T-Mobile: iPhone Off to a Great Start

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T-Mobile officially started selling and supporting Apple's iPhone on Friday, and Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said sales were "gangbusters." The carrier is the last of the major cell phone service companies to land an iPhone deal and was hoping its "Uncarrier" package that does away with subsidized phone prices and complicated service contracts would draw in new subscribers.

T-Mobile iPhone launch goes "Today has been gangbusters for T-Mobile," Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert told AllThingsD. "We experienced lines out the door this morning at nearly all of our almost 3,000 stores nationwide."

iPhone launches are known for their long lines, but this one didn't include a brand new phone model. Instead, T-Mobile kicked off its iPhone service with the iPhone 5, which has already been available through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and several regional carriers for about six months.

T-Mobile is offering the iPhone 5 for US$99.99 down, and 24 payments of $20 instead of subsidizing the phone's cost. Once customers pay off their iPhone, the monthly bill they pay drops by $20. The deal also drops traditional two-year contracts in favor of month-to-month service with unlimited talk time, and 2GB of data for $60. For $70 a month, customers can have unlimited voice and unlimited data.

Lines for T-Mobile's iPhone didn't, however, last all day, so by afternoon customers could walk into the carrier's stores and pick up their new phone without much of a wait.

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Offering the iPhone through T-Mobile gives customers yet another carrier choice. Assuming the company's "Uncarrier" plan takes off, it could help push competitors into offering similar no-contract, no-subsidy deals, too.

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I’m not sure if I’m understanding the difference between signing a contract that has a cancellation fee and not signing a contract and paying an extra twenty bucks a month to make up the discounted price of the phone. With one if you leave the carrier you


With one if you leave the carrier before the contract ends you pay a fee. With the other if you leave the carrier before you’ve paid off the monthly phone installment I assume the charge you for what you have left. What’s the difference?


You could just buy the phone out right and not have that phone fee at all, making your monthly bill 20 dollars cheaper and not have to pay anything if you leave the carrier.


When you sign a contract the carrier


If you buy a new smartphone every two years (or less) then TMobile’s plan will likely not save much if anything. Holding onto a phone with TMobile for three or more years can be a better deal because once you pay off the phone the monthly bill will be less. The other carriers that require a contract will still be charging the full subsidized monthly rate for however long you keep a phone beyond the two year contract.


Greg, you need to compare the actual payments that you make. What I like about T-Mobile’s offer is that it is more honest; you buy a phone and pay for it over 24 months (same as everywhere else), but they actually tell you and don’t pretend you get an iPhone for $99. What I also like is that unlike other companies, they don’t continue charging you for your phone when you already paid for it, so you don’t get ripped off. But what you need to compare is the actual cost, and they seem to be just cheaper than others.



T-Mobile’s method is better for a variety of reasons. The first is of course cost. The easiest way to see this is to compare similar AT&T and T-Mobile plans. An unlimited everything plan on T-Mobile starts at $50. With that you get unlimited voice, texting, and data. High speed 4G data is slowed down to 3 and 2 G after 500 MBs. Raise that up to 2.5 GB of 4G data for ten dollars more. Add a line with the same features for 20 a month more.

Go to AT&T’s website and for unlimited voice, unlimited texting, and 3 GB of data, which is not unlimited, you will pay $129 a month (unless you have some kind of discount). You can make the plan cheaper by getting rid of unlimited voice, and texting but if you want to come close to matching T-Mobile’s features, that is what you will pay (without discounts).

So if I want a 16 GB iPhone 5 on T-Mobile I will pay $99 down whereas on AT&T it will be $199 down. If I select the cheapest T-Mobile unlimited plan, with the $20 a month iPhone payment, I am at $70 a month for what will cost you about $129 on AT&T.

Moreover, T-Mobile seems to be giving you the phone at its wholesale cost because it is undercutting Apple’s resale price by $70.

My ex-girlfriend went to T-Mobile Friday and picked up an iPhone 5. She was easily getting over 20 mbs download speeds.

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