Talking tech since 2003

Despite the fact that they’ve become pretty ubiquitous in all parts of modern society, cell phones ain’t cheap. The handsets themselves are often high-ticket items even after they’re subsidized by expensive monthly service bills, which are bundled into two-year long contracts. Needless to say, actually affording a phone and contract is a pricey proposition. That’s what makes today’s announcement of a partnership between Sprint and Best Buy to offer a year of free mobile service to students to worthwhile.

From now through January 4, 2014, the “My Way Student Promotion” will give students “enrolled in a U.S.-based elementary, middle school, high school, college, university or accredited institute” a year of free unlimited talk and text service with 1 GB of data per month (with the option to add unlimited data for $10 a month). To take advantage of the offer, you just have to offer proof of your enrollment—and then buy one of the qualifying phones at the unsubsidized price.

That’s one of the less-than-ideal aspects of this deal: the price of each phone is pretty high. The list of phones is right here, and not a single one is offered for under $200. Some are in the $250 or $300 range, but many of their prices are daunting to people eyeing this deal. That said, even buying a $900 iPhone 5S with 64GB of storage is going to cost less over the course of a year compared with a year of service at $70 per month (the cost of a smartphone data plan from Sprint) combined with the subsidized iPhone price. And that’s the priciest phone on the list—grabbing a $650 Samsung Galaxy S 4 is practically a bargain, and going further down the list it gets even better.

It’s a decent enough deal, especially if you’re in the market for a new phone. The biggest issue, of course, is that, well, you’re getting Sprint. I have Sprint, and compared to my friends who have Verizon or AT&T, well, it’s not the greatest. But free is free, right?

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