Sprint's unlimited data plan and One Up phone-upgrade plan draw enthusiastic reviews, as does its extensive selection of phones. However, the network's performance is just average, although it does provide extensive 4G LTE coverage. Customer service receives mixed reviews.
Unlimited data, guaranteed. Like Verizon, Sprint makes data optional for basic phone users, allowing them to access unlimited talk and text at a cost of about $50 per month; an additional $10 per month will add unlimited data. Smartphone users can get unlimited talk, text and data for about $80 a month, $10 more than with T-Mobile, although Sprint's unlimited data is guaranteed to be available as long as you have a line activated with the company.
Sprint does not offer a shared data plan, but you can have up to 10 devices on your account and get a price break of between $10 and $30 per device depending on the number of lines you have. Sprint's One Up phone-upgrade plan cuts service costs by $15 (Est. $65 per month for unlimited talk, text and data) and requires no service contract; all other Sprint plans require a two-year commitment. You do pay full price for the phone in installments, but can upgrade your device after one year.
Average at best. Sprint's network performance does not earn high marks from reviewers or from users. It receives a below-average rating for overall network quality in J.D. Power and Associates' customer survey, and a below-average rating for coverage and reliability in a review at PCMag.com. TopTenReviews.com reports that even though Sprint is a true nationwide network, it has spotty coverage, even in big cities. Customers say call quality ranges from good to poor, depending on region.
Mixed reviews. User experiences with Sprint's customer support run the gamut from excellent to poor. Sprint receives average scores in J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 surveys evaluating customer service and customers' purchase experiences. PCMag.com rates Sprint's customer service as slightly below average, while TopTenReviews.com gives the carrier a low score. User reviewers give low marks for customer support, detailing encounters with service reps who provide incorrect information.
Full range of phones. Reviewers note that Sprint offers a full range of cell phones, from basic phones to the BlackBerry and all the latest smartphones for Apple, Android and Windows.
1. J.D. Power & Associates
In this nationwide survey of more than 27,000 customers, J.D. Power and Associates polls cell phone users about network quality, including messaging, calling and data. Sprint consistently ranks at the bottom, often in a tie, with 2 stars out of 5 in all six regions.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study – Vol. 1, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, March 7, 2013
2. J.D. Power & Associates
In this J.D. Power and Associates' Customer Care Survey of about 7,000 wireless phone users, Sprint comes in third place out of four with a below-average score.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study – Vol. 1, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013
3. J.D. Power & Associates
More than 8,500 cell phone users took part in J.D. Power and Associates' Customer Experience Survey in which Sprint received an average rating. AT&T took first place with a score of "excellent," although Verizon Wireless and Sprint weren't far behind.
Review: 2013 Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Study – Vol. 2, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Aug. 15, 2013
ConsumerReports.org reports on feedback from more than 58,000 of its subscribers who rate cell service for value, voice/text/data service and customer support. Sprint is rated nationally and in each of 23 major cities.
Review: Overall Cell Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
5. PC World
Although Sprint comes in third place in PCMag.com's 2013 Readers' Choice Awards for mobile carriers, it does so with a below-average score. Sprint's highest rating is for choice of phones, followed by minimized dropped calls. It gets low scores for fees and data network speed.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers`, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013
6. Laptop Magazine
Besides liking the name of Sprint's One Up phone-upgrade service, Cherlynn Low says it's giving the other phone-upgrade plans a run for their money. One Up "takes the trophy for offering the best value for your money," she says.
Review: Phone Upgrade Plans: Sprint vs. AT&T vs. Verizon vs. T-Mobile, Cherlynn Low, Sept. 20, 2013
7. Laptop Magazine
Laptop magazine's Cherlynn Low details the costs and two-year price for Sprint's Unlimited All-In and Unlimited My Way plans. She highlights that Sprint is the only carrier to have a true unlimited data plan, but T-Mobile has since added one.
Review: iPhone 5s: Which Carrier Has the Best Plans?, Cherlynn Low, Sept. 16, 2013
TopTenReviews.com provides a side-by-side comparison of national and regional cell phone providers that notes features but does not evaluate call quality. Sprint comes in fourth place for its unlimited data plans and One Up plan, which editors say is the cheapest phone-upgrade plan.
Review: Sprint, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated
After extensive testing, editors at TechHive.com conclude that Sprint's 3G CDMA network is not as fast as the HSPA service of either T-Mobile or AT&T.
Review: T-Mobile Wins 3G Shootout, Sprint and Verizon Speeds Fade, Leah Yamshon, Mark Sullivan, May 21, 2013
While Jeffrey Van Camp lauds Sprint's decision to guarantee its unlimited data plan forever for its subscribers, he points out some flaws in this "unlimited guarantee." These include an unlimited, no-contract data plan on T-Mobile for less money and no available LTE network on Sprint. He also notes that while unlimited data is guaranteed, the price for that service is not.
Review: 10 Reasons Why Sprint's New Unlimited Guarantee Isn't Quite the Deal They Think It Is, Jeffrey Van Camp, July 15, 2013
11. My Rate Plan
In this press release, the wireless industry analysts at MyRatePlan.com name Sprint's Simply Everything plan as the second-place choice in their list of the best wireless plans of 2013. It receives this award primarily for its truly unlimited data plan, although mobile hotspot usage is barred under the plan.
Review: Best Wireless Plans of 2013, According to MyRatePlan.com, Editors of MyRatePlan.com, April 18, 2013
The 425-plus contributors who post reviews for Sprint at Viewpoints.com together give the company a rating of 61 out of 100. Phone plan features scores the highest marks, but network coverage is in the red with a rating of 5.8 out of 10. Newer reviews here tend to offer better ratings than older ones.
Review: The Best Cell Phone Providers: Cell Phone Provider Reviews & Ratings, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2013