Sprint hosted a press event in Chicago June 23 to—like T-Mobile did the week before in Seattle—talk up major improvements to its network and announce an offer to let consumers try it out for free.
Sprint has undergone a "complete rip-and-replace overhaul" of its 3G network and has deployed 4G LTE in 471 markets, CEO Dan Hesse said at the event and in a statement. Further, Sprint HD Voice is now available nationwide, Sprint Spark is now in 27 networks, and International WiFi calling and texting will be available in the coming weeks.
"We believe customers will be delighted with the Sprint retail experience, our customer service and the performance of America's newest network, so we're guaranteeing it," said Hesse, announcing a 30-day, risk-free trial offer. If you're not happy with the service, Sprint will refund the cost of the device and waive all service and activation charges.
For two reasons, it's easy to think the offer isn't a response to T-Mobile's Test Drive—a seven-day free trial offer that became available June 22. First because Sprint sent out invitations to its event long before T-Mobile's announcement, and second because it seems to lack the ease and appeal of the T-Mobile offer.
Getting a new phone can sound about as fun as moving. For some of us, there's the stress of wanting to first clean out some old junk (old emails, not-great photos) instead of moving with it. There's also the time suck of setting up a new phone—installing the applications you like, signing into accounts; the setting-up that comes with any move.
T-Mobile eliminates any stress from its network test by sending you a phone (an Apple iPhone 5S; there are no other options) to use alongside your personal phone. CEO John Legere joked about wanting to sit at a bar with two phones (and two drinks) and speed test between networks. When T-Mobile's Test Drive is over, one returns the phone to a T-Mobile store and that's that. (Or, that's the promise, anyway.)
Sprint's 30-day money-back guarantee is like saying that if you don't like your new apartment, you can move out. Which, even with a rent refund, doesn't sound like much fun.
"We think our 30-day guarantee is superior to T-Mobile's short trial period in many ways," Adrienne Norton, with Sprint's Corporate Communications team, told eWEEK.
First, she said, customers will have plenty of time to test the device in all the locations they're likely to use the phone. Second, a Sprint representative can set up a customer's contacts, apps, favorites and more, as well as port over the customer's phone number. Third, customers who are happy to keep the Sprint service don't have to do anything, while T-Mobile's offer insists they head to a store whether they want it or not.
Additionally, "Sprint customers don't have a 'gotcha' like T-Mobile's $700 charge," Norton added. "Sprint's longer trial period with a full satisfaction guarantee is evidence of our greater confidence that customers will be happy with Sprint."
It's a Framily Affair
If you're already a Sprint subscriber on a Framily Plan—which by now you likely know is a "family" plan for friends and/or any makeshift versions of family—Sprint has introduced Sprint Family Wall, a free social-media-style app for members of a Framily.