By now you have probably all heard about T-Mobile’s new plan to save the world from overages and contracts. It’s actually a pretty neat idea, but as usual the details are in the execution of that idea and therein lies the issue.
I’m very conversational with my writing so you will have to bare with me here. I’m the type of dude that feels that if something seems too good to be true… I investigate it. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished my investigation and it wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t all good either. I’m not going to talk about friends, family, framily plans because the idea of sharing a small and very finite amount of data is absurd. It causes fights and stress and who wants that? Let them get their own damn phone. My father’s favorite line was “Get a job…”
The meat of the new T-Mobile offering is you are getting a no contract situation. Because you are not under a contract with them it does a few things. 1) It encourages them to treat you well, so you will stay. 2) Gives you the freedom to go to another provider on a whim.
As with most providers there are certain people that will benefit quite a bit from this offering and there are others that will want to take a pass. Also (like most providers, with the exception of Sprint) their “Unlimited” plan means jack. It’s a lie. I’m not sure when it became acceptable to use the word “Unlimited” in association with a limit, but someone somewhere started it and no one sued them and it caught on. Sprint gets major points for having an unlimited plan that really means it. But we aren’t talking about Sprint we are talking about T-Mobile and they only kinda mean it.
The reason I say it is a lie is because they woooooo you in with the “We are the fastest 4G LTE Network in the US” and then they throw around the term unlimited data. Then you get the plan, use it, and realize after a few months that around week 2 you are crawling when you get on the web. That’s because when they say “UNLIMITED DATA” they mean “DATA” not speed. So it is a bit of a bait n switch (except it is legal because it is buried in fine print, and mentioned if you ask about it). If you ask a salesman about it you will either get the truth, along with a statement about how 5GB (the actual limit in which all things go south and you get put on 2g speed) is a huge amount of data, and you can send 200,000 emails, and 40,000 pictures, and listen to 20,000 songs and blah blah… That’s great unless you want to watch the last episode of Walking Dead on the train home from work, and maybe a couple of other shows a few days later… now you’ve hit your limit. You can still check your e-mail if you want to wait long enough to have to shave again. That is not unlimited. Unlimited is a very specific word that has a particular condentation. The abuse of the language is not appreciated, it is a borderline scam and I don’t know why the public puts up with it.
Anyway I’ve ranted long enough about data. Sprint has unlimited data and awful customer service, not to mention a bulldog collection team that will not let up if you get behind (I googled them and it seems people hate them for that). Apparently you are “One Big Happy Framily” until you lose your job for two months and then you are were really just the red-headed step child and kicked to the curb. LOL (I don’t know I just read some things and they aren’t pretty and there are too many of those “things” for it to be a one time or some time occurrence.)
So I decided to give T-Mobile sales a call and talk to them a little about the plan. I asked about the iPhone 5s (because a lot of people are clearly buying them) and he said yah, we can get you setup for 10 bucks (which is the SIM kit cost) and what happens is this:
You finance your phone through them so you pay like 27 bucks for 2 years (for the iPhone 5s 16gb version). Then you have your plan (separately), those plans range from $50-$70 depending on the data plan you want (500 megs for the 50, “Unlimited” for the $70: READ 5GB of data and then you crawl like a child molester caught by a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers group wielding Golf Clubs and Hammers.) They make it look like you are only paying for the plan too which is kind of sleezy (on their website, go and pick the phone and the get to the data plan part, to the right in a huge font it says Selected Plan $70 per month and then in a smaller font it says “Plus taxes, fees, and monthly device payment” (which you may not be familiar with the program at this point so confusion is created and then… you end up getting your first bill which is ACTUALLY a bit over $100 and you are like… “DAMN I could have just stayed with AT&T for that…”)
That said… T-Mobile is still kind of the best game in town right now. I’m a journalist in Chicago and I can tell you that they are are not even close in speed to AT&T or Verizon. In Fact, I have personally tested all four networks in the Chicagoland area with a group of others and in Chicagoland AT&T is the king of LTE speed. When I say KING it should be capitalized because they came in regularly at 65 mbit down and 22 out. Verizon was at 32 mbit down and 17 out, T-Mobile was at 14 mbit down and 3 out, and Sprint was at 8mbit down and 3 out. (These are averages)
However, after about 5 mbit unless you are streaming video, while you are downloading your mail and updating 15 apps at the same time it really doesn’t matter. You can stream 720p video with 5mbit and have change left for other background data. It’s still really nice tho and if you are sending video to youtube, that up speed is oooh so nice.
STILL T-Mobile is still kind of the best game in town price wise… IF you are someone that will bring your own phone (or buy it outright), and can live with 500mb, 2.5GB or 5GB. I’ll tell you why… NONE of those plans have data overages. I’d rather get throttled and crawl then get hit with an unexpected overage for $200 because I let my kid brother use my phone for a day and when I got it back it burned my hand. If you can live with it, 50-70 bucks isn’t that bad.
MOREOVER – T-Mobile has the best attitude when it comes to bootloaders being unlocked, jailbreaking, etc… They sell devices that can be unlocked and moved to other carriers. That’s important, because when a company is asking $1000 for a top shelf phone it is an investment. I don’t want to lose that or be held hostage because of a provider. In addition, because they can be unlocked it is easier to root them and remove all the extra programs that these service providers put on your phone that you can’t uninstall. Why is that important? Is your phone slow? Was it fast when you got it and now it’s slow as heck? You can thank a lot of that bloat ware. Most people reset their phone, wipe everything… it’s fast for awhile and then goes back to slow again. You get sick of it after awhile and what do you do… (Upgrade and sign a new contract… wow…. it’s almost like that was planned right?) So rooting your phone and unlocking it is GOOD, it lets you remove the bloat ware. The bloat ware that can have memory leaks that cause your phone to be slow over time, making you reboot it and reset it just to have some speed back…
NO CONTRACTS FOR T-MOBILE:
T-Mobile – “No Contracts” but if you leave they won’t finance your device anymore so you have to pay for it in full. (Sounds just like a… contract to me). You pick your phone or bring your own. You can buy the phone you pick out right or they will finance it to you for 2 years (Just like a contract). I was actually on the phone with the T-Mobile Sales guy who said the vast majority of T-Mobile’s Customers buy their phones outright when I suggested that the financing smelled just like a contract. (I almost spit my drink out when he said that because THAT WAS A LIE). Sales people are sleazy everywhere though, not all sales people, but they are there doesn’t matter what company or what product it is part of the game.
I’d give their current offering a solid 4 stars (out of 5) right now.
Anyway in closing I’ll throw in a brief over view of the 4 major carriers offerings so you can see a comparative (For iPhone 5s 16gb, Not including Tax):
T-Mobile: $648 or Finance Plan: $70 (with Unlimited Data)+$27 x 24 months (if you finance) – no contract (Unless you finance, because if you leave you have to pay in full)
SPRINT: $650 or $199 Subsidy Plan: 2 Year Contract $80 with Unlimited Plan
Verizon Wireless: $649.99 or $199 Subsidy Plan or Verizon Edge ($27.15 for 24 months u get 1 upgrade year, this is in addition to plan): $110.00 for 4GB (they do not have an “Unlimited” Plan)
AT&T: $649 or 199.99 Subsidy Plan: 2 Year Contract $110 with 4 GB of Data (No Unlimited Plan). They have a $100 credit with new line activation right now and they wave activation if you sign a 2 yr.
As to call quality and coverage – AT&T is hands down the best world wide you can expect the call quality and the ability to actually make a call to be above any other offering. Verizon is next from a national level, then T-Mobile and Sprint in that order.