U.S. Cellular dangles free iPhone 7 to lure new customers

iPhone 7
U.S. Cellular hopes to entice users to switch by giving them a free iPhone 7.

U.S. Cellular is countering Sprint’s latest promotion by offering a free iPhone 7 to users who switch from rival carriers.

The fifth-largest U.S. mobile network operator said new customers who trade in as many as four qualifying smartphones can get Apple’s latest model and get unlimited data on the phones for as little as $40 per month. U.S. Cellular’s unlimited-data plans start at $70 a month for a single line and top out at $160 a month for four lines of unlimited data.

“At U.S. Cellular, we provide a better value through a better experience—from our strong network, to top-of-the-line devices, to unmatched customer service,” said Grant Leech, vice president of brand marketing at U.S. Cellular, in a press release. “Combine with this current deal, now is the perfect time to get iPhone 7 and experience U.S. Cellular for yourself.”

To be eligible for the new iPhone, switchers must trade in an iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S6 “or better” in working condition and undamaged. The rebate is applied via monthly bill credits of $18.28 on a 30-month installment plan plus a $100 U.S. Cellular promo card.

The company also said existing customers who upgrade to any new iPhone will receive a $100 in-store credit to buy accessories, and those purchasing a 9.7-inch iPad Pro will save $200 off the tablet.

The moves come as competition is ratcheting up once again during the home stretch of the second quarter. Sprint earlier this week garnered headlines when it began offering a year of unlimited data to users who switch as many as five lines from its bigger rivals, and T-Mobile today launched a campaign offering customers a second Galaxy 8 free when they buy the first at full price.