Sprint customers looking for faster download speeds will soon have a new and compelling phone option. Sprint announced today that it will begin delivery of Samsung Galaxy S4s with Spark to its sales channels in the next few weeks, adding to its existing lineup of Spark devices including the Samsung Galaxy Mega, HTC One Max and Galaxy S4 mini. Spark is Sprint's enhanced LTE network that delivers blazing data speeds and improved call quality to compatible tri-band phones. You can get the Spark-enabled S4 for $199 with a two-year plan after a $50 mail-in rebate, which is $100 more than the regular Sprint S4, which does not support Spark.
We expect the S4 on Spark to deliver improved data load times, having experienced blazing Spark speeds with the Galaxy Mega and HTC One Max. Files of 200MB took less than a minute to download on Spark-enabled Galaxy Mega and HTC One Max, while the same file took more than five minutes to come through on Sprint's regular network. Granted, not many people are using Spark yet, so the load times might be slower when more users have compatible devices. Sprint says the enhanced connection should offer 50-60 Mbps peak speeds, and could increase that number to 2 GBps over time.
While Spark is a definite improvement over Sprint's standard 4G network, its performance is spotty when compared with competing carriers. During our testing, a Galaxy S4 on Verizon's regular LTE network saw better Speedtest numbers than the Spark devices in an upper east side location, while an AT&T handset also delivered speedier load times.
The Spark S4 will also be available for 24 monthly payments of $25 with Sprint One Up. Before you hand over your money though, you should check to see if Spark is available in your neck of the woods. Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in some 100 largest American cities over the next three years, but the service is already available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami.