T-Mobile is finally getting in on the iPhone action as of April 12. The carrier announced on Tuesday that it is, in fact, going to officially offer the iPhone 5 on its network starting at US$99.99 with 24 monthly payments at $20 each as part of its new Uncarrier program that does away with subsidized smartphone pricing.
T-Mobile finally gets to join in on the iPhone fun
While T-Mobile did support unlocked iPhones on its network, subscribers were limited to slower wireless data connection speeds and couldn't take advantage of Visual Voicemail like AT&T and Verizon customers.
"This is an important day for people who love their iPhone but can't stand the pain other carriers put them through to own one," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a statement. "We feel their pain. I've felt the pain. So we're rewriting the rules of wireless to provide a radically simple, affordable iPhone 5 experience — on an extremely powerful network."
T-Mobile's Uncarrier plans let customers buy an iPhone without an annual service contract, which may make their deals more appealing to potential customers. Dropping subsidies in favor of rolling the total phone cost into monthly payments, however, may keep some people away since the notion of paying full price for a smartphone isn't something most consumers are familiar with.
The company is offering iPhone owners unlimited talk time for $50 a month, and 2GB of data for $10 a month or unlimited data for $20 a month. T-Mobile will beat AT&T and Verizon to the HD Voice market, giving iPhone users access to a feature their smartphone supports but so far hasn't been available.
Assuming consumers go for the full price iPhone deal, T-Mobile will be in a position to offer customers a competitive option compared to other carriers with its Uncarrier deals and lack of a traditional two year contract, which could back up government concerns that AT&T's failed attempt to buy the company would've had a negative impact on market competition.
AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile in 2011 in a move that would've made it the single largest cell service provider in the United States. The proposed US$39 billion deal quickly drew criticism from the Department of Justice, FCC, Verizon, and Sprint. In the end, the resistance to the buyout was enough to make AT&T walk away from the deal.
Along with its welcome iPhone announcement, T-Mobile also said it started offering LTE coverage in Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington DC on Tuesday. The company said it expects to expand its LTE coverage to include 100 million people by the middle of the year, and 200 million across the country before 2014.
The carrier will also offer the iPhone 4S for $69.99 down with $20 a month payments, and the iPhone 4 at $14.99 with $20 a month payments.
With T-Mobile finally set to compete with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the iPhone market we could be looking at a new game where consumers finance their smartphones outright instead of making up the subsidized price over mandatory two year contracts. If not, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint could leave T-Mobile in their dust.
[This article has been updated with information about AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile]