T-Mobile announced earlier today that it will be finally start offering Apple’s iPhone on its network.
If you’re considering switching to T-Mobile, here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone on T-Mobile’s network so you can take a more informed decision.
T-Mobile unveiled its contract-free carrier plans over the weekend. With the new plans, T-Mobile is offering unlimited text, talk and web for $50 per month with 500MB data, which also includes mobile hotspot. You can add unlimited 4G data for $20 with 500MB data for mobile hotspot.
You can add up to 12GB of data with mobile hotspot in increments of 2GB to your included 500MB of data. These plans range from $50 to $110 in cost. Each additional 2GB of data with mobile hotspot will cost you $10.
You can buy a factory unlocked iPhone for $649 from Apple or you can buy it from T-Mobile by paying a small amount upfront and the remaining amount in monthly instalments for 24 months.
T-Mobile is offering iPhone 5 for a down payment of $99 plus $20 for 24 months, iPhone 4S for a down payment of $69.99 plus $20 for 24 months and iPhone 4 for a down payment of $15 plus $15 for 24 months.
So if you do the maths, it is cheaper to buy the iPhone 5 from T-Mobile (would cost you $579 over 24 months) rather than buying a factory unlocked iPhone from Apple for $649. However, it is important to note that the iPhone will be locked until it’s fully paid.
I’ll do a carrier comparison shortly.
Carrier Plans Compared
To keep things simple, I am taking the $60 plan with unlimited talk and text and 2.5 GB of high speed data with mobile hotspot.
So over the two years you’ll be paying $579 for the iPhone 5 and $1440 for T-Mobile Uncarrier plan. If you add that up, the total cost of owning an iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s network works out to $2019 over 2 years.
- AT&T – $2,600 for unlimited talk and text plus 3 GB of monthly data and includes upfront cost for the iPhone 5.
- Sprint – $2,849 for unlimited talk, text, and data or $2,600 for 900 minutes talk time, unlimited text, and unlimited data) or $2,120 for 450 minutes talk time, unlimited text, and unlimited data.
- Verizon - $2,600 for unlimited talk and text plus 2 GB of monthly data and includes upfront cost for the iPhone 5.
Talk And Surf
Like the AT&T iPhone 5, the T-Mobile iPhone will allows users to talk and surf at the same time. But I’m assuming that you won’t be able to use LTE speeds while on a call just like the AT&T iPhone. For more details check this post.
T-Mobile will support iPhone 5′s Wideband Audio or HD Voice feature, which makes it the first carrier to support the feature in the U.S. It extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted, resulting in crisper word clarity and more natural sounding speech.
Gizmodo got a chance to test iPhone 5’s Wideband Audio feature on T-Mobile’s network. Here’s what they had to say:
Calling from one T-Mobile iPhone to another, my caller’s voice came through loud and clear. You know how sometimes cell-to-cell voice calls can sound a little fragmented? Like little bits of sounds are being dropped? This didn’t have that. It was a much more natural sounded call. It was a bit richer, and definitely fuller. I wouldn’t say it was like night and day, but it’s definitely a noticeable improvement.
Engadget reports that T-Mobile’s iPhone will ship with WiFi calling disabled initially. WiFi calling is a feature that enables travelers to make and receive calls from their US phone number on any Wi-Fi hotspot around the world. It also a useful feature if you’re in a place where there is little or no coverage.
T-Mobile hasn’t provided any date when the feature will be enabled on the iPhone.
LTE Network Coverage
T-Mobile officially launched its 4G LTE network in seven cities earlier today. T-Mobile’s LTE network will be available in the following cities from today: Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C.
T-Mobile has said that its LTE network will reach 100 million Americans by the middle of 2013 and 200 million by the end of 2013.
LTE Network Speeds
Engadget tested LTE speeds of iPhone 5, Samsung Note II and HTC One on T-Mobile’s LTE network. Here’s what they had to say:
Finally, we tested two separate iPhone 5s and, interestingly, saw different speeds. The first averaged 26Mbps down, the second 18 – despite being tested at the same time. [Upload] speeds hovered around 10Mbps and pings were always very good, typically under 50ms.
So, as ever numbers vary widely from test to test, but the network can certainly deliver some impressive numbers on average.
It goes without saying that a lot will depend on the coverage in your area.
If you’ve been an iPhone user on T-Mobile’s network then this is a big thing. T-Mobile’s iPhone 5 will be compatible with the AWS-based HSPA+ network (1700/2100Mhz). T-Mobile is rolling out LTE on the same spectrum.
Unfortunately, the bad news for existing iPhone 5 users on T-Mobile network is that, AWS compatibility cannot be enabled via a software update. This has been confirmed by Apple. Apple will be shipping a tweaked A1428 model of iPhone 5 with support for AWS bands.
Interestingly, the A1428 model also works on AT&T’s network, so when Apple starts shipping the tweaked A1428 model it will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile LTE bands. Apple plans to phase out the older A1428 models.
If you opt for the iPhone by paying $99 upfront plus $20 for 24 months, then your iPhone will be locked to T-Mobile’s network. The iPhone will be unlocked when the payment is complete.
If you want to cancel the service after buying the iPhone under the new Uncarrier system, then you have to buy it out. You also have the option to continue to pay the monthly instalments or trade it in for another device. T-Mobile has said that it will provide “fair market credit” for the phone.
T-Mobile’s iPhone will officially launch on April 12. Customers will be able to start pre-ordering from April 5 on T-Mobile’s website.
I hope this answers most of your questions. Do you plan to switch to T-Mobile? Let me know in the comments below.