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Sprint extends $20 lease program to Galaxy S5, Galaxy S5 Sport

The program, where customers essentially rent a phone, was originally launched with Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Sprint is doubling down on its smartphone leasing programing.

The Galaxy S5 Sport will be eligible for lease at Sprint. CNET

Starting Friday, the nation's third-largest wireless carrier by subscriber will extend its leasing program, in which customers pay $20 a month for 24 months for a device, to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S5 Sport . The plan was originally designed specifically for the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The Overland Park, Kan., company, a unit of Japanese carrier Softbank, has been desperate to win back customers. Under new CEO Marcelo Claure, who joined in August, the company has offered a steady stream of new programs, from doubling the data for family plans to the new leasing program. The programs are all part of its effort to reverse its customer losses, more pressing at a time when rival T-Mobile is set to overtake it on subscribers.

The leasing model is new for the wireless industry, which has primarily sold smartphones -- either subsidized, under a monthly installment plan or at full price without a contract.

Because it is a lease, customers are essentially renting the smartphone. After 24 months, customers have the option to buy the leased phone, return it for a new one, continue leasing it on a month-to-month basis or return the device and cancel their service. If they buy the leased phone, they will have to pay a set-up amount set in the leasing contract and determined by Sprint.

Under the program, Sprint customers can sign up to lease a 16GB Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S5 Sport for $20 a month. Existing customers who qualify have the opportunity to receive a $15 credit, bringing the lease payment down to $5 a month.

Unlike the iPhone For Life program, there is no option for the $50 unlimited text, call and data plan available for the GS5 or GS5 Sport. Customers have to sign up for an Unlimited My Way, My All-In, Simply Everything or Everything Data shared plan.

Just a week ago, Sprint expanded its iPhone For Life program to the iPhone 5S, and also offered the option of annual upgrades under the leasing program (at a higher monthly rate).