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Sprint just declared war with a free iPhone 8 deal

Published Sep 18th, 2017 2:47PM EDT

Last year, all four big carriers hammered each other with iPhone 7 pre-order deals that were great for customers, but terrible for the bottom line. 2017 was supposed to be different. Forget the “unlimited price wars” of early this year; carriers were all set to offer a couple hundred bucks off a phone over the course of a two-year-deal, and that was that.

Well, Sprint either didn’t get the memo, or it didn’t care, because it just upgraded its iPhone 8 pre-order deal to offer some customers a free new iPhone.

Under the terms of Sprint’s new offer, anyone who trades in an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, or a brand-new Galaxy Note 8 will get a free 18-month lease of an iPhone 8. After the 18-month lease ends, Sprint customers have the option of handing the iPhone back, or paying the standard lease price ($29.17 for the entry-level iPhone 8) for six months, and owning the device outright.

In theory, that means you’ll be getting an iPhone 8 for $180 in cash, way down from the $700 Apple wants. You do have to trade in a recent-model iPhone or Galaxy S8 to get the deal, but it still works out in your favor. Used iPhone 7 handsets are selling for $400-$500 on eBay currently, so depending on your model of iPhone and the condition, this could be a good deal — and one of the first deals from a carrier that makes more financial sense than just selling your old phone on Craigslist and buying the new iPhone unlocked.

Of course, there are still strings attached. The deal is contingent on activating a new line of service with Sprint, which runs another $50 per month. If you’re not in a region with good Sprint coverage (which is very possible!) then you probably haven’t even read down this far. Existing Sprint customers aren’t completely left out: current customers who own an iPhone 7 are eligible for the trade-in.

In a sign of good faith, Sprint is applying the order retroactively to any existing iPhone 8 pre-orders that meet the conditions, which will be a nice surprise for a handful of customers.