This was the second article making such a recommendation, with the first earlier this year.
Unfortunately it appears that Sprint's dalliance and decision to try to rely on the iScrewedUp may prove to be a fatal mistake.
On the iScrew side, the iPhone4S is being reported to have severe battery life problems. The Fanboi Brigade will probably allow Apple (AAPL) a pass on this for a little while, but not for long. Apple may be able to fix this with some sort of software "adjustment" but if not......
Second, Android is catching up fast. The argument the Fanbois have always made is that Android ships more than Apple but on a single-manufacturer basis the opposite is true. Not any more: Samsung (SSNLF.PK) has now taken the lead as a single provider of Android devices, meaning that the day of Apple's "dominance" in the smartphone business is pretty much done. The new Galaxy S2 (and the HTC "Amaze" series which are based on the same hardware) are simply mind-blowing devices in terms of what's in the package.
But the biggest problem for Sprint is that one of their core advantages has always been their price-points, especially in pre-paid which historically have been serious impediments to the post-paid world. Virgin Mobile with its $55 unlimited everything package was simply unbeatable.
Note that word: Was.
You have to buy your device (or bring your own), but that's nothing new. I was in one of their stores last night - the banner clearly said the data cap (before they throttle) was 5Gb, not the smaller 200Mb or 2Gb limits.
That's a screaming deal for postpaid service. There's no handset subsidy and there is a two-year contract, with a $200 per line ETF penalty if you walk early, which is amusing -- remember, the argument all along from the carriers is that the reason for the ETF is to cover the handset subsidiary if you walk. We now know that was a lie, don't we?
Nonetheless that's a hell of a deal as it's cheaper than Virgin, Boost (also a Sprint property) and other prepaid folks. It beats MetroPCS which is around the $60 price-point as well.
Yes, it's a "limited time offer" but the discount here is not small - about $25 over where it was when you looked at it before they put forward this "deal." And if you buy one of the newest handsets you should be protected if the AT&T merger goes through as the Galaxy SII has AT&T's 3G bands in it and it appears the HTC "Amaze" does as well (I cannot confirm the latter, but the former I have confirmed; Samsung has done this for a long time unknown to many -- the original T-Mobile Vibrant will connect quite-happily to AT&T's 3g service if you remove the subsidy (SIM) lock.) With this option you also have roaming access (internationally and on "partners" where there's no native T-Mobile service), which for travelers may be important.
Business waits for nobody and when you have a competitive opportunity and fail to take advantage of it someone usually shows up and smacks you upside of the head with a clue-by-four.
I have really wanted to see Sprint get something together here, but I can't get there from here at this point. The firm may have placed a literal death-rattle bet with the iScrewedUp instead of putting its heft behind allowing anyone on their prepaid plans with any technically-compatible device. I understand the fear from their point of view in doing it but the fact of the matter is that Sprint needed to make a "break the window" move on the mobile telecom industry and now they're stuck - T-Mobile has jumped them and while this deal will "expire" I suspect they'll be back with another chainsaw to cut off more and more limbs from Sprint until they finally collapse from hypovolemic shock.
The best thing for Sprint would be for the T-Mobile merger to go ahead and the price competition to lessen. I don't think that's going to happen though -- the government is attempting to block the merger and I've gone from being reasonably sure it would go through (though it shouldn't) to having some hope it won't. Given Sprint's financial condition they're ok for the next year or thereabouts, but that's not very long, and hitching their corporate survival to a device that is losing market share and is damned expensive in subsidy costs may prove to be the biggest mistake of all.
Disclosure: The author trades positions in the securities mentioned frequently, and may have or hold a position at any point in time. Given the fluid situation a detailed report of what I've got right now would be pointless since it's likely to change on -- quite literally -- a daily basis.