Are prepaid HTC EVO phones really worth it in the long run?

While the rest of the world has Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 3.6 on their HTC EVO 3Ds, Sprint customers here in the US are still stuck with last year’s software. This has lots of people questioning whether or not the Sprint-branded EVO 3D was really worth it in the long haul, and whether it makes more sense to go with a prepaid EVO.

I decided to sit down and do the math with the EVO 3D and the EVO Design 4G, and here’s what I came up with.

EVO 3D

As of right now, the cheapest place to pick up a Sprint-branded EVO 3D – and one of the only places that’s still selling it – is Best Buy. It’s available for $99.95 on contract, and individual plans start at $79.99/month (that includes 450 anytime minutes, unlimited any mobile minutes, unlimited nights and weekends that start at 7 p.m., unlimited messaging, and unlimited data). An unlimited everything plan is $109.99/month. Therefore, the total two-year cost to own the EVO 3D on an individual plan is $2019.71-$2739.71, depending on the plan you pick.

If you’re on a Sprint family plan, your per-person cost is slightly less: two people who have EVO 3Ds on Sprint’s lowest family plan will pay  $1899.83 each over the length of two years. This plan includes 1500 shared anytime minutes, and all of the other benefits I mentioned above. If you can manage to get five people together on that plan, the per-person cost goes down to about $1251.76.

Two people on an unlimited family plan will pay $2619.71 each, while five people on that unlimited plan will each pay $1539.71.

The EVO 3D on Virgin Mobile, also known as the EVO V 4G, will cost $299.99 up front, and then between $35-$55/month, depending on the plan you pick. The $35/month plan gets you unlimited messaging and data (with a 2.5GB soft cap) and 300 anytime minutes, while the $55/month plan is unlimited everything. Therefore, the total two-year cost on Virgin Mobile will be between $1139.99-$1619.99.

EVO Design 4G

Again, Best Buy is one of the only places where you can get your hands on the Sprint-branded EVO Design 4G. It’s selling for $49.99, so let’s do the math: On the individual 450-minute plan, your total two-year cost will be $1969.75. For an individual unlimited plan, you will pay a total of $2689.75.

On a 1500-minute two-line family plan, you will each individually pay $1849.87, but the price goes down to $1201.80 if you can get five people in on this plan.

Two people on an unlimited family plan will pay $2569.75 each, while five people on that unlimited plan will each pay $1489.75.

The EVO Design 4G on Boost Mobile will cost $299.99 up front, and then initially $55/month for unlimited everything (with a soft 2.5GB cap). This is the only monthly plan that’s compatible with the EVO Design 4G, although Boost does offer shrinking payments. This means that each time you make six on-time payments, your bill will drop by $5/month. Thus, over two-years, your bill could be reduced to as low as $40/month, although this will average out to $47.50/month over that time period. Your total two-year cost, assuming you make your payments on time, will therefore be $1439.99/month.

The winners

If you’re an individual on your own plan who doesn’t plan on using more than 300 minutes/month, Virgin Mobile will offer you the best deal over a two-year period, saving you at least $829.76 over Sprint’s postpaid pricing.

If you’re an individual looking for unlimited everything, Boost has the best two-year price, saving you $1249.76 over the course of two years.

If you can manage to get five people on a family plan, Sprint seems to be the clear winner. The difference in cost per person between Sprint’s 1500-minute family plan and Virgin Mobile’s 300-minute individual plan is negligible (Sprint’s costs about $60 more per person over the course of two-years), and Sprint offers many more benefits, including unlimited any mobile minutes, unlimited early nights and weekends, unthrottled and uncapped data, and access to roaming in more places.

The difference in cost between Sprint’s five-person unlimited plan and Boost’s unlimited individual plan is also negligible (less than $50). You also get the added benefit of subsidized handset pricing with Sprint, so you don’t have to pay a lot of money up front.

Things to consider

It’s important to keep in mind that, while Boost and Virgin do seem to offer better deals monetarily for most people over the long haul, there are several disadvantages: first, reports seem to indicate Sprint doesn’t give priority access on its towers to prepaid customers (remember that both Boost and Virgin use Sprint’s towers); therefore, depending on coverage and network conditions in your area, you may get worse coverage on a prepaid device. Additionally, Boost and Virgin don’t offer roaming in as many places as Sprint does, so you may be stuck without a signal when traveling to some places. Both of these prepaid carriers also throttle data after 2.5GB.

Sprint also offers perks above and beyond what you’ll get from Boost and Virgin, including better customer service, early nights and weekends, and unlimited calling to all mobile numbers in the US.

However, prices for tethering, international calling, and international messaging should also be considered, depending on how you use your phone. I also didn’t take into account any of the multitude of corporate discounts that Sprint offers people depending on where they work, or Sprint’s lower-priced friends and family private store. If you can manage to get one of these discounts, Sprint may be the clear winner for you, even with an individual plan. However, before any discounts, only Sprint’s family plans with the most lines come close to matching prepaid pricing.

Mobile phones and plans are definitely not one-size-fits-all, so how you use your phone will definitely make a difference on what’s a winner to you, and what’s not. Hopefully, I helped you sort through some tough decisions, but in the end, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your situation.

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.