Welcome to a new weekly column where we break down each carrier to let you know the best devices and current promotions. We have already posted our Verizon Buyer’s Guide and T-Mobile Buyer’s Guide, and now it’s time for Sprint. Each week we will rotate between the big four US carriers, so that each buyer’s guide gets refreshed every month. Read on for Sprint’s best devices and deals.
Current Promotions and News
Sprint board rejects bid to buy MetroPCS: Details are still coming in, but it appears that Sprint was hours away from a deal to acquire MetroPCS. Apparently CEO Dan Hesse signed off on the deal, but then Sprint’s executive board rejected it. Either Hesse is on the way out or Sprint is going to make some major changes in the coming months. Head over to The Verge for more details.
New 4G LTE Markets: This month Sprint announced that 4G LTE was coming to Baltimore and Kansas City by mid-2012.
Best Android Phone: Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch
I said it back in October when I first reviewed the phone and the same thing still holds true; The Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch is easily the best Android phone on Sprint. For the third carrier in a row, Samsung takes home the top pick. See a pattern here?
Sprint still sells the Epic 4G Touch for $199 with 2-year contract, but Amazon has it on sale for only $49 for new customers, $119 for adding a line, or $149 for upgrades.
There is a reason Samsung has already sold 20 million of their Galaxy S II series. The Super AMOLED Plus display is unmatched among Android phones and the dual-core 1.2 GHz Exynos processor is still one of the fastest around.
Samsung has already said the Galaxy S II will receive Android 4.0 in the coming months, so this device will continue to improve with new software updates.
I’ve already recommended this device to several close friends and they have all been very pleased with their purchase. If you want to know more about the device, just check out our full review.
Best Android Phone with Keyboard: None
Sprint currently lists nine Android phones on their website with physical keyboards, but I can’t in good faith recommend any of them. Their only high-end phone with a keyboard is the Samsung Epic 4G, which came out almost two years ago. That device will never seen another Android update and you want to avoid it.
We only like to suggest smartphones with the latest versions of Android, or those that we believe will be updated soon. I’d suggest giving the Epic 4G Touch a try to see if you like it or just wait till Sprint announces their new spring lineup.
Let me repeat what I said in our previous buyer’s guide. Because of the current data plans, I’m not a huge fan of carrier branded Android tablets. However, if you need an Android tablet with wireless connectivity, then the ZTE Optik should be your pick.
Sprint currently sells the Optik for $99 with 2-year agreement, so you won’t break the bank on this purchase. A monthly data plan is required, but Sprint has some affordable options. Sprint offers four plans designed specifically for tablets, starting at $19.99 for 1GB of data, $34.99 for 3GB of data, $49.99 for 6GB of data, and $79.99 for 12GB of data.
Highlights of the ZTE Optik include 3G data connection, Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS, 7-inch touchscreen display with WXGA 1280×800 resolution, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, dual cameras, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, expandable memory slot, and 4000 mAh Lithium-ion battery.
We don’t know if this device will receive Android 4.0 yet, but it was just released in February. Hopefully Sprint supports it with at least one major software upgrade.
When I was reviewing the list of Sprint’s budget devices, one clear winner emerged and it was the HTC EVO Design 4G. The reason we are recommending this device is simple; HTC has said it will receive Android 4.0 sometime in early 2012.
The EVO Design 4G is also affordable as Sprint sells it for $99 with 2-year contract. Once again Amazon has cheaper prices selling it for only $0.01 to new customers or add a line, and $49 for upgrades.
Highlights of the EVO Design 4G include a 4-inch qHD display, 1.2 GHz single-core processor, 5 megapixel camera on the back, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera (capable of HD video chat with Qik) and support for GSM global roaming.
Check out Nick’s hands-on with the EVO Design 4G for more details.
If you don’t mind waiting a couple months, I would suggest holding out for Sprint’s first LTE phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. This was our top pick on Verizon and it will instantly become the top pick on Sprint when it becomes available.
Sprint will launch their LTE network in the first half of 2012, so we should get a release date for this phone in the coming months. Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio are expected to be among the first markets to benefit from Sprint’s 4G LTE and improved 3G coverage.
The LG Viper 4G LTE was also announced as coming soon, but we see no reason to suggest this device when compared to the Galaxy Nexus.
We have long wanted to maintain buyer’s guides for every carrier, but it’s just something we have failed to produce. As one of the most influential sources of Android information on the web, we realize that our opinions are valuable and the average consumer just wants to know what phone they should buy without having to do all the research.
Our hardcore audience lives and breaths Android, so most of them already know what device they want to buy next. However, I realize that for most of the public, reading our blog is like trying to read Swahili or some other foreign language. The purpose of these guides is to try and help the average consumer.
Having said all that, consider this first guide as a rough draft that will continually be updated and improved over time. We would love to hear your feedback on what other sections or information should be added to the next version. Our lead developer Clark has some amazing site features that are coming down the pipe (like the new profiles), and we are committed to this community.
I ask for your help by sharing this guide with your friends on Sprint and leaving suggestions in the comments below.