Sprint is reportedly preparing its own early upgrade program for smartphones, with the goal of saving money over similar plans from T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless.
Sprint's plan is called One Up, and it will let users trade up to a new smartphone every year, CNET reports. Instead of paying a subsidized rate for the phone up-front, subscribers pay the full price of the phone, divided into 24 monthly installments.
For example, a phone that typically costs $650 at full price would cost $27 per month with no money down. After a year, users could trade that phone back to Sprint, having effectively paid $324 over 12 months. Users would then start paying monthly installments on the new phone.
But here's the real hook: If CNET's report is accurate, Sprint customers who enroll in One Up will get a $15 discount on wireless service. Sprint's unlimited voice, text and data plan would then cost $65 per month, instead of $80 per month.
According the alleged Sprint comparison chart, the total one-year cost with One Up would be $1192 for a typical phone, compared to $1420 for T-Mobile's Leap program with unlimited data. AT&T and Verizon don't offer unlimited data, but with 4 GB, the yearly cost is $1696 for AT&T's Next program and $1731 for Verizon Edge.
Neither AT&T nor Verizon offer a discount on the cost of service for their early upgrade programs. Although T-Mobile doesn't offer a discount on wireless service for its Jump program, the cost of service is relatively cheap to begin with. Still, T-Mobile Jump ends up being pricier than Sprint's One Up because of a higher monthly charge and a required down payment on most high-end phones.
Keep in mind that Sprint hasn't officially announced One Up yet, but CNET says the program will launch on September 20, just in time for the iPhone 5s. It almost sounds too good to be true, as it would allow Sprint customers to get new phones once per year for about the same cost as a typical subsidized handset. One Up could be a breath of fresh air if it actually works out in customers' favor.