Apple CEO Tim Cook announced two new iPhones at Tuesday’s event in Cupertino, California.

Image: Mashable
By Lance Ulanoff2014-09-10 12:49:31 UTC

Our obsession with owning the latest greatest Apple iPhone is about to undergo a subtle, yet important shift: ownership could be replaced by leasing the latest iPhone, until a new Apple handset comes along. On Tuesday, Sprint followed Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus announcement with an unusual set of product plans Apple’s largest-ever handsets.

When iPhone pre-orders begin on Friday, September 12, consumers will be able to lease the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus for $20 a month, with no money down. After two years, customers can turn in their iPhone 6 for a new one or the latest Apple iPhone. The new plan is called, naturally, ‘iPhone for Life Plan,” and it closely resembles the way you’d lease a new car and upgrade to the latest model after a few years.

The number three carrier is coupling this leasing option with a new all-you-can eat talk, text and data plan for $50 a month, which is a $10 reduction on the plan Sprint introduced just a month ago. Essentially, you could end up with a 4.7 or 5.5-inch iPhone for $70 a month. According to Sprint’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hallock, this undercuts T-Mobile, the only other carrier with an unlimited data plan, by as much as $30 a month.

Such unlimited data plans are likely to grow in popularity as consumers’ appetite for data, thanks in part to LTE expansion, explodes. According to Hallock, there’s been “a wild increase in data use.” Smartphone data traffic consumption will, he noted, grow 10x between now and 2019. Last year US consumers devoured 3.23 trillion megabytes of data according to a recent CTIA annual survey.

If you want an iPhone 5s or 5C, though, don’t expect the same kind of deal. Sprint is apparently trying to cow-path customers into iPhone 6 ownership. On the other hand Sprint has rejiggered some of its other deals, including an updated Family Share Pack Plan: 10 family members can share up to 10 GB of data for $100 a month. Sprint will even help other service provider customers switch with up to $350 per line to buy out the remainder of their subsidized phone contracts.

“You’d be crazy not to be a Sprint customer at this point,” Sprint’s Hallock told Mashable. He also noted that he’s eyeing the phablet-sized 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus for himself.

You may, however, want to wait to line up at Sprint for your phone. Other carriers, in particular T-Mobile, are likely to offer similar and competitive Apple iPhone 6 plans before the new devices go on sale later this week.

Bonus: Inside Apple’s iPhone 6 Event

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