With its new plans, T-Mobile just became the carrier to beat

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T-Mobile’s new no-contract pricing plans just went into effect this morning, and if they are successful as I predict they’ll be, then I truly believe that other carriers will have to do some serious soul-searching. Before I explain why, let’s look at the plans T-Mobile is offering:

  • Individual plans (all include unlimited talk and text):
    • 500MB (includes tethering) – $50.00
    • 2.5GB (includes tethering) – $60.00
    • Unlimited smartphone data with 500MB included tethering – $70.00
      • Customers can purchase additional tethering data for the unlimited plan in 2GB increments for $10.00
  • Family plans (all include unlimited talk and text for two lines; additional lines cost $10):
    • 500MB per line (includes tethering) – $80.00 total
    • 2.5GB per line (includes tethering) – $100.00 total
    • Unlimited smartphone data with 500MB included tethering – $120.00 total
      • Customers can purchase additional tethering data for the unlimited plan in 2GB increments for $10.00

Here’s why I think other carriers might have to start worrying, and maybe even rethinking their own plans.

T-Mobile’s new plans are incredibly simple, and there’s no chance of overages.

With T-Mobile, customers no longer have to worry about buckets of minutes or texts. There are no more gimmicks, either, like the “unlimited any mobile” plans that Sprint pioneered, the rollover minutes that AT&T has, or the calling circles that were popular a few years ago. Customers simply select how much data they want, and there’s no chance of any overages – if they go over their data allotment, customers will simply get throttled.

T-Mobile is finally being honest and transparent about phone subsidies.

Traditional cell phone plans are so expensive, precisely because it’s costing carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint a huge chunk of change to subsidize smartphones every year. And with smartphones increasing in popularity, carriers’ costs to subsidize them is definitely on the rise.

T-Mobile wants to change that, and is being honest with customers about how much these fancy phones actually cost in reality. Rather than hiding that cost in a more expensive monthly plan, T-Mobile is allowing customers to pay a small amount up front, and the rest of cost in monthly installments, interest free, over the span of a couple years. Sure, this isn’t a new concept to T-Mobile, but it’s obviously popular enough with customers for T-Mobile to make this the only option available going forward. And even though some may scoff at paying full price for anything, this has several advantages:

  1. Customers end up paying less over two years.
  2. Customers aren’t locked in by a contract – they can pay off the phone and move on at any time they want. Most of the time, the remaining cost of the phone will be less than traditional early termination fees.
  3. With the LG Nexus 4, Google and LG proved that it was possible to create a smartphone that people want – with high-end specs – at a full price that’s not much higher than a subsidized price. And with parts costs decreasing, many speculate that phones with even higher specs will soon cost less than $200 unsubsidized. When this happens, T-Mobile’s low-cost no-contract plans make even more sense.

Basically, it’s a win-win for both sides: T-Mobile will no longer have the huge cost of phone subsidies on its shoulders, and can instead use that money to maintain and upgrade its network. And customers will end up spending less in the long run.

T-Mobile’s network is actually really good, even though it’s still very small.

At 42Mbps, T-Mobile HSPA+ network is by far the fastest 3G network in the entire United States. And even though T-Mobile’s footprint is small, and many areas are still on EDGE, it’s hard to deny that – at least in majorly populated areas – T-Mobile has the network to beat. As T-Mobile works on upgrading the rest of its EDGE towers, refarming its 1900MHz spectrum, and launching its new LTE network, the network is only going to get better.

And let’s be honest here: how often do most people really find themselves in an area that only gets EDGE service?


I’ve outlined some of the reasons why I think T-Mobile just might become the network to beat, but I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Why am I right, or what did I get dead wrong? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss!

As a Sprint customer going on three  years, I’ve watched as the network has crumbled around me, as promises of WiMAX faded away, and as LTE is still nowhere in my near future. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has blanketed my town in 42Mbps goodness. T-Mobile is looking better and better to me everyday.

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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15 thoughts on “With its new plans, T-Mobile just became the carrier to beat

  • LTE… need the speed.

    As much as the Nexus 4 wants us to believe 4G is the fastest, LTE is just blazing fast and I won’t go back! :)

    • Yeah, but T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is as fast or faster than LTE in many reputable speed tests. And it’s also building out LTE – plus it will soon get a lot of help with that, plus a significant coverage boost, as soon as the Metro PCS merger goes through.

      Plus, I personally don’t see a need for anything much over 10 megs down on my phone – and I say that knowing T-Mobile is oftentimes double or even triple that in 42Mpbs areas.

    • Avatar of Aaron Orquia

      I’ve used plenty of LTE Verizon devices, and personally I can say I don’t miss LTE at all on the Nexus 4. Sure, it is technically faster, but here in Atlanta HSPA+ is fast enough that it doesn’t really make a difference in most use. And since T-Mobile is so much cheaper than Verizon, the choice for me is simple.

  • That’s my plan after sprint!

  • Avatar of Samy Farrow

    I’ve got about a year or so left on Sprint, and if at the end they’re not gone down in price or anything I think I’ll be leaving. I have been seeing LTE being thrown up here in Raleigh/Cary, NC. Yay!

  • Avatar of Leighton

    I switched from Samsung Galaxy SIII on Verizon to Nexus 4 on T-mobile pre-paid. The HSPA+ is more than fast enough for my mobile use. As long as I’m streaming music at high quality, I’m good. If downloads take a few moments longer, that’s fine by me.

  • Avatar of Justin Murray

    Looking forward to TMobile completing its roll out of 1900MHz HSPA+.

  • Avatar of JRDemaskus

    If I am reading this correctly, then that would be almost half of what I pay now with ATT. Save aprox. $2400 over 2 yrs.
    But if an average device costs $650 x 4 = $2600
    Yea, my current device is more than 2 yrs old, and there are cheaper or more expensive devices to buy.
    It still looks like I break even.
    I would be less likely to buy such high end devices though. And then the market starts to die off as the try to release cheaper devices to keep us buying.
    Honestly, the carrier subsidy is what keeps me in high end toys.

    • Device prices are going down, down, down though… while subsidized prices seem to be going up: remember when most phones were free, or under $100? Then the EVO came along, and the average subsidized price when up to $199. Then the Note came along, and subsidized prices went up to $299. But wait – $299 is the price of a Nexus 4, off contract, unsubsidized!

      Let’s see where phone prices go in the next 1-2 years… I expect we’ll get some pleasant surprises from the next Nexus phone, along with the upcoming Google/Moto phones…

      • Avatar of JRDemaskus

        I am seeing math from people who know how to do math.
        It looks like T-Mobile might actually be a better bet.
        Based solely on the fact that the financed phone payments have an end, 2 yrs. Then you just pay for service.
        VS. paying the same price Wether you get a new device or not.
        Technically, I am losing money by not buying a new device with ATT.
        Learn something new every day.

      • Avatar of JRDemaskus

        So really, what is the build quality on that LG Nexus 4?

  • The new Family plan with 2 lines will cost me $10 MORE per month than the old plan. Before, if you brought your own phone, I could get 1000 minutes and 2 GB’s of fast data for $89. Now it’s $100 for unlimited talk and text with 2.5 GB fast data. Sounds nice but we never use over 700 minutes of talk per month so now I get stuck paying more for something I don’t use.

  • Avatar of Marvin the Martian

    They are still on EDGE here in upstate NY.

  • Avatar of William Devereux

    I like AT&T and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, but T-Mobile’s new plans are sure enticing.

  • In the UK T-Mobile (now trading as EE) has a deal that is truly amazing. SIM only, unlimited calls, unlimited text, unlimited data at a cost of 16GBP that is 24USD per month !!!


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