Sprint's (*Est. $30 per month) cell phone services are consistently ranked behind those of Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular by experts and users. However, Sprint sets itself apart from its competitors by offering unlimited night minutes after 7 p.m. rather than 9 p.m., and unlimited 4G data usage.
Wide selection, but
mixed reviews. Reviews are mixed for Sprint's plans and fees;
reviewers at TopTenReviews.com praise the wide selection of monthly plan
options, while reviewers at PCMag.com give the carrier low scores for its fees.
With most plans, Sprint offers free unlimited evening and weekend minutes
starting at 7 p.m., two hours earlier than other providers. Sprint's basic plan
costs $30 per month for 200 minutes, and includes roaming and domestic
long-distance calls. Sprint also has a Simply Everything flat-rate plan for smartphones (*Est. $110 a month) that includes unlimited voice, messaging, data and direct connect. Sprint also gathers praise for its 4G LTE service, offering unlimited plans that, unlike Verizon Wireless's plans, have no data usage caps.
Mixed call quality. Sprint's network performance does not earn high marks from reviewers or from users. Sprint receives a below-average rating for overall network quality in J.D. Power and Associates' extensive customer survey, and a below-average rating for coverage and reliability in its home area in a review at PCMag.com. Customers agree, saying that call quality ranges from good to poor, depending on region.
Sprint's 4G LTE network also doesn't hold up to that of its competitors. Testers at Laptop Magazine, PC World and Computerworld report that Sprint's 4G speeds finish behind those of Verizon's 4G LTE network, sometimes dramatically.
Mixed reviews for customer service. Users' experiences with Sprint's customer service run the gamut from excellent to poor. Sprint ties with T-Mobile for first place in J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 survey evaluating customer service and customers' purchase experiences, its third year at the top. PCMag.com rates Sprint's customer service as slightly below average, while TopTenReviews.com gives the carrier a low score for customer service. However, Laptop Magazine does praise Sprint for accurately advertising its speeds.
Full range includes the iPhone 5. Reviewers note that Sprint offers a full range of cell phones, from basic phones to the BlackBerry and the latest smartphones, including the iPhone 5. Sprint also offers a number of 4G phones.
1. J.D. Power & Associates
Review Credibility: Excellent In this nationwide survey of about 26,000 customers, J.D. Power and Associates polls cell phone users about service, support and call quality. Sprint ties for first place (with T-Mobile) for customer service and purchase experience, though it receives a below-average rating for overall network quality.
Review: 2012 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 29, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent ConsumerReports.org polls more than 66,000 of its subscribers, asking them to rate their cell service for value, voice/text/data service and customer support. Each carrier, including Sprint, gets an overall score and a separate rating in each of 26 major cities.
Review: Overall Cell Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2012
3. J.D. Power & Associates
Review Credibility: Very Good For the third year running, the over 26,000 cell phone users polled in this J.D. Power and Associates survey place Sprint in first place for purchase experience. The users particularly like Sprint's offerings and promotions.
Review: Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, 2012 Wireless Purchase Experience Survey, Aug, 9, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Out of the five mobile phone carriers featured in this survey of wireless phone service users,
Sprint comes in at fourth place, just behind T-Mobile. Its call quality in the home area receives its highest score, with a low score for its fees.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2011: Mobile Phones and Carriers, Ben Gottesman, May 23, 2011
5. PC World
Review Credibility: Very Good Sprint's 3G network proves very reliable in this test, but it posts the slowest average download speeds. PC World runs more than 51,000 tests on the Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T networks in 13 cities nationwide.
Review: AT&T Roars Back in PCWorld's Second 3G Wireless Performance Test, Mark Sullivan, Feb. 22, 2010
Review Credibility: Good TopTenReviews.com provides a side-by-side comparison of national and regional cell phone providers that details features but does not evaluate call quality. Sprint wins the Bronze award. Editors praise the company for its monthly plan options, which include unlimited evenings starting at 7 p.m. -- two hours earlier than most carriers.
Review: 2013 Best Cell Phone Provider Comparisons and Reviews, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, As of December 2012
7. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Good Sprint's 4G speeds finish just behind Verizon's in tests here, earning a grade of B. Sprint also earns points for accurately advertising its speeds and offering unlimited 4G plans with no usage caps.
Review: 4G Report Card: Who's Winning, Who's Failing, Mark Spoonauer, March 18, 2011
Review Credibility: Good Sprint 4G costs less, but Verizon Wireless 4G proves dramatically faster in this New York City-area test. Brian Nadel doesn't test other companies' 4G offerings, which he says are really just enhanced 3G.
Review: 4G Shootout: Verizon LTE vs. Sprint WiMax, Brian Nadel, Feb. 3, 2011
9. PC World
Review Credibility: Good PC World's Jared Newman says Sprint 4G is indeed slower than Verizon 4G -- but, unlike Verizon, Sprint offers unlimited 4G plans with no data caps.
Review: Verizon LTE vs. The Rest: 4G Smackdown, Jared Newman, Dec. 2, 2010
Review Credibility: Good Sprint, the only wireless service company on the list, earns a spot on MSN.com's customer service hall of shame for the fourth straight year. About one-third of respondents rate Sprint's customer service as poor.
Review: 10 Companies We Love to Hate, Karen Aho, May 18, 2010
Review Credibility: Good In this older review, Sprint lags behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless in a 12-city 3G speed test -- although Sprint does win in Tampa, Florida. Testers note that they didn't try out Sprint's faster 4G network, even though it was available for laptop users in some cities at the time of the test.
Review: Our 2009 12-City 3G Data Mega Test: AT&T Won, Wilson Rothman, Dec. 21, 2009