Play it again, Sprint. Now that T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon have all started accelerated upgrade programs with monthly charges (Jump, NEXT, and EDGE, respectively), Sprint wants in on the action. According to some leaked screenshots posted by Cnet, the last of the "Big Four" American carriers is planning a similar program called One Up. The plan has not been confirmed by Sprint, but the screenshot below looks genuine.
Stop me if you've heard this before: under the One Up plan, customers would pay no money down and spread the cost of a new phone over 24 monthly payments added on to their regular phone bill. After one year of payments, the customer is eligible to trade in his or her phone in "good condition" for a new model and begin the great circle of interest-free financing again. However, One Up offers a $15 discount on the plan itself, so the popular Unlimited Everything plan becomes $65 a month instead of $80. Compared to the other upgrade plans it's not that bad a deal. You could take the view that a $600 phone will cost $240 over the course of a two-year contract with an upgrade option after a year, assuming that you wanted Sprint service in the first place. T-Mobile's Jump actually adds a $10 monthly service charge, which compares poorly to Sprint's $15 discount.
Make no mistake: the One Up plan, like its alternatives on other carriers, is a thinly-veiled attempt to keep customers engaged with Sprint service by tempting them with more frequent hardware upgrades. You're still better-served by buying a phone outright if possible and selling it via your aftermarket of choice when you're ready to upgrade. But compared to the other plans (especially Verizon's EDGE), it could be a lot worse. According to Cnet's report, the One Up program is scheduled to launch on September 20th. It will be available for new customers or contract customers who've been on their plans for a year or more.