It's hard to be Sprint these days. Its LTE rollout is lagging way behind the competition, it's losing subscribers and cash fast, and everyone is making fun of its "Framily" plans. That's too bad, but Sprint isn't going to get back in our good graces by charging money for things we already have or don't need in the first place. That's just what it's doing with the new Total Equipment Protection (TEP) Plus plan.
The Galaxy S5 is a pricey phone, the cost of which the big four American carriers typically offset by pushing consumers towards two-year contracts. They generally also offer the choice to pay for the entire phone upfront, but people who want to own the phone outright and have the several hundred necessary to do so stand to benefit from shopping around for the lowest price, and lowest commitment, option available. Today both Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have added their names to the list of providers willing to sell a Galaxy S5, doing so for $599.99 with no contract.
As other carriers have ended unlimited data in recent years, Sprint has held firm. This was perhaps the saving grace of its network as Sprint struggled to catch up to other carriers in the race for LTE coverage. According to a report from Fierce Wireless, Sprint is going to be pulling back a bit on unlimited 3G/4G data for the biggest users on its network. Beginning as soon as next month in some markets, anyone who falls in the top 5% of data consumers could potentially be throttled down to ensure others can get connectivity.
Update: Apparently the update should also bump HTC One Max owners up to Sense 6. This may turn out to be quite the OTA.
Wi-Fi calling is great for people who still have plans that don't supply an unlimited number of minutes or during those times when cell reception in a particular location is less than stellar, as it lets customers place phone or send text messages over a Wi-Fi connection instead.
Sprint or Verizon customers in the market for a new Galaxy S5 might want to meander on over to Amazon right about now. Currently the site has the handset available for just $99.99 with a two-year contract, half of the usual upfront fee. This deal is applicable both for new customers and people looking to upgrade to another device.
Verizon users who would prefer to avoid Amazon do have a few options.
As one of Sprint's prepaid mobile offerings, Boost Mobile's big draw is that it's affordable. But competition has ramped up as of late, and now the carrier has rolled out three new "Monthly Unlimited Select" service plans to shake things up. The offerings range from $40 to $60, and all are technically unlimited, only not really.
Taking a closer look, the lowest plan offers 500MB of data. Users who exceed that amount then find themselves throttled down to 2G speeds for the remainder of the month.
Remember the HTC EVO LTE? Sprint does, at least to some degree. The carrier is sending out a small software patch for the phone, reportedly removing a vulnerability from the infamous Heartbleed SSL security bug. Unpatched versions of Android 4.1.1 (and only 4.1.1) are vulnerable to Heartbleed, so EVO LTE owners probably want to get on that right away.
Heartbleed's relationship to Android is a little strange: it affects Android 4.1.1, but not earlier versions of Jelly Bean 4.1, and not later versions of any release, either, so the number of active phones and tablets at risk is comparatively small.
Do you like the idea of water and ingress protection on the Galaxy S5, but don't feel like ponying up for a flagship phone? Then Kyocera hopes you'll consider its Hydro Vibe smartphone, at least if you're a potential Sprint or Virgin Mobile customer. The "ruggedized" Android phone will be launching on Sprint on May 9th and Virgin on May 27th. Sprint is talking up its "Easy Pay" payment plan, where the phone costs ten bucks a month for two years, but Virgin will sell it outright for $149.99.
Sprint got on the Google Voice train early – about when Google got bored and started ignoring the product. At any rate, things have been fine for users on Sprint, who get tight integration with Google Voice on their Sprint number. Well, except this last weekend. There's a pretty big thread going over at the Google Product Forums of Sprint users reporting strange behavior with GV.
The Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4 out of the box, and most of the US and international versions of the Galaxy S4 have been given the KitKat update as well, but millions of owners of the Samsung Galaxy S III from 2012 are still sitting on an outdated version of Android. Sprint seems to be the first US carrier to alleviate that: this support page says the update for the S III is going out starting today.