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Free iPhone 5C? Sprint offers $100 discount to rivals' users

Sprint is offering $100 off any phone to people switching their number over from a rival carrier, just in time for the $99 iPhone 5C's arrival.

The iPhone 5C carries an unlocked price tag of $549.
The iPhone 5C carries an unlocked price tag of $549.
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple caught flak for offering its "low-cost" iPhone 5C at nearly the same price as the one it replaces would have cost anyway. Not to mention that the price of the 5C topping $700 unsubsidized in markets like China seriously crimps the device's appeal in major regions of untapped demand.

But a promotion in Sprint stores takes the idea of a low-cost iPhone 5C and does one better: It makes it no cost.

The carrier, a distant third to Verizon and AT&T by number of subscribers, will be giving up to $100 discounts on any phone, including 16GB iPhone 5Cs on preorder now priced at $0 on its online store, to people who bring their number to Sprint from a rival. "Switch to Sprint, keep your number and save on any phone -- only for a limited time, and only from Sprint," the deal's language reads. It requires a new two-year contract activation and has restrictions. The offer lasts until October 10 while "supplies last," and excludes taxes, service charges, and an activation fee.

The deal applies to a wide swath of the phones Sprint sells, but the pricing at $100 and timing right before the arrival of the iPhone 5C are conveniently well matched. The front page of Sprint's Web site has the iPhone 5C and the $100 discount right next to each other.

Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Representatives from Sprint didn't immediately respond to a message asking whether the discount was timed to induce 5C customers specifically.

Apple revealed the 5C alongside a higher-end update to its flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, last week ahead of a retail launch on Friday. The 16GB model of 5C retails for $99 with a two-year service contract in the US, and $549 without a subsidy.

The Sprint deal trumps other offers from retailers on the device. Walmart last week said it would sell the 5C for $20 off and the iPhone 5S for $10 off the full price with the standard two-year contract with a carrier of your choice.

[Via The Verge.]

Now playing: Watch this: iPhone 5C makes its debut