I like being in control not the other way around. Unlocked phones are the only way to go. Yes choices are limited in the US but I'm a Nexus guy anyways so no worries. It's just knowing I can leave anytime I want. Peace of mind. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • For me it's not the specific carrier. I've been very happy with AT&Ts network and pricing (except for their dismal international pricing). I hate being tied to their bloatware, and more importantly to their ridiculously slow release cycled even for security updates. Hence my use of a Nexus 6P. Is probably get an S7 Edge, but only if it was unlocked and not dependent on AT&T for updates. Samsung seems to be delivering the security updates for a few recent devices in a reasonably timely fashion. AT&T adds another 5 months on top of that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Exactly Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Hell yeah Dam It Feels Good To Be A Google Gangster
  • Why the hell would ANYONE want a two year contract? This isn't "choice". THat's like saying, "For dinner, you can have a hamburger, a pizza, or a rusty nail I found on the floor. It's your choice!"
  • Yes, it's better for the consumer but choice is best. If you upgrade your phone on contract as soon as you can (20 mth mark) it can be cheaper then paying it off over 24 on no contract. If you are on the best carrier (Verizon) who really cares about the contract anyways and if something major happened that you had to go to a cheaper carrier you just pay the ETA and sell the phone to make up for it. Pretty simple math...
  • From what I saw they were charging about the same per month on my plan, whether it was a 2 year contract or their new leasing thing. So with a 2 year, you are paying back the subsidized discount by the increased price over the 2 years built into the contract. With the new plan, you would be paying the subsidized price, plus the leasing fee over the 2 years, and then giving them back the phone when you upgrade. So if you wan the phone for tinkering or backup you're paying once for the baked in price, twice for the leasing, and then another half for keeping the phone.
  • AKA: We needed more business to compete with T-Mobile and we don't care about potential write off. Guarantee you this is just a temporary thing to appease a select few customers. Just wait until Sprint gets hit with all sorts of charge backs and fraudulent activity, they will stop all 2yrs again. Installment Billing is the future of the wireless industry. Just the facts.
  • There are options out there for buying unlocked phones at full price or installment payments from carriers. Even though most carriers in the U.S. got rid of "contracts" they're pretty much getting the money off the customer from the installment/leasing plans. No contracts, good. No contracts but now I'm paying full price for my device over 24, 30 months, whatever and people complain. People just like to whine and cry about everything. You can never make everyone happy. Plus here's a little hint: you can keep your phone up to 2-3 years ! But of course everyone wants the new (insert phone here). My phone will be 3 years old in May (LG Optimus G Pro). Is it a little slower from when I first got it ? Sure, but it's still useable. I like to keep my phones on average 2 years or so. So when I'm looking for a new phone I look for one that may last that long. *AT&T LG Optimus G Pro*
    *AT&T iPad Air 2 64gb*
  • Wow, I surprised the worst carrier was the one to finally figure out that forcing no contracts and buying phones outright was not doing them any favors... Amazing all these so called smart business people making decisions couldn't use any common sense to figure this out, they had to wait for the numbers to to flicker the light bulb...
  • Is it just me or is Sprint totally schizophrenic with plans and contracts? They keep doing things and changing their mind. Putting something in place, then another thing the next week. Smells like desperation.
  • Another reason not to be tied down . Carriers keep changing up on the fly. Sick and tired of keeping all of this straight. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • They all are lately but a one month reverse course is odd Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thank God for this change I am upgrade eligible and did not want to get forced into a payment plan for my phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You wouldn't have been, grandfathered people were still eligible for contracts. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Saw that they charge an access fee of $25 per phone in addition to their $75 a month unlimited plan. That's $100 a month + tax! No thanks I love my grandfathered T-Mobile all you can eat plan for $70 a month. However, I was lucky enough to realize that I could upgrade my wife's grandfathered unlimited $65 a monthly Sprint plan through Best Buy while they had the iPhone 6s 128 gig on sale for $200 two weeks ago :) and not be forced on the higher unlimited plan price. She was also able to wiggle her way out of the bullshit $25 a month access fee and $36 activation fee by telling Sprint she was jumping ship (while activating her new device) to T-Mobile. Shop smarter ;) NEXUS 6 and big hands, a win win.
  • I got in on their horribly named Framily plan a couple of years ago and have been rocking unlimited everything for less than $50/month after taxes. Rocking a Nexus 6 on it now and love the freedom to not worry about data limits, plus being in Chicago I've actually got pretty good Sprint coverage. Now if only I didn't have to worry about the other random people in the Framily plan dropping out, which could increase my bill considerably...
  • Same here. We've had a couple people drop out and then more always line up to take their place. If you need people just offer your Framily ID on reddit. Posted via the Android Central App
  • WTF Sprint, why are you moving backwards. There shouldn't be any such thing as phone contracts in 2016. Oh wait, it's Sprint. Nvm Posted via the Android Central App
  • Do the math and you will understand that the contract is better for you if you plan to stay.
    I did and last December with upgrading my daughter iPhone, the rep had to make few calls to give me the 2 years contract.
    The lease is the lamest business model I see there because after 2 lease of paying for the phone + insurance, you have to return it (good for the carrier, not so for the customer)
  • Contracts lol. In Google I trust.
  • Why would anyone be on Sprint? If you have to be on a CDMA provider then get on Verizon. If not then get an unlocked phone and give these communications companies the finger Posted via the Android Central App
  • Verizon's costs are far higher than Sprint's, and their phones have even more bloat, and are generally much harder to root. I'd definitely buy an unlocked phone if there were more readily available, competitively priced options than Nexus.
  • I've been with Sprint for almost 9 years. Their coverage in my small city is solid. I've never had an issue with contracts and subsidized phones. I'm on an employee plan, which Sprint gave me to switch from Verizon. We have 4 lines and pay $210 a month after taxes and fees. I was concerned when I heard they were doing away with contracts but my wife upgraded recently and was able to renew at a subsidized price. I know I've got it pretty good but I've got no issues being under contract. But different strokes for different folks. Posted via the Android Central App
  • More options are good. I just wish I didn't drop to 3G so often on Sprint. When I'm on 4G I get decent speeds, and my plan is far cheaper than anything I can get from the other major carriers.
  • My Sprint family plan contract is up in June, so I decided a few months ago to finance an iPad and iPhone through T-Mobile, with the thought I wouldn't renew on Sprint. The main reason I didn't want to renew has to do with them no longer offering upgrades, nothing with cost because my family plan bill has been $37 for a long time. I honestly don't see the difference between T-Mobile's no contract and 2 year contract on Sprint, especially if you're financing your device the entire 24 months. If you drop coverage you have to pay off the T-Mobile device(s) immediately , which can be higher than a ETF on Sprint. The plus with T-Mobile, and something I'm getting ready to do, is just pay your devices off within the first few months of financing and you can carry your phone to another carrier. The weird thing about that is there are only 3 major carriers in the USA and their spinoffs, where would you go??? Sprint has it's issues, but for me it is the only carrier with true unlimited data for those of us that have been with them for 5+ years. Data speeds in my area are actually really good, when I travel for work I always have service, unlike T-Mobile which has left me cold and dead a number of times.
  • The most options to get a new device and still the worst coverage. Maybe instead, try focusing on making your customers happy rather than making them regret ever choosing Sprint in the first place. Posted via LG G4
  • Sprint is for suckers.
  • I have sprint and they are still garbage. I cant believe tmo is number 4 to sprint.i miss tmo Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tmo is number 3 now. Sprint is dead last! Though in St. Louis we get pretty decent coverage and data speeds so I can't complain too much. Plus my wife and I are on legacy employee plans. $80 for two lines with unlimited everything. Pretty hard to beat that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • We have an unlimited family plan with Sprint since 2000 and pre pay before that. They were the most affordable at the time. The coverage was spotty . But for 2016 and LTE Plus in the Orlando market.. The coverage and speed is wonderful. We were however going to leave Sprint when our contracts expired this summer due to the contracts ending. If they stay with the contract model or at least offer existing ones to be continued we would be happy to stay with them. For us it's the best way to get the newest phones at a low upfront cost. We don't find the need now ,but to upgrade every two years anyway Taking only my G4 and my Re-camera into the Parks.
  • Buy international unlocked, not that carrier bloated crap they sell you.
  • For those on CDMA networks (Sprint and Verizon) this isn't an option. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Still on my grandfathered in "family plan" unlimited everything. Since early 02'-03'? Great coverage for me. 4 lines @ $215/mth including taxes. By the time taxes are added to other companies plans it equals more than what I'm paying now for 4 lines. No reason for all the hassle of switching in my opinion. The return of two year contacts is icing on the cake. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Have not had any problem with sprint in the last year and a half service was definitely rough before then but I could not give my up my unlimited plan. Posted via the Android Central App
  • BEST move they could have done! Choices are better. For me, I save WAY more with 2 year contracts.
  • Agreed, people just need to do the math for themselves and their situation to see which option is best. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So I did some maths
    $170/month for 2 lines on their 24GB 2 year contract plan not including up front cost of the phones. It varies so sometimes it's $0 and sometimes it's $300. it will depend on the phone and sales/promos.
    Same plan with an installment plan costs the same and includes the price of a $600 phone
    So unless the phone costs nothing up front the contracts aren't very useful. But if you're switching from another carrier you get a decent deal. Contracts aren't offered with the switching promo.
    Switching from AT&T and getting 50% off the 25GB plan with 2 Galaxy S7 Edge installments would cost ~$165/month
    Same phones using Sprint's non contract plans would cost ~$182/month
    same phones on sprint contract plans would cost $170/month plus $600($300 per phone) up front.
    devide that $600 by $24 and that's an extra $25/month so on contract would cost $195/month Recap:
    24GB plans with 2 Galaxy S7 edge
    Sprint Contract : $195/month ($600 up front and $170/month)
    Sprint Installment plan: $182.50/month
    Switch to sprint from AT&T: $165.50
  • Thank you Sprint..I have an old family plan so why would I switch. Im not regulated on the Data and I use my KODI app NONSTOP.. (by the way people dont pay for Kodi its free) with no issues of over data problems. Love ya Sprint..sitting back and waiting on the next Note! While watching stuff on my Kodi app. .lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah right. You're customers (me being one of them) are saying "Oh please! Give me back the long contract that I can get stuck in for 2 years!" NOT! I call BS on this one. What your customers are really saying is that they want you to subsidize the phone. Find a better way.
  • Subsidy = 2 years contract