Sprint counters T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, with own early upgrade program

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America's third-largest wireless carrier may be late to the party, but Sprint will reportedly launch its own early phone upgrade program just in time for the arrival of Apple's iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

image via Cnet

Sprint One Up is said to be the name of Sprint's new early upgrade option, according to Cnet. One Up, according to sources familiar with Sprint's plans, will launch on Friday, September 20, the same day that Apple will launch both the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c.

Sprint One Up will allow customers to get a new phone for no money down. Customers pay down the cost of the phone over the course of two years in monthly installments. Under this scheme, a $650 device would be paid off in $27 per month payments, with any remaining balance paid in the final installment.

Should a customer terminate their contract before the two years are up, the customer is responsible for paying the remaining balance of the device's price. That fee would be due the following month.

The early upgrade aspect kicks in after one year of service. Customers can then trade in the phone they bought the year previous for a new device, whereupon the aforementioned repayment plan and obligations are renewed.

Reportedly, when the program kicks off on September 20, those customers who have already been on contract for at least a year will be eligible to participate. They will, though, be required to trade in their existing phones unless they are eligible for a discounted upgrade. The program is not open to Sprint prepaid customers.

One Up will compete against Verizon's Edge, T-Mobile's Jump, and AT&T's Next early upgrade programs. Sprint is the last of the major United States carriers to implement such a program. Its announcement marks the fulfillment of a trend that was started by T-Mobile earlier this year.

That carrier, continually losing subscribers over the past few years, announced Jump, which allows two smartphone upgrades per year for a $10 per month fee. Soon after, both AT&T and Verizon announced their own competing smartphone upgrade plans.

Observers have previously noted that T-Mobile's plan appears to be the best deal between that carrier, AT&T, and Verizon, due to the fact that T-Mobile offers a discount on the wireless plan as well. Sprint One Up also offers a discount on the wireless plan, meaning it is closer to T-Mobile's offering than it is either of the other two competitors.