Sprint and T-Mobile Wrestle over iPhone Leasing Deals

by Matt Klassen on September 25, 2015

Earlier this week T-Mobile made an aggressive push to lure in iPhone fans in the wake of Apple’s most recent product upgrade event. The nation’s third-largest wireless carrier announced on Wednesday that with its Jump On Demand upgrade leasing program, customers can now get their hands on a new iPhone 6S or an iPhone 6S Plus for $5 or $9 a month respectively.

This deal marked the lowest monthly rate for an iPhone in an increasingly dog-eat-dog mobile market for exactly one day, when Sprint weighed in with its own offer, promising customers who traded in their existing iPhone 6 devices an upgrade to a new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus for $1 or $5 a month respectively. Sprint’s promotional offer comes as part of its “iPhone Forever” program, which, like Apple’s own offer, allows users to get a new iPhone as soon as it hits store shelves.

Of course as I wrote earlier this week, the downside of these regular upgrade programs is that customers are ostensibly renting their phones, always paying monthly fees but coming no closer to actually owning the product. While interested customers do get their hands on the latest and greatest, it stands as yet another marketing ploy that traps people in our cash strapped, credit heavy economy into yet one more perpetual payment.

“Once again, it is clear that the best place to get the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is Sprint,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. “New and existing customers who trade in their current iPhone 6 can now get a device for only $1/month, making it the best way to get the iPhone — and a yearly upgrade is included in this charge.”

You have to know that T-Mobile CEO John Legere won’t take kindly to his company’s aggressive promotional campaign being so quickly and decisively undercut, but for its part, his company has promised that the $5 deal will remain in place as long as the customer stays with the company.

It should be noted that both promotions come with a laundry list of caveats and provisos, chief among them that in both cases customers are required to trade in their iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus to lock in the best deal. Trade in an iPhone 5 at either Sprint or T-Mobile, for instance, and the price jumps to $10/month, up to $22 with Sprint (lower right now with a new subscriber promotion) or $20 with T-Mobile if you don’t have any device to trade.

I should also mention, along with the downside of paying forever for phones you’ll never own, that the deals from both companies are for the 16GB version of the iPhone 6S, which in the grand scheme of things may not be enough to storage to handle the average digital lifestyle these days, as videos and photos will quickly fill it up.

In the end, while it may look great to see T-Mobile offering the iPhone 6S for $5/month, and then even greater to see Sprint swoop in with its own $1 offer, these deals mask a great financial reality, namely that you’re ostensibly leasing your phone from the company, meaning you never come any closer to owning the device, and you’ll be regularly having to port your entire digital life from one device to another. I suppose if want you want is the latest and greatest tech then maybe it doesn’t matter, but in my mind perpetually chaining myself to a company for $5 or even $1 a month (in addition to service agreements mind you) is still a high price to pay for a device I’m essentially borrowing.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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