If you want to use Sprint's network without signing a contract, there are a lot of options out there, including its subsidiary Boost Mobile, the American MVNO Virgin, and hybrid provider Republic Wireless, among others. Sprint hopes that there are at least some prepaid customers left out there, because starting on January 25th, it will be offering its service in contract-free flavors.

Update: Sprint confirmed the new service to Fierce Wireless and provided some additional details. There will be no limits on data or bandwidth throttling, and LTE service will in fact be enabled on the Galaxy Victory.


There are only two smartphones that will be available at the beginning of Sprint As You Go: LG's somewhat misnamed Optimus Elite, and the Samsung Victory, conspicuously absent of the "4G LTE" branding that's present on Sprint's current Galaxy model. The former will run you $150 with no subsidy, while the latter is $250; not terrible as far as prepaid phones go, but not exactly bargains, either. $70 a month gets you unlimited talk, text and web, though you're not allowed free roaming on EVDO networks for data. The exact position on roaming (remember roaming, kids?) isn't made clear, but it looks like using data on non-EVDO networks may eat into your pre-paid credit. Since this information comes from pre-release materials meant for Sprint employees and affiliates, we probably won't be able to go deeper until the end of the month.

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If you want even cheaper options, there are "feature phones" available with a $50 a month plan. Customers will be alerted to their dwindling service 10 days and three days prior to bills coming due, with no penalties for stoppage of service. More phones will be introduced in the future, possibly more from Sprint' main lineup. Standard Sprint phones, including Samsung's Galaxy S III and Note II, the LG Optimus G and the HTC EVO 4G LTE, cannot be used with Sprint As You Go.

The question that springs to my mind is, why would any well-informed consumer pick Sprint over Boost or Virgin for prepaid service? Assuming that the Samsung Victory will have its LTE radio disabled (and to be clear, that is just an assumption at this point), less expensive plans are available from both Boost and Virgin, with a wider variety of devices. Just for example, Virgin currently offers the LG Optimus Elite for $80 ($70 off the Sprint As You Go price) with unlimited talk, text, and 3G data for $55 a month. Want something a little snazzier? The HTC EVO V 4G (basically a skinned version of the older EVO 3D) is $150, with the negligible bonus of WiMAX. Over at Boost, the LG Venice, Samsung Galaxy Rush and ZTE Warp Sequent run $220, $149, and $200 respectively, and all of them run Android 4.0, something that neither of Sprint's prepaid phones can boast. If running an 18-month-old version of Android is, indeed, a boast. Boost has unlimited everything for $55 as well, but like Virgin, they knock you down to 2G speeds after 2.5GB of data. And if you really want to be really thrifty and/or futuristic, Republic's $19 unlimited hybrid 3G/WiFi service is just $250 bucks away, though admittedly limited to the lackluster Motorola DEFY XT.

In short, the only real reason to look to Sprint for pay as you go service is if you want to avoid the 2.5GB "soft limits" on Boost or Virgin, or you don't want to deal with Republic's somewhat newfangled way of providing service. If Sprint wants to attract customers to this service, they'll need some better options - like, say, the ability to buy any current phone outright and use it with a pay-as-you-go plan.

Thanks, Anon!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • http://www.facebook.com/ajac09 Anthony Evans Jr

    so what about virgin, and boost?!?! why so many damn brands. Why cant sprint just consolidate all of there prepaid brands into one ?!?! Is it really that hard?

    • Jeremiah Rice

      I think Virgin used to be partially owned by Sprint, but now they're an independent MVNO. Boost is partly owned by Sprint. I suppose you could say that they're aiming for a slightly higher-budget market with the "official" Sprint prepaid phones? Yeah, I don't get it either.

      • ScottColbert

        A 5 second Google search would have told you Virgin Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint. If you write an article and answer feedback, try doing a bit of research instead of guessing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Henning/1265662259 Doug Henning

          Many of these so called journalists are just guys working in their basements posting stuff... I find so many errors just about Sprint in articles which as you said would take 5 seconds to check... However, I do wonder why Sprint is doing this in the first place when there are tons of other options available.... Maybe it's a first step to move completely towards prepaid and away from subsidies???? They have to be careful about roaming data... I have a family line and one of lines is with a child away at a school that is outside of Sprint territory... I was worried about roaming data but I have 5 lines and only that one is currently outside of territory and I was told not to worry.. These new plans either block roaming or charges like the old days of roaming calls...

      • faceless128

        it was a joint venture between Virgin and Sprint, then Sprint bought it out.

        • shel

          My notebook II takes a sim card someone told me that i can go & get a straight talk sim card from walmart does anyone know if this is true or not, i was on verizon until my phone bill was $400 a month!!! I dont think so, so i stopped paying it, i called verizon numerous times & told them to get it under control or else, so i stopped paying, its terrible when a cell phone bill is more then my electric bill!!!!

      • http://cashd00d.co.cc/ WHAT?

        The "AP Staff" badge next to your name made me laugh. Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile are both 100% owned by Sprint. Any cell phone "journalist" should know that.

  • chris125

    $70? There are many better options for cheaper and better selection of phones. No thanks sprint

    • Paul_Werner

      Came here to say what you already said

      • BryanHeadrick

        Same Here

  • ProductFRED

    How is this better than Straight Talk exactly? $45 a month unlimited everything (they throttle you after using 2-3GB, but it's a still a better value). I had Sprint for 2 years and I worked for them, and this is what their speeds are like in most areas. On my S3 running on Straight Talk, I get up to 3-5 Mbps on average in the same places. $70 for unlimited data @ 56K Modem speeds, or 2-3GB at 3-5 Mbps? Your pick.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      To keep it on an even footing, I only mentioned those companies that use Sprint's network. Granted, Straight Talk has a MUCH wider coverage area, but there might be people who are geographically limited to Sprint and its MVNOs.

      • ProductFRED

        Oh I'm not replying to the author (you), just asking out loud :) Sprint going prepaid is kind of big in itself because they used to be the best value for what you would get, but never had a prepaid option. T-Mobile's $30 plan is also great if you have good service: 100 minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited data if you don't talk much.

  • fixxmyhead

    sprint? no thanks sprint sucks . slow ass network. u hear that liam? why did u sign another year

    • Cicero58941

      They are more than slow. They hang and lag and I never have all my bars. Furthermore, Sprint charges me and my husband $165.00 a month for this tired service. My HTC EVO sucks. It constantly needs to restart, and the battery only lasts about an hour off charge. My contract ends in October 2013. Good riddance to Sprint and the EVO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701042965 Chris Chan

    "but it looks like using data on non-EVDO networks may eat into your pre-paid credit."

    So, using data on wifi will count against your data take? What the hell?

    • Guest

      OMG, use a brain will you!!! Obviously they meant "using EVDO data on non-EVDO networks may eat into your pre-paid credit."

      How does using WiFi eat into any prepaid credits????

      • Freak4Dell

        I guess the phrase "takes one to know one" would work pretty well here. How the hell would you use EVDO data on a non-EVDO network? Personally, I'm not sure why EVDO was even brought up by the author, but regardless, Sprint typically restricts roaming data to 1xRTT data, so it's safe to assume that's the case here, too. Whether they charge or not is unknown, but this is prepaid, so chances are they either charge or just simply do not allow roaming at all.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Henning/1265662259 Doug Henning

          I get full 3G roaming on Sprint in some areas esp in rural areas that used to be in network when they partnered with Alltel which was bought by Verizon...

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701042965 Chris Chan

          I must have misunderstood the original article - I've had Virgin Mobile for years and just recently switched to T-Mobile Monthly4G, so I've never had or really thought about roaming.

  • http://twitter.com/doctroid doctroid

    Another good option on the Sprint network is Ting, especially for multi-device households. Way better selection of phones, or (with some limitations) you can bring your Sprint phone.

  • http://twitter.com/Surrealistwave Soul+Surreal+Logic

    Ha! Glad I left the Sprint/Boost/Virgin/Softbank train. If this is their idea of competing with the other three and providing choices, they're screwed

  • faceless128

    sooo... the benefit here is... voice roaming on Verizon? yeah, dunno if that's worth the $15 a month over Virgin/Boost...

    i guess for SOME people, having a Sprint logo on their phone is more of a status symbol than a prepaid logo... or something...

    • Freak4Dell

      LMAO...both are about as equally ghetto at this point. I can't see anyone being proud to sport a Sprint logo.

  • wolfkabal

    Ting FTW!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000226442285 Matthew A Darragh

      Yea, was about to say. Aside from the Sprint owned Virgin and Boost, even Sprint powered MVNOs like Ting offer a much better deal and better phone selection.

    • atlouiedog

      I'm a Ting customer. I literally just received (it's still cold from the FedEx truck) a Photon Q from a contest and it kills me that I can't bring LTE devices to the service yet. It's worth it though as someone who is almost always on wifi and really only uses data for email and checking yelp, maps, etc. The word unlimited is nice, but not something I currently need.

      • wolfkabal

        Exactly - I clung to the 'unlimited' for so long thinking "what if I need it" when in reality I was barely using over 500MB of network data a month. Realizing most of my usage was wi-fi. Making the switch was a no brainer. I've BYOD'd two devices and bought a LG S as a doner for my GS3 until BYOD is activated on LTE devices. Plus if anyone wants to learn about customer service, Ting is the perfect example.

        • atlouiedog

          I'm thinking about going the donor phone route with my elite in the meantime. When I checked a few days ago that forum seemed kind of a mess in terms of finding clear instructions on where to start. I'll try digging in this weekend.

          • wolfkabal

            If you need help, let me know. I've done quite a few, and already know the ins/outs of Ting.

          • atlouiedog

            Cool. Thanks. Is there a particular thread in the Ting forums that will help get me started? I've rooted my phone, played around with CWM, flashed modified kernels, etc. and don't mind getting my hands a bit dirty. I'm just not sure where to begin for this.

          • wolfkabal

            The process of Donor-ing a phone is completely different and requires a different set of tools than anything you've probably used - especially for rooting and changing roms. It also veries widely based on the phone you are using as the donor and the recipient. CDMA Workshop is a start, but I've moved away from that. Look for the demo version of DFS CDMA Tool. The process is just like with Boost or any of the other MVNO, with the exception that Ting will help you with everything you need. You'll need your MSL, MNID, and MEID from Ting (donor phone) - they'll gladly give it to you just open a request ticket.

          • atlouiedog

            I'm waiting on a reply from Ting which should come along shortly based on past communications and I've retrieved the MSL from my Photon Q thanks to a tool I found via the xda forums. I've got the DFS CDMA Tool demo and it seems to work just fine with my Optimus Elite, but unfortunately it doesn't find the Photon Q. I've got the latest drivers and have successfully used adb with the device so it's not an issue with connecting it to my PC. I'm not sure that I want to spend $100 on CDMA Workshop for this one use when BYO(LTE)D is expected within the next couple of months.

          • wolfkabal

            Make sure the phone's USB and UART settings are correct.This varies on every phone. I've been able to do this for years without CDMA Workshop. It's sometimes easier but for single usage definitely not worth the price. Open up a forum topic on Ting with PhotonQ in the title and I'll find you there to continue support.

  • Freak4Dell

    Sprint is really showing their desperation here. I get that they're bleeding customers and they need to do something about that, but offering prepaid plans with less features for the same price as their postpaid plans? That's just retarded.

  • Jeremy Gilliam

    Epic fail again Sprint!

  • VigVamVoo

    Doesnt Sprint like have the worst service out there?


  • http://twitter.com/travoloso Homeostasis™

    Let me get this straight, Sprint releases me from my contracts last April for 1x data roaming that exceeded their revised terms and conditions of service; (I used around 600 mb on average mostly due to my office building) Then turns around and offers a prepaid svc for 80 dollars less than what I paid? This has to be the worst managed company in America.

  • David Viohl

    The key difference that a lot of people are missing is the Sprint as you go Service includes roaming agreements, where other Sprint no contract offerings do no. To someone who travels a lot this can be a big deal.

    Also, the Sprint as you go will probably not be subject to throttling as Boost/Virgin are.

  • CeluGeek

    If they allowed the Photon Q or the Galaxy Note II, I would've given it a chance but these crappy phones are a no-go.

  • SoCalTechie

    Why is Sprint so strict about not allowing BYOD?! I have a HTC EVO from 2010 that I replaced with my Galaxy S III when I renewed my contract, my EVO still in good condition is just laying around with no purpose. If Sprint allowed BYOD to its network I could've passed the phone down to my brother and activated it on its prepaid service, that would mean $70 more a month Sprint would be earning.

  • 1bmwdrvr1

    I'm grateful for 4.0.3 on my HTC EVO V 4G and don't understand why the author dissed the WiMax feature. In my Left Coast home it's as fast as my 18㎓ fiber optic home WiFi. Usually around 15mb download and 5mb upload speeds. I can't imagine ever going back to Contract service. Anyone know the reasoning behind the poor selection of handsets offered on pre-paid providers? I would gladly pay full tilt if Virgin would offer the S3 or Nexus line of phones. So far their best is the S2 or Apple 4s. I don't see a significant difference in hardware between my EVO V and the S2 and the 4s is stuck with the mini screen.

  • cpip2009

    So, I've looked at quite a few of the posts here and haven't seen stated what seems pretty obvious to me.

    Sprint's post-paid service allows roaming on other carriers' networks. Their prepaid services do not - you're stuck on Sprint's native network which is extremely limited. If Sprint allows the EXACT same service on this new prepaid offering, you'd get coverage that you'd never get on Boost, Virgin, Ting, or any other Sprint prepaid service or MVNO. Just my two cents (for what they're worth), but it seems pretty clear to me that you'd get more "bang for the buck" this way than with the other Sprint prepaid options.

    • rkb55989

      Ting allows voice (though not data) roaming... and even before I enabled it (for whatever reason it was disabled on the device by default, probably because Sprint configured them like that), I had very few issues on Sprint's native network.

      • cpip2009

        I wasn't saying that Sprint's network has issues. I was simply stating an obvious fact - Sprint's network, while robust, is limited geographically. A simple comparison of Sprint's native coverage vs the same map with "roaming" included will plainly show the limited coverage of Sprint's NATIVE network.

        Another instance would be to compare Sprint's native coverage with that of either of the other three carriers' maps (individually of course). If you select the "prepaid coverage" on any of the other three carriers' maps you will see that there's a great disparity in geographic caverage.

        As I understand it, this may not be the case moving forward after the finalization of the Clearwire aquisition. It's my understanding that they'll be "flush" with spectrum when everything's said and done. If that's the case then taking advantage of the new prepaid option would be the best thing around.

        I personally like Sprint's service, and Sprint as a company (their business ethic). This wasn't meant to be a snub in any way to Sprint as a carrier, nor to their network.

  • yarrellray

    Tmobile pimp slaps Sprint period.

  • Chilldower

    The reason they aren't allowing any WiMax phones onto this new service is that Sprint's WiMax service doesn't actually require an authorized account to connect. Don't believe me? Grab a deactivated WiMax device and turn on 4G. Surprise! It will still connect and give you data service. Kind of a big f*ck-up, Sprint...

    • joremero

      Just tried it with an evo 3D and while it connects to 4G, there is no service

  • Jeremy

    I've had sprint For two years and they still suck I get my upgrade this month I'm thinking of dropping sprint because they charge you like you just bought gold or something.

    • Cicero58941

      Yes they do. They charge more than any phone provider in the business. People steer clear of Sprint. They lied to me about the actual cost of my monthly bill. My first bill was for almost $500.00, and each bill per month for two phones is $165.00.

  • SprintPR

    just to be clear -- Sprint As You Go is NOT a prepaid plan. Customers receive a bill and then pay it. It's a no contract offer but not prepaid

  • Chad T

    i love my lte i'm getting 28mbps during peak and no dropped calls dallas LTE rocks been with them for 12 years, My company provies me with ATT Iphone ATT WORSE SERVICE ever. THERE LTE is no where dependable in HOUSTON or DALLAS. and VZW is just VERIGREEDY

  • jay

    u cheap

  • jay

    u cheap ass

  • Blossom777

    Can someone please recommend the best prepaid smartphone, that has excellent/great reception, and good customer service? I'm looking to buy, and am reading many conflicting reports everywhere about Straight Talk ( I have service with them currently with an older phone, and the reception is not great), Boost, and Virgin Mobile. I want to buy the phone ASAP. Thanks.

  • rosiesmom

    My daughter has a Samsung Galaxy II Epic Sprint phone she bought from someone that had previous service with Sprint. Is there ANYWHERE or with Sprint that we can have a Plan that she doesnt have a contract?? Please Help Thanks

    • barnassey thomas

      I would say use it with ting. As long as it is not stolen or lost 6 months after contract ends you can put it on ting.

  • Keisy Fuentes-Pinet

    I'm leaving Sprint, tired of my slow internet I have the HTC Evo 4g LTE and both 3g and 4g are slow and most of the time they even stop working thinking on changing to virginia mobile or straight talk its not worth paying 85 dollars monthly if the only thing I use is internet and it dont even work right.

    • Cicero58941

      That is why I am leaving Sprint also. My contract is up in Oct. Looking right now for new prepaid carrier, but tired of buying a new phone each time. The Fed Gov is supposed to be cracking down in companies like Sprint who lock their phones so you can't transport out to new carrier. Why do I pay over $165.00 a month for two phones, andhave paid for these phones by now, and cannot use unless with Sprint.

  • Leo

    I have sprint and I want to cancel my contract It has been 6 days without getting or receiving any calls. Any suggestions how to cancel my contract? Spring sucks

  • Ryan Donovan

    This is useless...no cheaper than their contract service. My contract just ended and I moved to tmobile prepaid unlimited everything for $50...no tax it fees. Best decision I ever made

  • stefani

    I hate Sprint, it makes no sense how every other pay as you go allows you to use any phone you want, they only have ugly low rate phones that you can't really do anything with. F#*k them I'm staying with my T-mobile.