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Sprint Corporation

Spending: Say goodbye to cellphone subsidies

In recent years, wireless carriers have vied for smartphone market share by offering flexibility: no-contract, lower-price service plans for customers willing to pay full price for a phone. Now, with nearly every cellphone user a smartphone user, providers are applying that model to all their plans, eliminating the hefty subsidies that longtime customers relied on to knock hundreds off the price of a phone.

T-Mobile led the charge in the spring of 2013, when it discontinued two-year contracts. The other three major U.S. carriers -- AT&T, Sprint and Verizon -- responded with similar, voluntary programs. But Sprint recently announced that it was eliminating long-term contracts,...