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The Best Sprint Phones of 2018

Sprinting Forward

Sprint is coming back. The fourth-place national carrier (in our Fastest Mobile Networks[1] tests) hit a milestone in November as it tied AT&T on Ookla Speedtest Intelligence’s chart of LTE speeds, giving people a reason to switch beyond its constant, super-low-cost promotions. (Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag.com’s parent company.) Picking a Sprint phone can require a little more attention than choosing an AT&T or Verizon phone, though, because Sprint’s network is unique.

It uses bands and technologies no other carrier in the US does (specifically, LTE band 41 and CDMA 1X Advanced), so it ends up missing out on some phones that are popular elsewhere, and instead gets an unusual number of exclusives. We didn’t throw some of the exclusives into our chart, but they’re worth looking at. The Essential Phone[2], for instance, is an absolutely killer device when it’s on sale; as of this writing, it’s available for £108 on an 18-month lease, which is kind of crazy.

Sprint says it’s “while supplies last,” though, so maybe it isn’t ordering any more of them.

New Network Technologies

The hottest new Sprint technology is gigabit LTE, which combines 3x carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO antennas to get the best possible speeds. It hasn’t been fully turned on in Sprint’s network yet, but it’ll come next year, according to Sprint execs. Top Sprint phones also have an exclusive technology called HPUE, or high performance user equipment[3], which boosts upload speeds.

We gave gigabit phones an extra boost for this list: the LG V30+ and Moto Z2 Force are both gigabit-capable on Sprint.

Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition

Related StorySee How We Test Cell Phones[4] That combination of unique technologies means that relatively few unlocked phones[5] work well on Sprint. The latest unlocked Galaxies, iPhones, and Pixels all run on the Sprint network, as do the unlocked Essential Phone, the LG X Charge, and Moto Es, Gs, and Xs.

Imported phones may not work at all, or may get slow LTE speeds as they lack Band 41. And sometimes, Sprint has its own variants of phones that may seem the same as on other carriers, but aren’t. The LG V30+ is a great example of that, as no other carrier’s model supports Sprint’s key bands.

This is why we recommend buying your Sprint phone from Sprint. The 10 phones here are a solid mix of our Sprint picks from low end to high. Take the iPhones, for instance.

Right now, we don’t see a huge difference between the iPhone 7 and 8 generations, so if you aren’t going to get an iPhone X, you should save a little money and go for a 7. Sprint users should stay away from the iPhone SE[6], which we recommend on other carriers, because it lacks the bands for good Sprint network performance. Also, you might notice that the LG V30+ doesn’t have a rating.

That’s because we’re currently in the process of testing it, but we expect it to score highly. While there’s always something new around the corner, you really can’t go wrong with any of the PCMag-approved phones listed here. If you need more help buying a cell phone, check out our cell phone product guide[7] for the most recent reviews.

And if you’re looking for a new carrier, see How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Plan[8].

While you’re at it, take a look at our guides for the best phones on AT&T[9], T-Mobile[10], and Verizon Wireless[11].

Featured Sprint Phone Reviews:

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus

    [12]

    Editors' Choice
    MSRP: £769.00

    Bottom Line: Absence of headphone jack aside, the 7 Plus is the best iPhone you can buy, with more memory than its smaller counterpart and dual cameras that peer toward Apple’s future.

    Read Review[13]

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    [14]

    Editors' Choice
    MSRP: £750.00

    Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a gorgeous big-screen phone with a comfortable single-handed feel, and it’s packed with top-notch components and promising new software.

    Read Review[15]

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

    [16]

    Editors' Choice
    MSRP: £849.99

    Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active takes the best phone of the year, makes it tougher, and packs in a bigger battery.

    It’s the ultimate rugged phone.

    Read Review[17]

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8

    [18]

    MSRP: £930.00

    Bottom Line: Representing the current pinnacle of smartphone technology, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone has everything that’s great about the Galaxy S8, plus dual cameras and an S Pen stylus.

    Read Review[19]

  • ZTE Max XL

    [20]

    Editors' Choice
    MSRP: £129.99

    Bottom Line: The ZTE Max XL phablet on Boost Mobile delivers solid performance, a nice display, great network connectivity, and the latest Android software for an affordable price.

    Read Review[21]

  • Apple iPhone X

    [22]

    MSRP: £999.00

    Bottom Line: The iPhone X sets the stage for Apple’s next decade, with a sharp new design and a future focus on augmented reality.

    Read Review[23]

  • HTC U11

    [24]

    MSRP: £696.00

    Bottom Line: The HTC U11 for Sprint is the best music phone around, and its unusual squeeze sensor is a fun new way to interact with a mobile device.

    Read Review[25]

  • Motorola Moto E4 Plus
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition
  • LG V30+

    [26]

    MSRP: £912.00

    Bottom Line: With tons of storage and powerful music capabilities, the LG V30+ has potential to be the ultimate phone for audiophiles.

    Read Review[27]

References

  1. ^ Fastest Mobile Networks (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ Essential Phone (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ high performance user equipment (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ See How We Test Cell Phones (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ unlocked phones (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ iPhone SE (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ cell phone product guide (www.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Plan (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ AT&T (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ T-Mobile (www.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Verizon Wireless (www.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  13. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  14. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  15. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  16. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  17. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  18. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  19. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  20. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  21. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  22. ^ (uk.pcmag.com)
  23. ^ Read Review (uk.pcmag.com)
  24. ^ (www.pcmag.com)
  25. ^ Read Review (www.pcmag.com)
  26. ^ (uk.pcmag.com)
  27. ^ Read Review (uk.pcmag.com)

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