Is Sprint a viable carrier for smartphones right now?

Posted Apr 25, 2012 at 10:14 am in Threads > Opinions

This is truly a question I have that I want others to answer. This is by no means me dissin’ Sprint. I am legitimately concerned about them and I’d like to know what the general public thinks about this.

Why am I asking this?
Because it seems like every day I read an article, a tweet, or hear from somebody in person how their Sprint 3G or 4G speeds tend to be less than 0.5mbps. To me, this is totally unacceptable and leads me to believe that Sprint is no longer a viable carrier for smartphone users. While not an absolute, it seems to me that I need a connection that can handle ~1mbps or more, otherwise I’m unhappy with my smartphone experience.

So I (never having been a Sprint customer before) ask you (who has been or is a Sprint customer): Is Sprint a viable carrier for smartphones right now?

  • Taylor Wimberly

    Really depends on what you are looking for. AND where you live.

    Sprint is slow right now, but the have “truly unlimited” data and their plans are cheaper than VZW/ATT.

    If you don’t care about LTE (why do you need 50 Mbps down on a phone?), then I’d say T-Mobile is a viable carrier for smartphones. They have the lowest prices of the big 4, and they also have no-contract plans (Monthly 4G). Their HSPA+ networks is the fastest of the 3G/HSPA+ networks around.

    You also have to consider what devices you will be using. Both ATT and TMO are GSM so they are friendly with most unlocked phones and you have more choices.

    Basically, there is no simple answer. Too many things to consider.

    • jaxidian

      Oh, I’m in no way asking “Who are the best carriers”. In fact, I simply am looking at the data speeds of Sprint. My brother-in-law has an OG Evo and, well, I can only pull ~256kbps while on WiMax when I’m standing in an area that I spend ~60% of my waking hours. That won’t do. And the thing is, it seems like this is normal from what I keep hearing/reading.

      So if this is normal, how can this be a viable carrier option for people who really consume data? It’s hard to do that at such low speeds. Once you hit a certain point, then anything faster is gravy for the most part. To me, ~1mbps is about where you go from painful to pleasant and then again ~3mbps is when you go from pleasant to very nice. While I can measure the difference between 3mbps and my LTE’s 25mbps, it only matters when I’m downloading 100MB files, which still isn’t painful at 3mbps.

    • tnnm

      I moved after nearly a decade from Sprint to Verizon last year because Sprint had jacked up rates so much so that they were only about 15% cheaper for a dual phone plan than VZW. I figured I was willing to pay that kind of premium for faster LTE service that I could actually use in a moving train (that was before Sprint announced a transition to LTE).

      I even paid an ETF on Sprint to make the move to VZ in July prior to the end of VZ’s unlimited data plan offerings. And despite a couple of all day no data network events on VZ, I haven’t looked back.

      • tnnm

        Oops, I should say I moved from an Evo 4G to a Samsung Droid Charge (which Costco later allowed me to change to a dual core Droid Bionic since the Droid Charge had such unreliable bluetooth).

  • yankeesusa

    Like taylor said, there are too many things to consider right now. If you plan on changing now and need a reliable phone with almost no dropped calls then sprint will work for you anywhere that sprint has any type of coverage. If you require data speeds to be decent then thats another story.
    In some areas sprint gets around 1.5mbps but in most cases like in my case it is never near that. Part of it has to do with the iphone taking over and people who never used a smartphone now use one.
    Another part is sprint is upgrading their networks right now and things are going to be slow.
    So the question is, do you want to save money and also have unlimited data? Then I would pick sprint.
    If you require fast data speeds and reliable data connection for either personal or business use then I would look elsewhere (for now)
    After sprint upgrades to lte and improves their current 3g, something they are currently doing and supposedly is on track to be really amazing, then more people can rely more on their smartphone and a good data speed on sprint.
    So it depends on where you are and if your willing to wait couple more months for faster and more reliable data.
    I myself can’t wait and am looking forward to faster speeds and ics on my evo3d. Then in december I will upgrade to one of the new lte phones, whichever gets the best battery life will be my decision maker.

  • Canterrain

    Like all things: it depends.

    I’m on sprint and when I saw reports of such slow speeds I was surprised. Probably because I never use the 3g network. I’m always on wifi or 4g. My wimax averages a rounds 7 to 8 mbps. Which is plenty fine. Is lte faster? Yes. But did I know the difference until I has them side by side? Nope. My phone is plenty fast. At the same time my coworkers att phones won’t work in the back room. Speed matters not without coverage AND penetration.

    The best thing to do is determine which services work where you need them to (in your home, at work, etc.) Then go from there. Because it doesn’t matter how much you spend if you can’t connect to the network.

    • Lord Hasan

      ” Speed matters not without coverage AND penetration.”

      yum penetration…..ahhhhh


      • tnnm

        settle down beavis

  • Nick Gray

    I think it depends on the customer. If you need a fast network, than you may want to look somewhere else. But I know people who own the iPhone and have working on T-Mobile with 2G speeds. And they love it!

    Multiple people here at work are on AT&T’s 200MB a month plan and never use their data. they are constantly hopping WiFi networks.

    Personally, I could not live with Sprint’s speeds and coverage map. T-Mobile does a much better job for what I need and their prices are unbeatable.

  • Mattg67

    Sprint isn’t as bad as people like to say It all depends on your area, sprint does great at my job 4g 8-12mbps I don’t use 3g much, I get signal everywhere I go except my house but I live in the middle of no where nothing picks up here. Verizon is also pretty good, T mobile and ATT are pretty bad which sucks I want to get away from CDMA. Find someone on sprint around you and ask how they like it.

    • jaxidian

      I’d love to hear more feedback like this. I didn’t realize that ANYBODY experienced speeds of 8-12mbps. My brother-in-law’s WiMax runs at ~256kbps here.

  • cadroidman

    Years ago, I would have said yes because of the consistency of their nationwide network all being the same. However, I believe financially they are getting deeper and deeper into trouble. The other thing, they are launching the Galaxy Nexus with 4G turned off….because they don’t have enough markets yet…even in Kansas City (their home base). The would turn me off.

    • zeepzorp

      Wow, I had not heard that cadroidman. And I thought crippling phones was Verizon’s game.

  • triangle

    Sprint is not going to blow you away with their data speeds on 3G. If you’re in their Wimax footprint, you can get decent speeds, definitely above 3Mb. If you’re not, then Sprint is not a viable carrier for you at the moment.

    Once their LTE network is completed, I think Sprint will be a very viable carrier, though maybe not as fast as Verizon. Sprint’s roadmap for 2013 and 2014 will make them very competitive since they’ll add Clearwire’s LTE network and then LTE at 800MHz, so I see Sprint having a network that will be in decent shape.

    One thing that gets overlooked in these discussions about data speeds is whether the voice quality of the network is good or even acceptable. That’s where Sprint will be better than a carrier like AT&T (at least in NYC), where AT&T drops calls all the time, while Sprint does reasonably well. Despite AT&T’s faster network, regular dropped calls will make a carrier not viable for me.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • jaxidian

      Very good points here. Things will definitely be different once they land LTE. Also, for voice, I’m there with you. I’d take Sprint voice over AT&T voice nearly any average day. There will be a random location where AT&T is better (my parents’ place next to a mountain) but 90% of days I think Sprint voice would be better.