Updated on October 31, 2018
Sprint's Free Unlimited for 1 Year (Bring Your Own Device)
Want free “Unlimited” cell phone service for a year? If you own your own eligible device (BYOD) and are willing to switch from another carrier, this Sprint Free Unlimited offer might be for you. Offer expires
Sprint is offering a free year of unlimited data, talk, and text for 1 year when you bring your own device. They've offered it in the past but I'm taking a closer look now because we have several accounts which will longer be under contract soon. It seems like a good time to see if we can save some money by switching some accounts from Verizon. In the past, the free year was for essentially what is now called “Unlimited Plus” but now it is for “Unlimited Basic” which I explain below.
Sprint Free Unlimited Offer
This is only for people who own their phone – that means you're not under any kind of contract or payment plan for your phone. You can move your eligible phone over to Sprint and get a free year of “Unlimited Basic” service which includes 480p video streaming, gaming up to 2Mbps, 500mb hotspot, Hulu, and Mexico and Canada roaming (unlimited talk text and 5gb data). This is normally $60/month x 12 = $720 value. Keep in mind there are 2 “Unlimited” services, which is a bit confusing because, well, unlimited is not really unlimited then right? Sort of. What's the difference?
The regular price (outside of this offer) for Unlimited Plus is $10 more than Unlimited Basic and mainly gives you faster speeds and more hotspot data (15 gigs versus 500 megs). If you use hotspot a lot, that's a big difference. Do you want to stream HD quality videos? “Basic” only lets you stream 480p DVD quality, not full HD (unless of course you're connected to Wifi then it doesn't matter). Offer is valid until 9/13/18 (which looks like right around when the new iPhone will be released).
How to Sign Up
- Click the link (Expires TBD)
- Check if your phone is eligible. If yes, you must switch from another carrier.
- Order your SIM card ($2.99+$10 shipping+tax).
- Activate your phone
What happens after 1 year?
After you've had a full year to try out the service, instead of free, you pay:
- Line 1: $60/month
- Line 2: $40/month
- Lines 3-5: $20/mo/line
Is it really free? Any fees?
The terms show that a $2.50 admin fee and a $0.40 regulatory fee and “other taxes and fees” apply. The $30 activation fee is waived and the credit for this shows up within 2 bills. Based on this I expect to see a bill for the activation fee on the first month and the admin and regulatory fee on every bill. You also need to keep your account on Autopay otherwise you'll pay $5/month per line which I think is reasonable. They're giving you free service, the least you can do is do autopay to cover the above mentioned fees.
You'll need to buy a SIM Card for $2.99 + $10 shipping + taxes. It should arrive overnight according to the terms but 2 day shipping according to a chat rep I spoke with.
So, I'm expecting a couple dollars per month for “free unlimited basic” service plus maybe some “other taxes and fees”. A few people have commented that this is really how it works.
Here's my bill. First month was $37.77 including an activation fee (which is sometimes waived, but not when I signed up). Second month is $4.00 for Sprint surcharges and government taxes and fees.
Who is this definitely NOT for?
If you need a lot of hotspot usage, high speed gaming, or need to watch lots of full HD 1080p videos when you're not at home, then this is probably not for you. If it is business critical for you to be connected all the time like me, this is not for you. If your life revolves around your phone, this is not for you.
Data Prioritization (or deprioritization)?
Sprint's small print says “Data deprioritization during congestion” so your data may slow down during busy time. This is to be expected with unlimited plans. Verizon Wireless does it too on their cheapest Unlimited plan “goUnlimited”: During times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (only after 22GB/mo on Beyond Unlimited or 75 GB/mo on Above Unlimited).
Below is a summary of the thresholds at which point your data can be slowed down during network congestion (i.e. deprioritization).
|Sprint Threshold||Verizon Threshold|
|Unlimited Basic 50 gb||Go Unlimited 0 gb|
|Unlimited Plus 50 gb||Beyond Unlimited 22 gb|
|Above Unlimited 75gb|
I still pay for a specific amount of data on my Verizon account and not sure if I will move to Unlimited. Because of the additional lines we have, moving over them to Unlimited was more expensive (and not helpful for me as we have enough data). There was some scolding and re-scolding due to constant video streaming while not on Wifi (and background Facebook data draining) but it has mostly improved.
Which phones are eligible?
Most iPhones are eligible with the newer iPhones having to be from Verizon. There are many other phones on the list. You can check if your phone is eligible here.
Is Sprint service good?
The Sprint Free Unlimited offer is probably good enough for a lot of people – but not heavy phone users (yes, thats all of us out there walking around glued to our phones). I used to have it for 7-8 years straight and only switched to Verizon because there were a couple important spots that didn't get service. That was a long time ago – maybe 10 years ago. I now have Verizon and ATT, and Verizon has the best coverage/service overall in my experience in the NYC area and, of course, it costs more. I'd put AT&T and Sprint as tied for 2nd place in terms of coverage.
Sprint is probably very good for a lot of people I know. This is especially true because they won't have to worry about going over the limits or getting yelled at for using up their entire family data plan. Watch all the facebook video's you want!
And… if you don't like it, just cancel your free service and switch back to whatever service you like better.