Sprint launches new iPhone campaign amid surprisingly quiet market

Apple iPhone 8 (Apple)
Sprint launched yet another promotion for Apple's iPhone 8

Sprint launched a series of new lease offers for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in an aggressive move to woo customers in a surprisingly quiet market.

The No. 4 U.S. carrier is promoting discounts of as much as $350 off the list price of Apple’s latest phones to customers who trade in one of roughly two dozen other handsets. The 64 GB iPhone 8 is available for no money down and $9.72 a month through the Sprint Flex payment program it launched in July, for instance, while more expensive iPhones are also available.

Trade-in phones must be owned outright—not leased or being paid off on an installment plan—and include iPhone 6 and 7 models, the Google Pixel, Moto Z Droid and BlackBerry KEYone, among others. The discounts are applied through bill credits paid through Sprint Flex, and the deal is available to new customers or existing users who are eligible for an upgrade.

Sprint is also waiving its $30 activation fee for users who order online or by phone, and the offer includes the iPhone Forever program, which enables users to upgrade to Apple’s latest model every year after 12 lease payments.

The promotion is the latest indication Sprint remains willing to move aggressively to grow its market share even as its rivals take a more conservative approach. Last month Sprint sweetened a promotion for the iPhone 8 just three days after it began accepting preorders for the device, offering a free 18-month lease to users who activate a new line of service and trade in an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus.

The looming question, of course, is whether Sprint’s latest promotion will spark other carriers to become more active as the U.S. wireless market approaches the holiday season. Thus far, at least, there are few signs that will occur in any major way.

“iPhone 8 offers were modest and have now expired for two of four carriers,” Wave7 Research wrote earlier this week. “iPhone competition was modest and centered around trade-ins. T-Mobile’s $20 price hike at the two-line level and Sprint’s upcoming $10 price hike for its ‘5 for $90’ switcher offer portend a lower level of competitive intensity in October. Reported M&A negotiations could be having a positive impact.”