T-Mobile Promoting Its Unlimited Plans for Unlocked iPhones

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T-Mobile is the US's fourth largest carrier and it doesn't sell the iPhone, but a new advertising campaign is dedicated to telling customers that iPhones will work on its network. In a new "Unlocked & Unlimited" promotion, T-Mobile is wooing owners of off-contract, unlocked iPhones to get them to bring their device and take advantage of its unlimited data plans.

T-Mobile Unlocked & Unlimited poster

Suzanne Lowry, T-Mobile's vice president of marketing, announced Monday that starting September 12 (yes, the same day as Apple's media event where the next iPhone is expected to be revealed), her company will begin a new campaign to help owners of unlocked iPhones make the transfer to the T-Mobile network.

In addition to new store displays and an ad campaign, each store will have an iPhone 4S demo unit and staff will be trained to assist customers in setting up their device on the network. T-Mobile is also working on iOS apps such as T-Mobile myAccount, T-Mobile Visual Voicemail, and T-Mobile TV to add value and service to iPhone using customers.

T-Mobile offers unlimited talk/text/data plans for individuals starting at US$89.99 per month. Both AT&T and Verizon are phasing out unlimited data options for their customers.

AT&T's unlimited talk plan for an individual starts at US$69.99, but then requires and additional unlimited text plan for US$20 and a not unlimited data plan ranging from US$20-50. Verizon offers an individual plan for $40 access plus $60-100 for unlimited talk and text, but with data capped anywhere from 2GB to 10GB. T-Mobile wins on simplicity alone, as well as being the least expensive alternative.

T-Mobile claims that its network reaches 96% of all Americans and is fast becoming 4G (HSPA+) serviced although that changeover is not yet complete. The company said that it has "recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T's network," but that information hasn't been independently confirmed. The current iPhone 4S can take advantage of that network, but earlier editions can not.

It should be noted that iPhones from Verizon and Sprint networks will not work on T-Mobile's network due to differing network configurations. Only former AT&T phones can take advantage of this promotion.

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It would appear there's more than one way to be an iPhone carrier. This strategy has worked effectively in China, where China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, doesn't offer the iPhone. That hasn't stopped millions of China Mobile customers from buying grey market devices and using them on China Mobile, even though they are limited to 2G EDGE connection speeds for data when doing so.

T-Mobile customers can take advantage of 3G speeds, and it will be interesting to see if this campaign succeeds in bringing new customers to the network. AT&T has a vocal segment of its customers who actively complain about service on that network, something T-Mobile could be counting on.

Lastly, we'll note that T-Mobile could find iPhone customers to be even more profitable than Apple's actual U.S. partners (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint). Those partners are paying the industry's steepest subsidies, as much as $400 per device. T-Mobile isn't paying those subsidies, however, as the only people who would move their iPhones are AT&T customers who are out of contract, or people who bought their iPhone 4S used.

That makes each new iPhone customer a cash cow for T-Mobile.

(Spin by Bryan Chaffin)



Reason #287 why I don’t recommend people get a phone on contract. Yes, it’s more up front but in the long run with a contract you end up paying for your “free” or “subsidized” phone several times over.  Buy it outright and see who will give you the best deal. You’ll spend a lot less overall. This deal from T-Mobile is just icing on the cake.


Julie,  I just got off the phone w tech support at t-mobil, they do not have any information yet on this, my question is will this work on the Unlock Iphone 4 and 4s ( will you be able to get 3G on the network} also the Iphone 4s that you get from Verizon is a word (dual cdma and gsm) iphone that is lock to verizon, if you unlock it can it be use in the Tmobil net work?

Julie Kuehl

Not surprised that the info hasn’t trickled down yet. My understanding is that it will only work with an AT&T iPhone 4S. Not the iPhone 4. And not the Verizon iPhones.

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