Welcome to our regular buyer’s guide column where we break down each carrier to let you know about current promotions and pick the best devices. Each week we 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
Amazon's Spring Into Sprint: We already mentioned it earlier this month, but Amazon has all Sprint 4G phones on sale for only $0.01 as part of their Spring Into Sprint promotion.
HTC EVO 3D for free: Sprint is now offering the HTC EVO 3D for free when you open a new line with Sprint or add a line to your account.
Sprint Data Storm Sweepstakes: Sprint announced a new contest called the Data Storm Sweepstakes, where they are giving away 30 free Galaxy Nexus smartphones. Enter once daily through 4/5.
Free Code Factory for the blind: Sprint announced the Code Factory applications will be available for free (typically costs $99 on Google Play) for postpaid Sprint customers with Android 2.1+ smartphones activated on a monthly service plan that includes data, such as the Everything Data plan starting at $79.99. Code Factory is a series of apps for people who are blind or visually impaired and for elderly individuals or those who cannot read print on smartphones because of physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive or learning disabilities.
Sprint terminates Spectrum Hosting Agreement with LightSquared: Sprint had signed a deal with Lightsquared to offer LTE coverage over their 1.6 GHz spectrum, but now it's dead. "Due to these unresolved issues, and subject to the provisions of the agreement, Sprint has elected to exercise its right to terminate the agreement announced last summer." Sprint still plans to launch their own 4G LTE network with their own spectrum this summer.
Best Android Phone: Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch
Not much has changed since last time. 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.
Sprint still sells the Epic 4G Touch for $199 with 2-year contract, but Amazon has it on sale for only $0.01.
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 not be upgraded to Android 4.0 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. If you really want a keyboard phone, I'd just wait till Sprint announces their new spring lineup.
Best Android Tablet: ZTE Optik
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.
Best Android Phone on a Budget: HTC EVO 3D
Last month we recommended the HTC EVO Design 4G, but now that Sprint has the HTC EVO 3D for free we are switching our pick.
The EVO 3D is a great Android phone that features a 4.3-inch 3D qHD touchscreen and dual 5-megapixel auto-focus cameras on the rear that can capture Full HD 1080p video in 2D as well as 3D video at HD 720p. It also includes a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB internal storage, and an 8 GB microSD card.
Currently the EVO 3D still runs Android 2.3, but HTC has stated it will receive an upgrade to Android 4.0 in the future.
Check out Nick's HTC EVO 3D review for more details.
What’s Coming Next: HTC Jet (One X)
If you don't mind waiting another month, I would suggest holding out for one of Sprint's first LTE phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has already officially been announced for Sprint and a registration page is up, but we still don't have a release date yet. Rumors suggest the Galaxy Nexus could be available around April 15th.
Also coming soon is a device codenamed HTC Jet, which we believe is Sprint's version of the HTC One X. Sprint and HTC are holding a press event on April 4th, so we should have more details in a couple weeks.
The HTC One X will have a better camera and faster processor than the Galaxy Nexus, so it should eventually become our top pick. However, rumors suggest this HTC device might not be in stores until June 10th.
The LG Viper 4G LTE was also announced as coming soon, but we see no special reason to suggest this device when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC One X.
Sprint will launch their LTE network in the first half of 2012, so we should get a release date for these phones 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.
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.
I ask for your help by sharing this guide with your friends on Sprint and leaving suggestions in the comments below.