In the battle to offer more competitive smartphone plans, Sprint has just unveiled two that hopes it will have it running ahead of the pack.
The new plans, which go into effect on Friday, are “Unlimited Plus,” priced at $70 per month for one line, $120 for two lines and $180 for four lines; and “Unlimited Basic,” which costs $60 per month for one line, $100 for two and $140 for four lines.
The new offerings are cheaper than the latest options from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, depending on the level of service. Those plans run between $70 and $75 per month for one line of the cheapest unlimited option and between $190 to $240 per month for four lines of the priciest data plans at each carrier.
Sprint, the nation’s fourth-largest carrier, said Thursday that the new plans will replace its current “Unlimited Freedom” offering. Both new plans, however, will keep perks such as access to Hulu and free text and data in over 185 destinations around the world.
Those who pony up for “Unlimited Plus” will also get a premium subscription to the Tidal music service for each Sprint line they have (regularly $9.99 per month), more high-speed mobile hotspot data (15GB of 4G LTE data on Plus instead of 500MB on Basic), more high-speed data in Canada and Mexico (10GB of 4G LTE data instead of 5GB) and full HD video streaming over the carrier’s 4G LTE network.
For existing Sprint customers, however, the new plan doesn’t represent too much of an upgrade over the current “Unlimited Freedom” plan that they are replacing, though those who don’t care about HD streaming or mobile hotspot data will be able to save a little bit per month.
Under the “Unlimited Freedom” plan, users paid $60 for one line, $100 for two or $160 for four lines. They got Hulu access with full HD video streaming over Sprint’s network, 10GB of mobile hotspot data, a six-month trial of Tidal and 5GB of high-speed data in Canada and Mexico.
Sprint users happy with their current plans will not need to change them.
“The industry evolves,” says Dow Draper, Sprint’s chief commercial officer. “We did quite a bit of consumer research to figure out how we can make plans more meaningful to customers,” noting how not everyone wants the add-ons like Tidal or HD streaming or needs a large amount of mobile hotspot data.
“We see it as a bit of a platform that we call ‘unlimited for all,'” says Draper. “There’s unlimited for people who maybe don’t need all these features and unlimited for people who want a lot more features.”
Both new and existing customers can switch to these plans, with Sprint offering a limited-time promotion for “switchers” of an additional $20 off per line to new customers who sign up for “Unlimited Plus” and bring their own phone with them when they switch or purchase a new device from Sprint at full price.
While not as aggressive as Sprint’s recent $15 per month switcher offer that the company offered for one week in June, the promotion does bring the price of the “Plus” plan down to $50 per month for one line, $80 for two lines or $100 for four lines for those who switch over from a rival network.
In addition to the new “Plus” and “Basic” plans, Sprint is adding a new discount for military members and their families.
Called “Unlimited Military” Sprint is offering members of the military and their families a discount on service. It has the same $60 a month price for a single line as “Unlimited Basic” but drops the price of two lines to $80 a month and four lines to $100 a month.
The military plan is similar to one that rival — and potential partner — T-Mobile has been touting heavily in recent television ads. Draper, however, says the company was working on introducing a plan like this independently from the companies pending $26 billion merger.
Sprint’s offer is available to active duty, reserve and veterans of all branches of the military. Though this offer does not include members of law enforcement, Draper says the company is “working on something” for them.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal