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ByPhilip Palermo Lead Senior Editor - For the Home

Philip leads the For the Home section, guiding home security and smart home content. His writing and photos have been featured on Engadget and several local Washington newspapers.

Sprint Review

The fourth-largest cellular provider in the country, Sprint offers some of the most generous cell phone plans available. While it’s not quite as fast or widely available as AT&T or Verizon Wireless, it’s a strong competitor for anyone doing a lot of streaming on the go. Speeds are reduced after 50 GB of data usage for its unlimited plans, but that’s a lot more than some competitors’ 22 GB caps, so if you think you’ll be pushing against that 22 GB data cap, consider Sprint instead.

The Claim

Sprint says that its download speeds are “faster than ever.”

Is it true?

Yes. With average 4G LTE download speeds of 4 to 35 Mbps, it is a little slower than competitors, but it’s an improvement for Sprint. According to RootMetrics, an independent network testing firm, Sprint ranks fourth for overall performance after Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Ranking fourth among the top carriers is still impressive, especially since it isn’t as widely available as Verizon and AT&T. The major areas it lags behind in are network speed and data performance; however, Sprint’s speeds are still enough to stream video and browse the web.

Product Overview

Best for

Higher data caps

Not for

Faster speeds and strong performance

Features

Price per single line
$40-$80/mo.
Available plans 2 GB Phone Plan
Unlimited Basic
Unlimited Plus
Unlimited Premium
Unlimited Military
Unlimited 55+
Data range 4 GB-Unlimited
Data caps for unlimited plans Speeds slow at 50 GB
Number of states served 48
RootMetrics overall performance score 85.7
Standout features
Free Hulu subscription with Unlimited Plus
Free Tidal subscription with Unlimited Plus
$5 AutoPay discount
500 MB-100 GB mobile hotspots on unlimited plans
Lookout identity and data protection service
Early termination fee Up to $350 for smartphones and up to $200 for other devices (per line). Prorated by months remaining in contract.

Free Hulu and TIDAL subscriptions with Unlimited plans

If you’re a big TV fan, you’ll like that Sprint’s Unlimited Basic and Unlimited Plus plans come with a Hulu subscription. This gives you access to Hulu’s huge collection of TV shows and its original programming. Plus, if you go with Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan, you’ll also get a TIDAL music streaming subscription. Already subscribing to one or both services? Either of Sprint’s unlimited plans would be a good pick — you can save some money and have one (or two) fewer bills to worry about.

50 GB data cap for unlimited plans

No unlimited plan is truly “unlimited.” This is true across all cell phone carriers. Even if carriers don’t charge overage fees on unlimited plans, they will slow service when you reach a certain amount of data. Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless start throttling data for their unlimited plans at 22 GB (Note: Verizon’s Above Unlimited Plan doesn’t start throttling data until you exceed 75 GB). Sprint doesn’t begin deprioritizing data until you reach 50 GB. This is pretty generous compared to its top competitors. With Sprint, you can enjoy a bit more wiggle room on your data usage throughout the month.

Data and identity protection for premium unlimited plan

In a world where not even your coffee machine is safe from getting hacked, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your mobile devices. Enter Sprint’s Lookout service, which helps to prevent identity and device theft with a range of features, including secure downloads, breach reports, and even identity restoration and insurance coverage up to $1 million. Furthermore, if you opt into the Unlimited Premium plan, you get access to Lookout Premium Plus — the service's highest tier, which includes additional safeguards like Social Security number monitoring, lost wallet restoration, and internet surveillance.

Possible drawbacks

Reliability and coverage not as strong as competitors

RootMetrics puts Sprint in fourth place for overall performance with a rating of 85.7. Comparatively, Verizon’s in first place with a rating of 94.4, AT&T is in second place with a rating of 92.6, and T-Mobile just squeaks by in third with a rating of 86.9. Sprint's low score is largely due to its not-so-great Network Speed and Data Performance Ratings (81.3 and 86.0, respectively). These ratings put Sprint in fourth place for these categories, behind T-Mobile. Sprint's average 4G LTE download speeds are anywhere from 4 to 35 Mbps, which aren’t that bad. But if speed and data performance are deal breakers, then you might want to consider a faster carrier.

The Competition

Sprint
Verizon Wireless
AT&T
T-Mobile
Our review
Our review
Our review

Price per single line
$40-$80/mo.

$35-$95/mo.


$50-$190/mo.

$55-$160/mo.

Available plans

2 GB Phone Plan
Unlimited Basic
Unlimited Plus
Unlimited Premium
Unlimited Military
Unlimited 55+
500 MB
2 GB
4 GB
5 GB
8 GB
Go Unlimited
Beyond Unlimited
Above Unlimited
Mobile Share Plus 3 GB
Mobile Share Plus 9 GB
Unlimited & More
Unlimited & More Premium

T-Mobile ONE Voice
T-Mobile ONE Military
T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+
T-Mobile ONE Essentials
T-Mobile ONE Prepaid
T-Mobile ONE No Credit Check
T-Mobile ONE
T-Mobile ONE Plus
T-Mobile ONE Plus International
Unlimited Talk & Text
Tourist Plan
Data range
2 GB-Unlimited

2 GB-Unlimited

3 GB-Unlimited

Unlimited
Data caps
50 GB on unlimited plans
22 GB on Beyond Unlimited
75 GB on Above Unlimited

22 GB on unlimited plans

50 GB on unlimited plans

Streaming/
entertainment service included

Hulu subscription (with both unlimited plans)
TIDAL subscription (with Unlimited Plus)
N/A
AT&T WatchTV (with both unlimited plans)
Choice of additional subscription service (with Unlimited & More Premium)

Netflix subscription (with at least two lines on T-Mobile One)

Unlimited talk and text

RootMetrics overall performance score
85.7
94.4
92.6
86.9

Sprint vs. Verizon Wireless

When it comes to performance, Verizon Wireless is the best carrier around. It’s strong across the board, earning top ratings in each of RootMetrics’ categories. It also offers an extensive variety of data and unlimited plans, giving you plenty of options depending on your needs. However, Verizon’s plans can be more expensive than Sprint’s, and it has a much lower data cap (22 GB) for its Beyond Unlimited Plan. Verizon also doesn’t include subscriptions like Hulu or TIDAL with any of its plans. For those who want stellar performance, Verizon is the way to go. But if you’re also interested in entertainment perks, it might be worth considering Sprint.

Sprint vs. AT&T

If Sprint’s included Hulu subscription is a big draw, consider AT&T’s subscription deals as well: Its Unlimited & More plans include WatchTV (AT&T’s app that comes with 35-plus channels of live TV and over 15,000 on-demand movies and shows). AT&T’s Unlimited & More Premium plan also lets you choose one of seven additional streaming services (like HBO GO, Amazon Music, or Starz) at no extra charge. If you’re looking to consolidate your phone and cable bills, AT&T has more to offer than Sprint, though it’ll come at a higher monthly cost.

Sprint vs. T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s overall performance is ranked higher than Sprint, but only by a hair (RootMetrics rates Sprint at 85.7 and T-Mobile at 86.9). In addition, T-Mobile has the same data cap as Sprint, with both slowing speeds when you reach 50 GB. Because both carriers are pretty similar, it really boils down to what additional features you want. T-Mobile's standard T-Mobile ONE plan includes a Netflix subscription and in-flight texting, plus additional perks like HD streaming and unlimited in-flight WiFi if you upgrade to ONE Plus or ONE Plus International. What's more, all taxes and fees are rolled into the prices you see online. Consider which features you’ll need the most, plus which one has the strongest network coverage in your area, before deciding between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Sprint FAQ

Does Sprint require a credit check for unlimited plans?

Yes. Sprint requires a credit check for both its Unlimited Basic and Unlimited Plus plans. Credit checks are normal across all carriers and are often used to determine if you have to put money down for financed devices.

Does Sprint have discounts for veterans and U.S. Armed Forces members?

Yes. Sprint offers an Unlimited Military Plan, which provides two or more phone lines at 50% the cost of its Unlimited Basic plan for all veterans and active duty and Reserve members. In addition to a discount, Sprint donates $10 to Fisher House Foundation for new customers who belong to the U.S. Armed Forces. For more information on this plan, check here.

What is Sprint Global Roaming?

If you travel internationally, you’ll want affordable data and device access. Sprint Global Roaming gives you “low-speed data” in more than 200 destinations for free and lets you make calls for 25 cents per minute. This is helpful for those who travel regularly and need to remain connected at all times.

What happened to Sprint Forward?

Sprint Forward was discontinued as of January 10, 2019. Occasionally, companies will evaluate their offerings and make decisions as to which ones to keep and which to table. According to the official FAQ, Sprint Forward was discontinued in favor of a yet unspecified alternative better suited to the customer. Originally, Sprint Forward was a prepaid plan most notable for not requiring a credit check. This made the plan an ideal alternative for customers who wanted a decent data allowance with unlimited talk and text at a cheaper price.

The Bottom Line

Though its performance might not be as good as that of Verizon or AT&T, Sprint is still dependable and includes enough added features to make it a good choice. Whether you’re looking for unlimited plans with generous data caps or easy access to streaming services, you should definitely take a look at Sprint. Sprint’s unlimited plans give you access to all of this plus mobile hotspots and, depending on your plan, features like the premium tier Lookout service for safe browsing.

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