T-Mobile Finally gets the iPhone on April 12

| Analysis

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 funT-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]

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Comments

Terrin

It is articles like this that may scare customers away from T-Mobile’s plans because the articles fail to fully explain the plans in a meaningful way. For instance, every one of these new plans come with unlimited data, voice, and text. yes, even the $50 dollar a month plan. Where the plans differentiate is in how much high speed data one is given. The $50 a month plan comes with 50MB of 4G data, then a subscriber is dropped down to 3G. For $60 a month, you are given 2GBs of 4G data, before dropping down to unlimited 3G data. With almost all the plans, including the $50 a month plan, you can use your phone’s internet to provide access to your other devices. Further, none of the plans have a contract.

The same plan without limited data and without the hotspot capacities and with a contract cost $130 a month on AT&T. If you go to AT&T, you will pay $199 on top of your monthly fees to acquire a 16GB iPhone 5. On T-Mobile, you pay a total of $499 for a phone that from Apple direct costs $649. T-Mobile, however, will let you pay $99 down, give you a zero interest loan, and allow you to pay the rest in $20 a month installments for 20 months. After the phone is paid off the plan drops back down to the price without the loan.

With the $20 a month loan, you can get an unlimited plan on T-Mobile for $70 a month. AT&T would charge you $130. Assuming coverage is good in your area, the math is a no brainer.

Terrin

That should have said 500MB of 4G data.

Winski

Jeff… You may have left an important detail out of your piece…

It seems that the EXISTING iPhone 5 WILL NOT SUPPORT T-MUMBLE’S EXISTING HIGH SPEED 1700-based network. Hardware is not compatible… This is a monster HOSE JOB.!!!!!

vpndev

And I guess that the changed hardware is only for iPhone 5, and not 4S. So even though T-Mob will sell you a 4S, it won’t work very fast. Or is there something more in the announcement ?

Terrin

vpndev:

The 4S on T-Mobile will be fine for people who surf the web, read email, and stream music. 3G will work on the 4S, and I currently do all those things on T-Mobile using 3G.

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