By Devika Krishna Kumar
(Reuters) - Want to own the new iPhone without burning a hole in your pocket every month? Sprint seems to be the cheapest option in the United States.
Sprint Corp's offer for the 16 GB iPhone 6S with a basic data, calling and text plan costs between $3 and $10.50 less per month than a competing offer from the other three top U.S. carriers.
The competition in the U.S. wireless industry is fierce and the launch of the newest iPhone iteration on Wednesday is a chance for carriers to lure customers away from their rivals.
But, Apple Inc served up a curve ball by offering its own financing scheme for an unlocked iPhone, which gives a customer the liberty to switch between carriers, rather than be tied down by a contract with one carrier.
However, Sprint's plan works out to be cheaper, on a per month basis, than even buying the iPhone from Apple and going for the cheapest wireless plan on offer.
Sprint is charging $22 per month for the 16 GB iPhone 6S, under a 21-month lease. That along with a basic talk, text and data plan, worth $45, will cost a customer $67 per month.
A T-Mobile US Inc plan similar to Sprint's will cost about $70 per month – $20 for the phone with an 18-month agreement and $50 for a basic wireless plan.
Sprint and T-Mobile usually offer cheaper plans to lure customers from Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, the top two U.S. wireless companies, which analysts say have better networks.
Verizon's plan costs about $77.08 per month, $27.08 for the iPhone over two years and $50 for a wireless plan.
AT&T's plan, Next12, costs about $77.50 per month, $32.50 for a 20-month phone contract and $45 for a wireless plan.
Under Apple's offer, the iPhone 6S will cost $32.41 per month. Paired with a basic $45 wireless plan, among the cheapest available, the phone would cost $77.41 per month.
And what when a new iPhone is launched?
Sprint allows users to upgrade every time a new iPhone is launched, which typically happens once every year, and charges an activation fee.
T-Mobile allows a free upgrade at any time, while AT&T offers the option of a free upgrade after 12 months.
Verizon's plan also permits an upgrade at any time, but requires customers to pay off the remaining cost of the iPhone.
Still, there are advantages in opting for Apple's financing plan.
Apple's scheme includes AppleCare+, a warranty program that provides two years of hardware protection, instead of the standard one year, as well as coverage for two incidents in cases of accidental damage.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Savio D'Souza)