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Sprint moves away from subsidized pricing, announces new iPhone leasing plan

Have a penchant for bleeding-edge iPhones and an unparalleled hatred of two-year contracts? If you find Sprint’s service and coverage copacetic, the carrier’s new vision might just whet your whistle.

Sprint chief Marcelo Claure announced in an interview Monday that the company would eliminate two-year contracts and subsidies in favor of phone leasing plans, plans which Sprint says a majority of  its customers (51 percent) favor. It’s a move that brings the SoftBank-owned carrier in line with its major competition — T-Mobile ended subsidies two years ago, Verizon introduced new subsidy-free plans earlier this month, and AT&T in June stopped offering subsidized devices to all but its Next subscribers.

As a part of Sprint’s new strategy, it introduced iPhone Forever, an evolution of its iPhone for Life phone leasing program. The crux is simple: Lease the latest and greatest iPhone for a low monthly fee. Under the terms of iPhone Forever, the Sprint’s letting new customers who trade in their current smartphone nab a 16GB iPhone 6 — and any new iPhone thereafter — for $15 per month. That rate jumps up to $22 per month after Dec. 31, but the carrier says it’ll pay off the old handsets and contracts of customers who switch.

Related: Forget iPhone for Life — Sprint will give you an iPhone 6, iPad Mini 3, and unlimited plan for $100 a month

If the new program sounds familiar, that’s because T-Mobile introduced a new monthly device payment program of its own — Jump On Demand — in June. T-Mobile’s plan offers a greater choice of handsets and allows subscribers to upgrade to a new phone up to three times a year, but folds the cost of phones into monthly payments (the 16GB iPhone 6, for example, runs $27 a month).

Surrendering smartphone ownership might be an unpleasant thought to some, but the stark difference in price  — $264 on Sprint’s new plan versus $649 outright — might persuade otherwise unwilling customers to entertain leasing. For folks who really can’t stand the idea of renting the phone in their pockets, though, Sprint says it’ll offer a full-price purchase option throughout the leasing plan’s duration.