Chicago — Sprint CEO Dan Hesse went to the Museum of Broadcast Communication today to announce a fitness-oriented smartphone, network enhancements, and a satisfaction guarantee to promote its network improvements.
The carrier said it launched the satisfaction guarantee after completing a complete replacement of its 3G network and the deployment of 4G LTE in 471 markets “to deliver faster data speeds and improved call quality with a marked decrease in dropped and blocked calls.”
Sprint also announced additional network enhancements, including nationwide availability of HD Voice, 28 new 4G LTE markets, and three new Sprint Spark triband LTE markets.
New products include a fitness-oriented, waterproof version of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone, available exclusively to Sprint and called the S5 Sport. It will be available with a new mobile health and fitness package that will also be available to other Android-based phones launched later this year by the carrier.
Under the satisfaction guarantee, Sprint offers consumers the opportunity to use Sprint service risk-free for 30 days. If consumers aren’t completely satisfied with Sprint’s performance during that time, Sprint said it would refund the cost of their device and waive all service and activation charges.
The guarantee is available June 27 to new consumers and to select corporate-liable customers who activate a new line of service at a Sprint-owned store, preferred retailer, or Sprint’s website and toll-free number. The guarantee is also available to current subscribers who add new lines of service through Sprint-owned stores and through Sprint’s website and toll-free number.
The S5 Sport, available July 25, is priced under the Easy Pay installment-payment plan at $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $27.09. It is the second variation of the Galaxy S5 to hit the U.S., the first being the S5 Active, Sprint said.
The Spark-equipped S5 Sport features IP67 rating for waterproofing and dust resistance. The phone will continue to operate after submersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, the company said. The phone isn’t shockproof.
For the fitness-oriented, the phone features Samsung’s integrated S Health platform, which lets users access health info, map out workouts, and monitor heart rate before and after activity via the phone’s built-in heart-rate monitor. An exclusive Samsung Activity Zone app for active people features barometer, compass, flashlight and stopwatch.
The phone’s textured body makes the phone easier to hold and helps keep it from slipping from a user’s hand. It also features three hard keys so the smartphone is easier to operate when active.
Starting July 25 for a limited time only, customers who purchase the S5 Sport get $50 off a Samsung Gear Fit accessory, which tracks steps and monitors heart rate.
As part of the included Sprint Fit package, the phone offers the ability to track, monitor, and share workout activity via 12 months of free MapMyFitness MVP, which includes content such as customized audio coaching and training plans. The package also includes access to Spotify workout playlists with free Spotify premium service for six months for customers who are on Sprint Framily plans. Three months of service is available with other Sprint plans.
Other Sprint Fit features include updated smart, contextual health and fitness content.
Network upgrades announced today include the nationwide expansion of Sprint HD Voice, which is promoted as offering fuller, more natural-sounding voice calls. The benefits can be heard only on calls from one HD Voice-enabled phone to another. Sprint currently supports 28 HD Voice-capable postpaid smartphones and 33 prepaid phones. The company estimated that about 16 million subscribers currently use an HD Voice-enabled device.
In expanding 4G LTE to 28 more markets, the carrier expanded its LTE footprint to 471 cities reaching more than 225 million people. Sprint expects to reach 250 million with 4G LTE coverage by midyear.
Sprint Spark triband LTE technology was expanded to St. Louis, Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C. Spark delivers average wireless speeds of 6Mbps to 15Mbps and peak wireless speeds of 50Mbps to 60Mbps today on triband LTE devices, with speeds expected to accelerate in the future. The capability is now available in 27 cities.
The carrier also said it would soon deploy 8T8R MIMI radios in its Sprint Spark markets to improve coverage, signal strength and data speeds in the 2.5GHz band. Sprint expects to begin commercial deployment this summer for use with devices equipped with 8T8R technology.
In the coming weeks, Sprint also said it will add international Wi-Fi calling so customers can make calls and send texts via Wi-Fi in more than 100 countries.