Will Sprint customers pay extra to use an iPhone?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: June 9, 2011

The rumor mill has been pushed along at a nice clip recently, fueled by this belief that the iPhone is coming to Sprint’s network sooner rather than later. There hasn’t been anything revealed on the official side of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPhone isn’t coming to Sprint. We all know by now that when it comes to Apple, we won’t hear anything official until the “need-to-know basis” expands to the general public. However, this recent rumor adds a bit of flare to the mix, and suggests that if a Sprint subscriber does indeed want to get their hand on the iPhone when (and if) it comes, they’ll actually have to pay more on a monthly basis than every other subscriber without an iPhone.

If you don’t have an iPhone right now, but you find yourself on the AT&T network or Verizon’s subscriber list, you should know that these folks don’t pay extra to have their iPhone in their pocket, connected to their network of choice. The main difference? For those on Big Red’s network, they actually get to use an unlimited data plan (for now), while those on AT&T’s network only have a certain amount of bandwidth they can gobble up on a monthly basis. However, they aren’t paying extra just to be able to use the iPhone on a daily basis.

As of right now, Sprint’s unlimited plans start at $69.99, which includes 450 Anytime minutes – just in case you’re calling people’s landlines, and it isn’t when your free nighttime minutes start. However, if you’ve got yourself a smartphone on Sprint’s network, then you’re actually paying an extra $10 already to be able to use that smartphone. Sprint calls it the Premium Data feature, and as they put it, it is a required “add-on for phones made to deliver a superior wireless experience including Web, email, video and social networking.” The charge isn’t a huge one, though, so the majority of folks don’t seem to mind it.

The troubling part of the new rumor is that it suggests Sprint customers will have to pay, right off the bat, $89.99 to use the iPhone. It doesn’t say anything about that Premium Data add-on, but I think it’s probably safe to say that Sprint’s still going to charge that extra $10 to make sure they keep providing top-notch service. (If you have or have used Sprint, then you can weigh whether or not that last sentence is sarcasm or not, based on your own service history.)

I can actually say that I don’t think the iPhone is a status symbol anymore. Even beyond the fact that there are other high-end devices that look just as attractive, if not more so in some accounts, than the iPhone, the market just isn’t the same as it used to be. The iPhone’s iconic presence is now met with hostility, and people don’t mind having another phone in their pocket. Sure, some folks out there still want an iPhone and nothing more, but it would seem that crowd is starting to thin out.

So if these rumors are true, how on Earth can Sprint justify charging more for their customers to use the device? That $69.99 unlimited plan isn’t much of a bargain anymore if I’m already paying $89.99 right out of the gate. What’s more, is that I can maybe see the extra charge coming from 4G-connectivity, but with the rumor suggesting that this version of the iPhone, perhaps the iPhone 4S, won’t be 4G capable, then that extra charge really doesn’t make any sense.

But I guess the big question is: will Sprint customers pay more than every other Sprint customer out there just to be able to use the iPhone on the Now Network? Let me know in the comments what you think.

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