T-Mobile finally lands the iPhone: available April 12, $99 upfront

By , Mar 26, 2013

T-Mobile iPhone 5

As expected, T-Mobile USA announced at its “Uncarrier” event in New York that it’s finally become the official distributor of the iPhone, six years after Apple announced its game-changing smartphone. The company will start offering the iconic device April 12 and has confirmed it’ll work on its LTE network, which also formally launched on Tuesday. The iPhone 5, of course, also supports T-Mobile’s speedy HSPA+ covering 225 million people in 229 metropolitan areas.

Unlike AT&T, Verizon and Sprint – or most of the world’s carriers for that matter – the Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless telco will sell Apple’s device contract-free, tapping its previously mulled monthly installments in another uncharacteristic industry practice. “We’re canceling our membership to the Wireless Carrier Club,” CEO John Legere quipped at the presser.

Specifically, per T-Mobile’s press release, you’ll be paying $99.99 upfront to get an entry-level 16GB iPhone 5, without ever having to put your signature on a two-year service contract. The rest of the device’s unsubsidized price will be recovered through installment plans requiring you to drop an additional $20 over the next 24 months.

Quickly, do the math in your head: under these terms, the iPhone 5 will set you back $580 in total, a nice $69 saving over the unlocked $649 iPhone 5 on Apple’s web store…

“T-Mobile is the only major U.S. wireless company to offer iPhone 5 with no annual service contract plus unlimited talk, text and Web on a screaming-fast nationwide 4G network,” the press release reads. “And because there are no annual contracts, customers make the decision when to upgrade their devices – not the carrier.”

I like this quote attributed to T-Mobile’s CEO:

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. 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.

Under the new sales model, the entry-level iPhone 4S is also now available from T-Mobile for an upfront fee of $70, plus $20 per month for 24 months for a total hardware cost of $550.

Likewise, the iPhone 4 will set you back just $15 in upfront payment at the time of purchase, with a $15 monthly payment for the next 24 months, resulting in a total hardware cost of $375.

T-Mobile will start accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 5 on April 5 through its web site.

T-Mobile (iPhone coming soon teaser)

Now, Apple sells the contract-free iPhone 4 for $450 and the iPhone 4S for $549. Therefore, the former is a $75 cheaper at T-Mobile. Interestingly enough, the difference between Apple’s and T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone 4S is a meager $1.

I know what you must be wondering and here’s your answer: every T-Mobile device (the iPhone included) remain locked to the carrier’s network until it’s fully paid for through monthly installments, at which point T-Mobile will unlock it so you can take it to another carrier, if you like.

The new “Un-carrier” page on T-Mobile’s web site highlights the devices, the new Simple Choice Plan and T-Mobile’s LTE network. The Simple Choice Plan includes unlimited talk, text and 500MB of data for $50 a month.

T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan

Upgrades include unlimited data (an extra $20),  a second line (an extra $30, or $10 a month for each additional line) and more. T-Mobile’s LTE will let you talk and surf the web at the same time, it’s been confirmed.

Some of the benefits of the Simple Choice Plan:

• HD Voice – delivering nationwide crystal-clear high-definition calling and significantly reduced background noise. T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier offering nationwide HD Voice for iPhone 5.
• T-Mobile Smartphone Mobile HotSpot for on-the-go tethering Internet access. Through Simple Choice, T-Mobile offers an additional 500MB of 4G data for tethering, enabling customers to tether from their iPads, Macs and other devices.
• Talk and surf at the same time — without limits. Through T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan, customers can opt for totally unlimited 4G data on a nationwide network, something no other major U.S. wireless company offers for iPhone 5.

T-Mobile’s new fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network is now officially live in seven major U.S. cities: Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington DC. T-Mobile’s 4G LTE complements its 3G HSPA+ for a seamless nationwide experience.

The carrier’s roll-out plan calls for a hundred million LTE customers by mid-2013 and 200 million people nationwide by year’s end. Go here to learn more about T-Mobile’s 4G network, including coverage map.

T-Mobile SimplE Choice Plans

“We have the only network that can deliver nationwide HD Voice on iPhone 5,” the company (rightfully) bragged. HD Voice, or Wideband Audio, is a network/device feature that uses additional bandwidth to extend the frequency range of audio signals from 300Hz-3.4kHz to 50Hz-7Khz, enabling a more natural sounding voice (the human voice is between 80Hz and 14kHz).

iPhone 5 keynote (wideband audio slide)

And as T-Mobile put an end to the decades-long practice of long-term wireless contracts, a media release explains the new “Un-carrier” attitude:

The moves include radically simplifying its lineup of consumer rate plans to one incredibly affordable plan for unlimited talk, text and web; ensuring that customers never have to sign another annual service contract through T-Mobile retail outlets; and enabling customers to get the most popular smartphones whenever they want for the lowest upfront cost. T-Mobile also debuted its blazing fast 4G LTE network service in seven major metropolitan areas.

They conveniently launched a new television commercial to re-brand the company around the “Un-carrier” tagline.

“T-Mobile has decided to stop acting like other wireless carriers who restrict people from getting what they want,” the video’s description reads.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes clip.

A few noteworthy tweets from T-Mobile.

 

 

These sure strike the nerve.

You’ll be seeing more of the same a lot in the coming days as T-Mobile amps up its nationwide advertising. The company will certainly gain the momentum and rival telcos are no doubt already running their spreadsheets to figure out whether or not T-Mobile’s newfound business model has legs.

So, what do you think?

Has T-Mobile successfully re-innovated itself as a carrier?

And is the “Un-carrier” initiative going to force AT&T, Verizon and Sprint into loosening their tight terms?

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  • seyss

    “finally lands”. people have been using iPhone on T-mobile for years

    • felixtaf

      Official distributor now….

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      unofficially. t-mobile only now has become the official distributor of the iphone in the us. but I’m sure you knew that already.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      YEAH BUT NOT TO ITS FULL LTE POTENTIAL AND WITH SKETCHY VOICE MAIL SERVICE..

      • therealjjohnson

        whats sketchy about their voice mail? Wait…people still use voice mail?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tommy.latsch Tommy Latsch

    Even though there won’t be a contract does this mean youll still have to pay the “device fee” if you pay for service or not?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380073379 Quang Truong

      your service is $60 (unlimited talk, text, 2.5GB with tethering). If you want to buy a phone, $100 upfront, and $20 monthly payment for 24 months = $80/month

      • Trieu Dang

        so can we just pay $99 for the phone and $20 for T-mob each month, and then use another career instead?

  • Jerry

    are their any tmobile LTE vs ATT LTE speeds documentations yet?

    • http://twitter.com/thundiyils Jacob S

      Take this as a documentation lol; t-mob LTE=AT&T 3G because t-mob 4G was less than AT&T 2G, they do false advertisement about their coverage. According reports San Jose is one of their LTE enabled city, I would wait and watch, within last year I tried them twice well within (according to t-mob) their fully fledged 4G coverage area and I got merely 2G speed and ended with dropped calls.

      • Jerry

        LOL! damn..I guess i’ll stick with att until tmobile gets their act together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    DUDE pout on a pink hat and left his buddies behind to go live a different life..lol what a mess

  • ap3604

    Well… looks like I’m going with T-Mobile :D

    Not only do you get to upgrade any time you want, but you also pay less on hardware AND wireless service.

    I can’t help but support a company that would be nice to customers (unlike greedy A$&$, $print, and Veri$on).

    $60/mo for unlimited talk, text + 2.5 gigs of data and free tethering? SOLD!

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      yeah that is a great deal

    • Kaptivator

      There has to be a catch with the upgrading. Just saying…If a person buys a phone for 99 then they add on 20.00 for 24 months to the bill, can they pay off the installment early to upgrade? Or, are they stuck until the 24 months expire and then just stop being billed for the phone? How can you upgrade anytime if you still owe for the phone that you are using and they will not unlock it until you are finished paying? I could not find any of this info…Or maybe I overlooked it.

      • Jerry

        im pretty sure you’ll be able to to pay the phone off early. don’t see why not

    • Viktor_Zweig

      56$ per month plus tax on Canadian Fido network: everything unlimited (including VVM & int’l sms) with 2 Gb LTE data.
      Just sayin’!

    • http://twitter.com/brmmr Bren Miranda

      Pay less on hardware? Not at all. You’re paying $579 for the iPhone on T-Mobile, rather than the $199 on AT&T and the latter. The wireless service, however, is exponentially cheaper.

      • http://twitter.com/thundiyils Jacob S

        really? then re-do the math and see if you can save any money compared to greedy AT&T :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/CerenaMWalker Cerena Walker

        your paying full price for the phone just not a lot up front…

    • http://www.facebook.com/CerenaMWalker Cerena Walker

      tmobile does not get great service constant issues with them..ive had them for 6+ years and their customer service has went down big time and they dont care about their customers anymore..

      • Victoria Vanslambrouck

        actually I have had them in the Bay Area for about 2 years and they are fantastic here, I do a lot of traveling and they never gave me any problems… I can’t wait to get my iPhone 5 next week!! The customer service is like any other company sometimes you get the best employee they have or you might just get the bad seed… one step at a time!!

  • Ernie Marin

    yeah…let’s see how long that bubble will last.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.dennery Jason Dennery

    Seems like it’s really only worth it if you have a device already.

    Do they do anything to buy out a potential customer’s existing contract?

    I would gladly switch from AT&T if they did.

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    Ok, so Lemme get this straight… My wife and I could each get a line and unlimited data for $100 per month? We pay $155 a month with AT&T. What is the coverage? Any good?

    • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

      I live in Oregon and I have great coverage….unless of course, you go to the wilderness, then you have to toss the phone in the air to catch service.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tukangojeks Muhammad Yulfiano Gerwynaldo

      $50 is not unlimited but its 500mb.. If u want unlimited its $70
      Next line isnt $50 but $30
      add $20 for unlimited..
      therefore 2 unlimited data iphones should cost
      70+ 50= $120

  • Stanley Traub

    Nah. Crappy service and terrible lte rollout. Verizon will always be my trusty carrier. In sf i always get 30 mbps on my note 2 so there is no way i will be switching anytime soon

  • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

    what is to stop someone from buying an iPhone for $99, and reselling it, since there’s no contract to pay?
    just the fact that anyone else can buy one for the same price?

    • sakh87

      They would still have to pay the remainder of the phone price to t-mobile monthly. The customer isn’t done by just paying $99. I am sure T-mobile has thought about that and would have something setup so that your payments would have to be made even if you cancel your service.

      • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

        I haven’t found anything. From the looks of it, I could buy an iPhone 5 for $99, pay for a month of service, and cancel, since there’s no contract.
        Of course if I start service again, I’ll start paying for the phone again, but it looks like this is a way to get a cheap iphone if travelling over seas or wanting a different carrier.

      • sakh87

        T-mo will be charging you monthly until you pay off the phone. They look at your credit before giving you the phone on monthly installments. Otherwise it’s your credit you are risking. Till then, the phone stays locked to their network, I am sure there would be a way to unlock the handset yourself.

      • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

        You’re not risking your credit because you didn’t sign a contract. That’s what i’m trying to figure out. You’re under no obligation to make monthly payments, it’s month-to-month, just like the iPad data plans.

  • http://twitter.com/craigkeller Craig Keller

    If their coverage was better around here I would switch away from Straight Talk to show my support for this model. I’d end up paying $30 more per month than I am now, but I honestly would given the benefits it provides the average user.

  • Cgmgto

    Goodbye AT&T ! Me and my 3 iPhone family plan will be at T-Mobile shortly.

  • Realest Killaz

    Will they allow you to pay for the whole phone or you got to pay $20 a month?

  • Adrian12369

    So would I be able to get the iPhone 5, without a plan, and just pay $100 up front and $20 monthly? Then get a different, prepaid plan from t mobile?

  • Shan

    What if we already have an iPhone 5, get it unlocked, and switch over? Would we get LTE on it also or 3G?

  • http://twitter.com/HiTekkSteff Stephaughn Alston

    Is this subject to credit approval?

  • http://www.halosystechnologies.com/ Saurabh Saxena

    Good news and one thing i wanna ask, When the iPhone 5S/6 comes out, will tmobile get it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.madden.54 Jamie Madden

    I have been with tmobile for going on 4yrs. All I can say is I love this phone company… my bill has never changed… great service… and peole that work n the store r amazingly nice… never had a problem… was with sprint be4 tmobile well sprint made tmobile look like gods is all I can say… will b a tmobile costumer for many years to come… thanks tmobile :)