Sprint plans its own annual smartphone upgrade plan

T-Mobile JUMP. AT&T Next. Verizon Edge. Now Sprint, the United States' other major wireless carrier, is getting into the upgrade game with One Up, a new upgrade program to match the others. One Up is slated the same day that the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s go on sale - September 20, 2013, according to Cnet.

According to the report, Sprint's One Up will let you buy the phone you want with no money down, paid for in 24 installments. If you cancel your service early, you're responsible for the balance of the device cost, but after one year, you can upgrade to a new phone and start the clock over again.

What's more, One Up customers will get a $15 discount on Sprint's Unlimited, My Way or All-In plans. This offers Sprint customers a very palatable alternative to either AT&T or Verizon's upgrade programs - which enable you to upgrade but don't discount service. The report suggests it'll be even cheaper that T-Mobile's bargain-basement unlimited plan.

It was inevitable that Sprint would need to follow suit with the other U.S. carriers, but it's a bit surprising that it's taken them this long to get a program together: T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T announced out their respective plans in July within a couple weeks of one another.

However, it's not coincidental that Sprint is announcing this the same time that the new iPhones go on sale - a lot of customers of all four companies are going to be looking around for the best deal before committing to pay for a new phone. Major events like an iPhone release are a significant opportunity for customer churn, so Sprint is very interested in retaining as many of its customers as it can, as well as adding some new customer to the rolls.

Smartphones can be really expensive, and these upgrade plans make it easier for cash-strapped smartphone users to get the latest hardware as painlessly as possible. The upgrade plans are also a strong incentive for customers to stay loyal.

The One Up deal isn't official yet, and a representative contacted by Cnet refused to comment. But assuming it's legit, One Up should give penny-pinching smartphone shoppers a strong reason to consider America's third-largest wireless carrier.