Blog Post

iPhone users resist the lure of Sprint’s unlimited plans

Sprint’s(s s) unlimited data plans don’t seem to be as big a draw as it had hoped when it comes to selling the iPhone(s aapl). Sprint sold 1.5 million iPhone 4 and 4S handsets in the first quarter, compared to the 3.2 million Verizon(s vz)(s vod) and 4.3 million AT&T(s t) activated in the same period.

Given Sprint’s size – with 56 million total connections it’s about half the size of either Verizon or AT&T – 1.5 million iPhones certainly isn’t a bad haul, but it certainly doesn’t indicate customers are flocking to the carrier lured by cheap data. Part of the problem is that the pickings were already slim when Sprint first started selling the device in October. AT&T and Verizon had already locked a good deal of customers into contracts, and AT&T in particular has been aggressively upgrading its older iPhone customers to the new 4S and to new 2-year contracts.

Though the iPhone may not be a runaway success for Sprint, it’s managed to use the device both to keep its current subscribers happy as well as bring in new customers. Sprint said 44 percent of its first quarter activations were new accounts, so it’s not merely recycling its old customer base, swapping out Android(s goog) phones for iPhones. And even if AT&T and Verizon are far outpacing it in iPhone activations, Sprint is quickly becoming a significant part of Apple’s smartphone empire, accounting for 4 percent of Apple’s global 35.1 million global iPhone sales last quarter.

The iPhone also contributed to Sprint’s more than 1 million net subscriber additions. Most of those customers came from its wholesale business – connections it sells to mobile virtual network operators and Sprint’s regional affiliates – and its numerous prepaid brands, but Sprint managed to grow its core CDMA contract subscriber base by 263,000, which offset a loss 455,000 Nextel iDEN customers.

6 Responses to “iPhone users resist the lure of Sprint’s unlimited plans”

  1. So glad I just switched from AT&T to sprint,unlimited data is awesome now only if I could actually use anything,can’t use any of my apps unless I’m on wifi,if u have at&t&haven’t switched to sprint iPhone don’t you will regret it

  2. Carolina Ruiz

    Sprint iPhone 4s connection sucks..I can’t even see you tube videos and or use gps cause it uses Internet sprint android phone was so much faster and so much better..I do love that it almost never drops calls..which is a problem I had with my sprint android

  3. Jeff Meyer

    Yes, the “3G” service on Sprint feels more like AT&T Edge to me – but I love not having to worry about blowing past my internet quota that the other US mobile OverLords impose.

    So far, my Sprint signal has been strong in my travels and it _appears_ that even with 1 – 2 bars, I don’t get disconnected calls. I am remain a happy* Sprint customer.

    * : As happy as anyone can be with the bloated, monolithic US carrier companies that do not know even how to define true customer care and support.

    *My iPhone 4s proved itself as a world phone this week. It was bought in December, provisioned for Sprint in the US. I needed to fly to Mexico for 2 weeks, so 3 weeks ago, I contacted Sprint and told them I needed to unlock my iPhone for international service. They complied after only a few minutes of trying to get me to just use Sprint roaming services available (CDMA radios) in Cancun. The unlocking only required me to connect to iTunes via my laptop once. I arrived in Mexico, went to 1 of 4 Telcel “mothership” store fronts, presented my passport, waited in (long, slow moving) line and 2 hours later, I had a locally usable iPhone 4S with a Telcel SIM installed -GSM access- with a working Cancun phone number plus a pre-paid [max 1.5 GB or 15 day] data plan that allowed me to surf the net (Google Maps access saved my butt more than once.) And all for an affordable rate.

    Conclusion: Sprint sucks less than other carriers for some things. I have no desire to have to learn the “language”/secret handshakes of getting support from AT&T, TMobile or Verizon.

  4. I’d sooner do without a cellphone if AT&T and Verizon were the only carriers. I’m quite satisfied with Sprint, and have been a (traveling) client since 1996.