As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about wireless carriers quite a bit here on the Swappa Blog. In addition to saving you a bunch of cash on your next smartphone and tablet purchases, we also want to help you save on your wireless service. We started with the introduction of our Wireless Plan Comparison Tool, and followed up by giving you all the in-depth details on some of our favorite wireless carriers. Now, we’re looking at the best MVNO wireless carriers and plans that operate on all four major US wireless networks.
We recently took a close look at the best wireless carriers that operate on the T-Mobile network. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, Sprint. So if you’ve got a Sprint phone and want cheaper service or are looking to pick up a gently-used Sprint phone, read on to learn more about the best wireless carriers and plans that work on the Sprint Network.
Sprint network technology
Not too long ago, we covered the past, present, and future of Sprint and its Network Technology. As a brief recap, Sprint is currently the fourth-largest major US wireless carrier with a subscriber base of 54 million individuals. Tracing its roots all the way back to 1899 with the Brown Telephone Company, Sprint has quite the storied lineage. And pending regulatory approval, Sprint now looks set to merge with T-Mobile in the near future.
With such deep roots in telecommunications, it should be no surprise that Sprint has been prominently involved in all five generations of wireless technology. In fact, back in 2008, Sprint became the first major US carrier to implement a 4G network using the now-defunct WiMAX infrastructure. Sprint eventually switched gears to 4G LTE in 2012, and has continually improved the speed and coverage of its network in the time since.
Most recently, Sprint has also been making significant strides in their progress towards 5G, with True Mobile 5G promising speeds upwards of six times that of their current 4G network. This is done thanks to the use of mid-band spectrum that delivers better transfer speeds than low-band 5G and more expansive coverage than high-band “mmWave” 5G.
What carriers use the Sprint network?
At first, this might seem like a bit of a trick question — but we assure you, it’s not. A little known fact in the wireless industry is that each of the four major US cellular networks rents out network access to smaller carriers, which in turn resell network access to consumers. This practice forms the foundation of the MVNO carrier model, which stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Where this gets interesting for consumers is that with an MVNO carrier, you can access the same exact networks that you’ve grown to know and love but for a fraction of the price.
Given the reliable coverage and fast speeds, it should come as no surprise that there are several MVNO carriers that operate on the Sprint network. Some of the best MVNO carriers that currently have agreements with Sprint are Tello Mobile, Net10 Wireless, Republic Wireless, Straight Talk, Ting Mobile, Tracfone, and Twigby. Of these, only Tello Mobile relies on Sprint exclusively, whereas the others use multiple host networks.
|MVNO Carrier||Host Network(s)||Plan Overviews and Reviews|
|Tello Mobile||Exclusively Sprint||Tello Reviews|
|Net10 Wireless||Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile||Net10 Wireless Reviews|
|Republic Wireless||Primarily WiFi (Sprint and T-Mobile fallback)||Republic Wireless Reviews|
|Straight Talk||Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile||Straight Talk Reviews|
|Ting Mobile||Sprint, T-Mobile (Verizon coming in Early 2020)||Ting Mobile Reviews|
|Tracfone||Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile||Tracfone Reviews|
|Twigby||Sprint, Verizon||Twigby Reviews|
Best carriers and plans on the Sprint network?
Now that we know which MVNO carriers use Sprint’s nationwide network, we can dive into some of their most compelling plan options. Since there are too many plans to list in a single table, we’ve highlighted some of the best value options on each carrier. Here, you’ll find the best cheap plans and the best heavy usage plans so you can figure out what works best for you.
|MVNO Carrier||Best Cheap Plan||Best Heavy Usage Plan||Notes|
|Tello Mobile||$6/mo (500MB high-speed)||$39/mo (25GB high-speed)||Most plans offer unlimited text, data *|
|Net10 Wireless||$20/mo (1GB high-speed)||$50/mo (10GB high-speed)||All plans offer unlimited talk, text, data *|
|Republic Wireless||$15/mo (WiFi data only)||$25/mo (2GB total data)||Adaptive Coverage: WiFi with cell fallback|
|Straight Talk||$34/mo (3GB high-speed) **||$41/mo (25GB high-speed) **||All plans offer unlimited talk, text, data *|
|Ting Mobile||$6/mo (emergency only)||$40/mo (moderate usage)||Ting doesn’t do plans; pay for what you use|
|Tracfone||$20/mo (1GB total data)||$30/mo (3GB total data)||Carry over unused data to next month|
|Twigby||$7/mo (emergency only)||$32/mo (10GB high-speed)||Most plans offer unlimited text, data *|
* Although data is technically unlimited, speeds are lowered after your plan’s limit has been reached.
** Pricing assumes maximum possible discount by either purchasing a year of service in advance or by using auto-refill.
What phones work on Sprint MVNOs?
As one would expect from mobile carriers that operate on a given host network, Sprint MVNO carriers are compatible with Sprint phones. In other worse, you’ll be able to pick up a killer deal on a newish Sprint phone on Swappa without the headache.
And since all devices sold on Swappa come with our guarantee of protection and safety, you can buy with confidence knowing you’ll be getting a fully functional, gently used device that is ready to activate as soon as you get it. So whether you’re looking for a used Sprint iPhone in mint condition or a flagship Android phone, the Swappa Marketplace has you covered.
Which carrier is best?
Just like what we said when summarizing all the best carriers and plans on the T-Mobile network, there is no single “best choice” that’s perfect for everyone. Just like how one size certainly doesn’t fit all when talking about clothing, one wireless plan won’t suit everyone’s needs either. So instead of naming a single best option, we will highlight some of the best options for a few usage profiles.
Extremely light usage
Not everyone needs unlimited data or unlimited minutes. If you are only looking for basic cellular service for a backup phone, or you find that you’re constantly blanketed by WiFi coverage at home, school, or work, you may be able to trim down your wireless plan and save a lot of cash. Instead of paying for a beefed-up plan you don’t need, consider Ting Mobile and Tello.
We recently took an in-depth look at Ting Mobile’s best plans and Tello’s best plans, and found that you could be paying as little as $6/month with either carrier. Ting offers the added versatility of being compatible with all four major US host networks, whereas Tello offers a little bit of data and wireless minutes on their $6/month plan.
Now, we’re getting into a more typical usage pattern. Average smartphone users may stream a few hours of YouTube or Netflix here and there, as well as listen to Spotify on their daily commute, but they also generally connect to WiFi whenever it’s available.
While you can certainly still save with Ting Mobile’s rates under a more moderate usage profile, you may find that your pricing goes up a bit too quickly once you start streaming several hours of audio and video content per week. Tello’s rates still make a lot of sense here, as you can get unlimited talk, text, and data (4GB high-speed) for just $19/month. So if you’re set on using an MVNO provider that locks you to the Sprint network, this may be your best bet.
Heavy usage and mobile hotspot
Here, we’re entering the realm of smartphone power users. We’re talking about plans meant for people who stream countless hours of HD movies, constantly stream podcasts and music, and are basically glued to their screens. In other words, we want plans with as much data as possible — and while we’re at it, why don’t we throw in mobile hotspot tethering as well!
Surprisingly, Tello keeps on doing well for extremely heavy users. Offering unlimited talk, text, and data (25GB high-speed), as well as unlimited WiFi tethering for just $39/month, Tello makes a very compelling case for all but the most data-hungry power users. But what about if you need even more high-speed data? Here’s where Straight Talk comes in, with their truly unlimited plan for $55/month (10GB hotspot included), though traffic over 60GB may be monitored to prevent abuse.
As we’ve said in the past, choosing a suitable wireless carrier and service plan is a very personal decision. Every single carrier and plan that we mentioned in this post has its own unique set of benefits, so what truly matters is picking the right carrier for you. That said, if you’re set on using an MVNO on the Sprint network, we feel that Tello offers some of the best rates across the board for most users.
We hope that this plan and carrier comparison helps you narrow down the list of which carriers and service plans are best for you. While you’re at it, don’t forget to also check out some of the best deals on gently used Sprint phones on the Swappa Marketplace. Click on the button below to find the best wireless plans on carriers using the Sprint network.