10
Dec
130327-sgs4

Sprint's Galaxy S4 is much like the GS4 on other US carriers. It has a Snapdragon 600, 2GB of RAM, and it doesn't have the necessary LTE bands to take advantage of Sprint Spark. That's Sprint's new enhanced tri-band LTE that it plans to deploy all over the country in the coming year. Don't worry, though – Sprint is going to sell a new version of the phone it released six whole months ago that supports Spark.

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The third LTE band in Sprint's triumvirate is the 800MHz block freed up with the closing of Nextel earlier this year. This combines with the 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz bands Sprint already relied on for much faster speeds. Some phones like the HTC One Max and Nexus 5 already have support out of the box for the necessary bands, but the GS4 was not so lucky. As such, Sprint is getting a new version of the device that supports all three bands in a few weeks.

Presumably the Spark-capable Galaxy S4 is going to displace the old version in the sales channel, and it will sell for $199 on-contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. Otherwise, it seems to be the same device. This sounds like a hardware change, not software. That means current GS4 owners won't be getting access to Spark.

[Sprint]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • Brad

    They should let people swap....

    • MJ

      Why? You new to the tech thing? The phone was released six months ago not two months ago (and if it had been it would be the consumer's fault for buying it). The current Samsung Galaxy S4 works perfectly fine on Sprint's network.

      • DJTEN23

        Any phone on the Sprint network isn't working fine.

        • Donatom3

          A month ago I'd completely agree with you, but things have changed in my area in the past month. With my Nexus 5 I'm getting LTE about 80% of the time between work and home and LTE speeds are getting pretty decent with my Nexus 5.

        • John Smith

          I agree. If I stand in Westlake Park in Seattle (pretty much the center of downtown Seattle) I get *maybe* 2 bars on the LTE network

          Currently, I am in a high-rise off Westlake park and I have 3 bars for the 3G network.

          Maybe Sprint's LTE signal doesn't penetrate air properly? It's f'ing absurd !

          • Steve Colins

            I work right smack dab in Westlake Park as well (5th and Pine building). In the interior of the building, I'm strictly 3G. If I move towards a window and wait a few moments, I'll get a 4G signal that's pretty good.

            I'm not surprised though... Sprint's (non Spark) LTE is a higher frequency, and the higher the freq. the less penetration through solid objects, in general.

            That's why I'm excited to see Sprint getting Spark rolled out in more areas with the 800MHz band since that should get into those spaces a lot better than 1.9GHz does. Too bad my Galaxy S4 doesn't have those (it's not the new tri-band model), but at least by the time I upgrade my phone, maybe Spark will be there waiting for me.

            As it is, the 3G in Seattle isn't too bad... sure, it's not LTE but I do get decent speed.

          • John Smith

            I agree that 3G is good. I just wish that my GS4 would let me turn off the LTE connection so that I can run 3G 100% of the time.

          • Steve Colins

            I don't know how it is on the stock ROM, but on my custom ROM it lets me switch the mobile mode to CDMA, CDMA/LTE, (and even a setting for GSM/UMTS), or Automatic. It's on LTE/CDMA by default but I guess if I wanted just 2G/3G I could set it to CDMA.

          • John Smith

            AWESOME!!
            on stock, one can set it with: Settings -> on Connections tab -> More Networks -> Mobile Networks -> Network mode -> select "CDMA", or "LTC /CDMA" or "GSM / UMTS" or "Automatic"

      • Brad

        Oh, I know it won't happen...

      • ironcimmerian

        Apparently it's yourself that's "new!" NO, it DOESN"T work fine on the Sprint network! THAT"S WHY WE'RE HERE.

  • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

    Access to another spark for s4. Ka-boom!

  • Eric Jones

    I have three phones on my contract. By July, the last line will be out of contract. If I don't consistently get good data speeds by then (say an average of 5, yes, only 5 mbps), then I'm done. I have a Nexus 5, so I'll be able to test the Spark network, and easily leave if it sucks. I was gullible with Sprint with their WiMax rollout, and their LTE rollout, always thinking I was just a little bit away from fast (usable really) data speeds. I won't fall for it again waiting on their Spark network upgrades. I occasionally get really fast speeds as high as 20 mbps, but typically it's more like 100k or not even there at all.

  • William Whoric

    Finally.. this was all I needed to know. I'll be leaving after this contract is up. I was told that my GS4 would qualify for Spark whenever they decide to start rolling it out. Only to find out here that my GS4 in fact DOES NOT qualify. I'd have to buy another one that is upgraded to handle their "super duper ultra fast" network? What a joke. I'm done with this company and I assume everyone else will be too within 5 yrs.

    • clipse2d

      Dumped sprint about 6 months ago for T-Mobile. Even paid ETF on 2 lines, couldn't be happier with that snake of a company out of my life!

  • jeff

    Everybody needs to relax. The sprint net work is continually getting better. There's new sites being worked on everyday. But with that said there has to be enough towers in the area that have already been modernized for sprint/Samsung to flip the switch. As far as down town seattle, I just built a site recently at the convention center. 《~~Tower tech

    • david

      why should anyone relax? people paid 100s of dollars waiting... phones no network now allegedly a network n no phones... mini? are you a child? max ot one max g,,,, might as well carry a computer everywhere... n g2 ... oops no update for next 4 months ... here we go again... next comes note 3....once again flagship phone with no network

    • scott t

      I can see why people are upset.... while I can drone on and on to people about how I'm turning up about 300 new LTE sites for SPRINT in the next few months(Los Angeles market), the fact is it's only going to benefit them IF they have a new(er) updated phone that supports 2.5GHz(band 41) LTE ....it's kind of a shame that SPRINT and the manufacturing companies didnt have the foresight to include support on this BW preemptively and have them ready to go when SPRINT flips the switch, instead of having to BUY NEW HANDSETS..... Myself having a Galaxy NOTE II , I'm in the same damn boat!!! :(

  • Alex Zavala

    Just look at this, galaxy s4

    • Maverick_F14

      Outstanding!!!

      Sprint is fantastic.