While owners of unlocked iPhones have been able to take their beloved phones and use them on T-Mobile’s network for several years, T-Mobile has never actually offered their own iPhone. Rumors have come and gone saying this will be the year. But in 2013, this year is finally the year.
Today, T-Mobile announced at a special press event the details of their new, official iPhone options to customers as well as their new “uncarrier” plans which remove multi-year contracts and instead move towards customer financing for the hardware directly. On the surface it sounds like quite a change. In reality, however, the end result is pretty similar to customers’ bank accounts. That said, there are some savings to be had. But first, the iPhone.
Starting April 5th, T-Mobile customers can pre-order the iPhone 5 for $100 up front with two years worth of $20/month payments) while the 4S will set you back $70 at the time of sale and $20/month over two years as well. Finally, the iPhone 4 will hit the ground running at just $15 up front and two years worth of $15/month payments. All models will support T-Mobile’s various HSPA+ flavors while the iPhone 5 will also cater to T-Mobile’s currently limited but quickly expanding LTE network. Official launch of the iPhone 5 is April 12th while the 4S and 4 will only be in “select markets”.
Fees and charges for canceling your not-contract early as well as how much of a discount (if any) one gets buy forgoing financing and just buying the iPhone outright from T-Mobile haven’t been revealed yet. That said, the cheapest 16 GB iPhone 5 will set you back $579 for just the hardware over the course of two years worth of financing + up front payment which ends up being ~$70 cheaper than buying an iPhone 5 outright ($650). So, you do actually save some cash this way and kinda sorta get out of a “contract”.
One other perk, money savings aside, is that T-Mobile’s iPhone 5 will be the only one in the U.S. to feature “HD Voice”. T-Mobile will also (like AT&T) allow for simultaneous voice + data thanks to its GSM core.
If you happen to live in an area where T-Mobile’s network is strong, the $50 unlimited talk and text + $20 unlimited data option makes for a very strong argument against the “Big 3″ carriers’ various options, none of which come close to offering the same price or data allotment.
We’re really hoping T-Mobile’s new plan arrangement and official iPhone offering really push the Big 3 to actually compete and increase their service offerings – a drastic departure from the last several years that have seen AT&T and Verizon in particular raise prices across the board while also providing a less actual services and features to end users. The time for a U.S. resurgence in pro-consumer wireless service is hopefully just getting started.