updated 08:05 am EDT, Thu September 15, 2011
Sprint shifts upgrade plans in Apple accommodation
Sprint is implementing sweeping changes to its upgrade and return programs that are likely in anticipation of its iPhone 5 launch. New leaks from the company's Playbook newsletter show that it quietly dropped the Premier yearly upgrade program at the start of the month, confirmed by the official page. As explained by Sprint and AndroidCentral, existing members will have until the end of 2012 to claim an upgrade, after which they'll be dropped into the regular New For You upgrade plan.
In a partial compensation, the New For You qualifying time is being shortened down from 22 months to 20 as of October 2, letting users trade up sooner. Accessory deals and yearly gifts are going away as of the end of 2011, however. Return periods for everyone are shrinking from the 30-day policy to an AT&T-like 14 days, and upgrade fees for online or phone orders are going up to the same $35 as in store.
Sprint claims the changes are necessary to keep its unlimited data plans, its network upgrades, and its access to 4G, Android-based, and "other devices." It's better to improve features for many than to keep things that only work for a few, the company said.
Although unstated, the shifts come just after a cancellation fee hike and are likely to make the iPhone financially sustainable. Premier program members would be likely to take advantage of the iPhone deal to upgrade regularly, but Sprint would also want to have more customers updating to new iPhones than its current period allows.
At least one iPhone model is poised to arrive in the first half of October.