24
Mar
tmothumb

The rumors were true and now T-Mobile has launched its new, simplified, contract-free plans. Starting at $50/month for unlimited talk and text with 500MB of high-speed data (throttled, but sans overage fees after that), the new services allow customers to forget about counting minutes and messages and focus solely on data. This could be good or bad news, depending on your usage, but perhaps the most important aspect of these new plans is that you can get them without a 2-year commitment.

2013-03-24_14h15_14 2013-03-24_14h15_21

You can select to get the new plans with or without a new device (which some carriers will allow you to do already), but if you do decide you want to buy a phone from T-Mobile, you'll have two tabs: 'Monthly Payments' or 'One Payment'. If you select the former, you'll see the subsidized cost of your phone and a scaled recurring charge for your device. The Galaxy S III, for example, has a $20/month charge, while the HTC One S has a $15/month fee. This, coupled with your down payment (the traditionally 'subsidized' price) will equal the total cost of the phone. If you select 'One Payment' option, you can elect to pay all of that at once. In other words, whether you pay it all up front or over the life of your contract, you know exactly how much you're spending on your phone, when, and why. And you don't pay more for the device just because you sign a contract. It's less of a vague subsidy and more of an optional monthly finance plan, only without interest.

Having this aspect of your plan distinctly separated out, and unlimited talk and text bundled in no matter what happens, you have only one concern left: data. As stated before, the plans start at $50 for 500MB. After you cross that threshold, your speeds will be dropped to 2G. For those who don't remember the dark ages, that's deplorably slow. On the upside, tethering is included. Not that you'll want to tether a laptop to a connection with such a low cap, but T-Mobile is at least making the consumer-friendly choice of not forcing you to pay more just to use a capped amount of data on a different device. The option is yours.

If you want more than that, though, you have two diverging options. The first is to select a capped data plan that has tethering built in. Every tier costs $10 more than the last one. So, 2GB costs $60/month, 4GB is $70/month and so on all the way up to 12GB for $110 per month. For comparison's sake, Sprint costs $110 for unlimited everything, but charges extra for tethering. AT&T's 3GB DataPro with unlimited talk and text costs $120/mo, does not include tethering, and every 1GB over costs $10. Meanwhile, Verizon offers a 2GB shared data plan for $100/month. Obviously this is not a comprehensive overview of all the plans on the different carriers (we haven't even looked at AT&T's shared data, nor any family plans), but comparing apples to apples, T-Mobile seems to be very competitively priced.

If you absolutely don't want a data cap no matter what, though, you can opt for unlimited high speed data, which will tack an extra $20 charge on top of the base $50 plan. The total $70/month plan is the same price as the 4GB package, but lacks tethering, so you should really only get it if you know you'll use more than 4GB every month. You can add tethering to an unlimited plan as a separate package, but you'll start facing slow downs if you share too much data with other devices. Tethering options start at $10/month for 2GB (a total of 2.5GB shareable), so at this point you're already looking at $80. You'll want to take a close look at how much data you truly need before opting for the unlimited plan and buying tethering separately.

Of course, this is ignoring the possibility of, say, buying a Nexus 4 off contract with tethering built-in (or...ahem...other methods of getting the add-on), but the overall takeaway is that T-Mobile is providing options and, in a shocking move for a carrier (even this one), it simplifies the consumer's decisions and offers fairly reasonable rates.

Of course, the trade-off is that T-Mobile still has yet to get its LTE network up and running (though, it's close) and the coverage is not all that great. Hopefully the MetroPCS merger will help it out. As that deal draws closer, while Sprint and Softbank dance ever nearer to each other each other, the challenges to the incumbent nigh-duopoly have never been greater. Here's hoping this trend of being consumer-friendly keeps up, though.

Source: T-Mobile

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    So you pay $549.99 up front and then continue to pay $70 monthly? damn... in UK you get the phone free and pay way less and have everything unlimited.

    • xmiro

      nope
      You pay the phone down payment then up to $20 per month for 24 months or bring your own phone

      It's $50 for unlimited talk, text and 500MB data then you can add unlimited smartphone data for $20, or start with 2GB increments whenever you wish for $10 each and no overage fees

      • Freak4Dell

        You can also choose to do what Sebastian said, so he's not wrong.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      How much data do you get for those UK plans? How many minutes or texts?

      • Freak4Dell

        They say unlimited, which is generally true of the minutes and texting, but many companies have a fair use policy on the data. Additionally, many still are using the method of in-network calls and texts, which is ancient to us in the US. Also, I've never seen a phone for free with a cheap plan. The free phones typically require a 35-40 pound plan, which is basically around the same as what we pay, once you do the conversions.

        For people with low usage, though, the prepaid plans over there are awesome. When I was there, I paid 5 pounds a month for like 100 minutes or a few thousand texts. That's like $8 or so. 500mb of data was another 5 pounds, and that amount was plenty for me to stream music while walking to campus and back. They claimed it would be throttled afterwards, but the couple of times I did go over, I didn't notice any speed decreases. Then I got smart and just bought the 6 month package, which was 20 pounds (rougly $35). That lasted me until I left, so I only topped up again when I needed more minutes or texts.

        • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

          Three doesn't have a fair usage policy.
          Here is the cheapest option to have unlimited internet and this is on Pay as you go, so you can stop this at any time.

          All-you-can-eat data
          300 minutes
          3000 texts
          £15

          • Freak4Dell

            I tried 3 because of the prices. It was terrible. If I could get a signal at all, it still wasn't strong enough to give me reliable data. And that that time, they had some stupid rule about giving a 30 day notice to port your number. I wanted to port my number back over to TMoUK, but I was so desperate to be done with 3's service that I just left my number behind and got a new number with TMoUK.

          • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

            same i could say about Vodafone, except i'm stuck on a 2 year contract with 2G signal -_- pathetic

          • Nickan Fayyazi

            Yeah, I remember seeing that a few days ago. You guys are lucky.

          • Taskman

            70$ is not that bad to pay for unlimited everything but that should include the phone imo. And I'm speaking the high-end mobiles.
            Last April I bought a plan which includes unlimited calls, texts and MMS to all networks in Sweden and 10GB of data (HSPA+) per month for about 55USD and that included an Galaxy S3 as well. Sure the S3 came a bit later as it was delayed but still. That is on a 24m contract and nothing extra gets paid for the mobile or to open the contract.

  • http://twitter.com/s99nj S. Ali

    Roll out that LTE and this is the best cell plan in the U.S.

    • CoolCustomer

      Currently in progress in select cities.

    • Bob G

      I'd rather NOT have LTE and have better coverage. Having LTE won't help you if you can't get a signal.

      • Matthew Fry

        Unless, of course, they switch to VoLTE (voice over LTE). Then LTE is all that matters.

        • l3db3tt3r

          Location, location, location.. LTE here is actually slower then the h+

  • Justin

    I bought m nexus 4 off ebay and brought it into tmobile.I'm on the 70 month unlimited voice sms 4g prepaI just used the tethering so tmobile would bright me to buy it separately and now I pay 85/month prepaid for unlimited everything with no throttle and tethering. I use about 50GB month.

  • MattEden

    I already have unlimited text and unlimited(5GB...) data for $30 a month these plans don't seem to be that worthwhile honestly....

    • Adam

      I'm trying to figure out if that plan still exists, since I'm planning on switching to it soon and can't find it. Very scared!

      • MattEden

        I just signed up for it less than 2 months ago so it should and considering how popular it is around the Android world I would imagine it would have made some news if they decided to axe it.

        • Adam

          It was available as of a few days ago, even - but looking at their website now, I can't find it anywhere. There are some links that are leading to error pages, so maybe they're not done updating it yet, but it doesn't look good.

          • Adam

            I did just find one reference to it, but the webpage still doesn't seem to be working right so I don't know if it's supposed to be there. I guess I'll just wait to see what develops.

      • http://twitter.com/yuusharo Jason Fiore

        It's still there over on the prepaid site, though for how much longer I'm not sure. There's no mention of hotspot on that page, but I see the $60 plan has been upgraded to the same 2.5gb as the value-plan. They removed hotspot from that page before, but it was still available as a $15 add-on.

        I've been using the $30 plan for a couple months on a Nexus 4 and it's been amazing. Even if it went away, I wouldn't mind the $70 per month unlimited plan. That's still way less than I was paying for Verizon, and my coverage has been on par with Verizon where I live, if not better in some parts.

      • Nickan Fayyazi

        It still exists, just not on their website.

      • CoolCustomer

        It exists but some reps on other forums are saying they won't be advertising it anymore so you have to go in and request it by name.

    • Freak4Dell

      That's an unbeatable plan if you only need 100 minutes, but a lot of us need more than that. Also, having multiple prepaid plans is more expensive than having a postpaid family plan. Plus, I like the benefits of postpaid, like roaming and tower priority and such.

      • JP

        Tower priority? Is that true?
        But for the rest of the problems: Talkatone App to use G.Voice. || Pay the overage of 10c a minute. || Use StraightTalk's $45 prepaid unlimited mins/text/web(2GB). With StraightTalk, depending on your phone, it will use T-mo/AT&T/Verizon towers.

        I'm w/ T-mo's $30/mo. No signal issues here in Los Angeles, but my HSPA+ is only ~2Mb down (though that my myTouch 4G Slide with CM9 ICS might have to do something about that)

        • Freak4Dell

          Yeah, most prepaids get lower priority on the towers. It's only fair, since postpaid users pay a lot more.

          I've tried VoIP services. The data networks (none of them) are even close to reliable enough to make that a good solution. Verizon will probably get there first when they're done blanketing the country in LTE, but AT&T and T-Mobile have a long way to go. I'm not yet broke enough to try and suffer through using VoIP on my cell phone.

          • andy_o

            Yeah, most prepaids get lower priority on the towers.

            Can you cite a reliable source? I've read some comments on the internet, but there's no compelling evidence that prepaid accounts have any lower priority. There's even an allotment of some roaming for the pre-paid plans, including the $30 one, see here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=38990786#post38990786

      • duse

        "Also, having multiple prepaid plans is more expensive than having a postpaid family plan."

        How do you figure? 4 smartphones and 8 GB of shared data at Verizon is $250/month. Even 6 GB is only $10 less. 4 Straight Talk accounts is $180.

        This is exactly why we should all be disappointed that Google Voice doesn't have native, high quality VoIP. Most of my long phone calls happen at home, and minutes just simply shouldn't be a concern when I have fast WiFi available. With this option I bet a lot of people would be fine with 100 minutes/month for the times when they can't use VoIP.

        Recently, even the smaller players like Sprint and T-Mobile have been jacking up prices. $80/month at T-Mobile for a 2 GB plan + phone is better than Verizon, but still not great pricing. The pre-paid/sub-$50/month market needs to strengthen, you know, like how it is in the rest of the world.

        • Freak4Dell

          Well, true, but I was comparing to more reasonably priced carriers. I'm on T-Mobile's Value Plan, and my bill is $105 per month for four lines. Granted, I don't have unlimited minutes on all of them, and I don't have unlimited data on any of them. I don't need it, so there's no point in paying for it. That's $75 less than 4 Straight Talk plans. If I take the new plan and load it up with unlimited data for everyone, it's still only $180. For the same price, I'd rather be on postpaid. I also get a corporate discount on postpaid, so that $180 would be closer to $150, whereas with prepaid, it would actually be $180. Sprint would be around $175 for me after the discount. The flexibility is what really makes it great for most families, though. I mean, I guess with everybody buying their 6 year olds tablets and stuff, maybe they're buying them unlimited data plans, too, but at least a few years ago, people were limiting what their kids could have. That saves the family money and keeps the kids from having services they don't necessarily need at their age. And of course, there's the simplicity of having one bill and not having to remember to top up multiple accounts or have set up multiple auto-debits.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

          the rest of the world doesnt have the coverage the USA does. especially in more rural areas. People need to stop thinking everything in life should be $20. You want things faster and faster and broader coverage but you dont want to pay for it. Idiots

          • duse

            I'm sorry but you're making excuses. Yes there is more land to cover in the US, no that does not justify $100/month for service. Tech prices fall over time, maybe in wireless there is a spectrum crunch but in wired bandwidth is cheap, period. Just look at US policy vs. the rest of the world, it's abundantly clear our prices only are what they are because we lack forced line sharing and any notions of a competitive landscape. In no universe or market does it make sense to have one or two providers in an area of ANYTHING with as little regulation as there is for internet: you either have real competition (most markets), or little competition with heavy regulation (utilities). Even in FiOS markets, they collude with cable to keep prices artificially high. Why make excuses for them?

          • Freak4Dell

            I agree with your general point, but having FiOS in my area has actually forced the prices of cable to drop, and the speeds to increase. They're all hovering in the $80-100 price range right now for the three service packages. It's just sad that Verizon stopped expanding it. Maybe Google will become the new fiber competitor.

          • http://twitter.com/TeaRex13 Terrel Thompson

            i work with FIOS and they never stop expanding it they are currently working on new territory now, i actually have some leads that are going live on monday in new york. they are just making sure where they put it is cost efficient.

          • PopeFrancis

            I was going to plus one this until you called people names :)

          • Dipish

            I tried T-Mobile in Tennessee rural areas and in some places I had NO COVERAGE AT ALL. That was shocking tbh.

            And trust me, high demand and healthy competition CAN make things like decent home Internet and cellular service $20/month each. Sadly, it's not the case with USA.

          • Matthew Fry

            Keep an ear open for when the MetroPCS/T-Mobile completes. MetroPCS kind of owns the midwest (at least in Iowa they do) and this will make T-Mobile a lot more worthwhile in those areas.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Mcintier/1146574107 Sean Mcintier

            Western Europe is completely covered by 3G, so no, you don't know what you're talking about. The US has some of the most overpriced cell service in the world

        • Serge

          Why do you need Google for every service? Skype provides pretty good VoIP.

          • duse

            1. Skype VoIP to landlines is not free, Google Voice (with VoIP via Google Talk) is free domestically and super cheap internationally.
            2. Skype would use a different number that I'd have to give out to people, Google Voice is my main number that people already have.
            3. Skype has always had a shit Android app, if Google built in native VoIP into Voice then it would obviously be native in Android as well.

          • Serge

            Google Voice is only free because Google is footing the bill, Skype is not that expensive. #2 is a fair point, however most phones are able to store many phones numbers per each contact so it's not a big problem. Skype app works OK on Nexus 4.

            In general I agree with you, Google VoIP would be sweet, but I'm afraid Google does not want to piss off the carriers, so don't hold your breath waiting.

          • duse

            Yeah, I'm with you on that, I'm not expecting this to happen. I was just expressing my frustration with the fact that in this day and age, we should all be able to make calls seamlessly over our home internet (whether for a small fee or not), so that 100 minute cell plans could be a viable option. Instead, "calls" are locked into the world of "cell plans," even though every other form of communication is not, forcing people to pay hundreds to the big telcos for something that should really just be a commodity service over a data pipe. That is the other good thing about Google Voice, that it gives you SMS for free over data as well. People might say, who cares, SMS is included and unlimited with all the cell plans now anyway. But do they realize that when they made that move, they also jacked the prices of everything to the levels that it used to cost to include unlimited SMS? So nothing was really saved, all they did was remove the option for you to opt out of SMS to save money. It is for this reason that all the major carrier options are now shams, they force you to pay high costs for services (unlimited calls and SMS) that you either don't need, or that should be treated just like any other data. So at least with cheap(er) pre-paid, you are able to save costs and be free of a contract. A good VoIP solution would provide you with even more flexibility in your choice of plans.

            Google may kill Voice, and I bet a lot of people will shrug and say who cares, it wasn't really needed. All of these people are missing the huge, glaring problems in the picture that could easily be solved by Google, or some other company, furthering the idea of Voice. I bet if you told people, you could have free calls over WiFi, free unlimited SMS from every device and PC you own, and 100 cell minutes to use while you're out with 5 GB of data for 30 bucks a month, they would all jump on it and say hell yes. Those same people would probably just shrug if Google axed Voice. So Google is missing an opportunity here by not building the service and marketing it to the masses, and it's a real shame. It doesn't even need to be free, they could turn it into a business model similar to Skype if necessary. I and many others would still love the service and independence from traditional cell plans that it provides.

          • andy_o

            Because GV can integrate with Android in a way no other VoIP can, and also offers much better features. It really is severely underdeveloped for what it could be.

    • ChrisC.

      I FOUND IT! The plan still exists. It's now called Pay In Advance. Just click on a phone and "Learn More". View all 4G plans and bam! 100 minutes w/ unlimited web+text. Thx T-Mo.

  • Freak4Dell

    I think you meant to type "traditional 'subsidized' price". The down payment is typically what you would pay for the phone if it were subsidized, not what you would pay if it were unsubsidized.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      You're right. Thanks. Fixed.

  • prewt

    In france, with "Free" for 26$ you got contractless unlimited calls, texts and 3GiB data (cool). 4G is coming but we're far from nationwide access (don't care but why not). The Samsung Galaxy S3 for 670$ or 167.5/mo for 4 month (not cool). :)

  • Walt Kowalski

    I have a unlocked Iphone that I got a year back at the Apple store in Covent Garden London for around $750 USD. While living in the UK/EU I paid around $50 / month for unlimited data and phone at TMO.

    Back in the US the same data/phone coverage is $100+ / mo from pretty much all of the major carriers even when you bring your own phone.

    You have to ask why are data/phone plans 2X as expensive in the US as compared to UK and EU? Are the cell phone towers / equiptment / labor / regulation / what-have-you more expensive in the US?

    • xmiro

      Tmo UK doesn't have to cover nearly every single member of of EU to have a "national" network

    • Freak4Dell

      Two reasons:

      1. The country itself is just bigger than a lot of countries in the EU, so putting up a network is a costly venture.

      2. Until very recently, almost 100% of our phone purchases were through a subsidy system. The carrier sells the phone for very cheap (or just gives it out for free) in exchange for a 2 year contract. Obviously, nobody is in the business of giving out free things, so the carrier must recoup their costs. They do this by charging higher prices for the plan. Because this system is so popular, it's rare to get any discount for bringing your own phone. T-Mobile is the only major carrier to give you a discount for bringing your own phone or buying it for full price from them, and that only started in the last few years. If this catches on, we can expect prices to start going down.

    • Nickan Fayyazi

      On T-Mobile, it's $70, not $100.

  • Tony Clifton

    Bring your own phone to an MVNO like starighttalk and you can get unlimited data/phone for around $50 / month in the US. Not sure why the large carriers offer their data/phone plans through a 3rd party for 50% less but they do.

    • Freak4Dell

      They're not the same plans. Most prepaid plans do not include off-network roaming. Most have a hidden cap. Straight Talk's cap is somewhere between 2 and 3GB. Most don't get the same priority on towers as postpaid users do, so your speeds can be drastically slower than someone on the same network with a postpaid plan.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's not unlimited HSPA+ or even 3G data. They'll knock your speeds down hard.

    • Kcls

      This. I'm on straight talk, $45 a month, unlimited everything. Sure, it's not TRULY unlimited data, but it suits my needs (I rarely go over 3gb). I average 7-8mbps as well, and while that may not be fast for some, I was on Virgin Mobile before that and averaged, on a good day, 200-300kbps. And I was on T-Mobile for a short time as well and I only got reception in the far back corner of my room and for a short time on the bus ride to school. I haven't been without reception AT ALL on straight talk.

  • PopeFrancis

    Looking at available prepaid plans from within my-tmobile, It appears that it has the $50, $60, and $70 plans that are essentially the same as the new postpaid plans. Does this mean that tower priority is a thing of the past with their prepaid or will that continue to be the same? I don't understand the need to have the same exact plans for pre and post paid when they are both off contract. You would think at this point that those who prepay are less of a liability to them now and would get priority ;)

    • http://jmdsdf.yi.org John Stephenson

      Postpay has more features, roaming with more carriers, pay for the month you're in--instead of ahead, family plans, equipment contracts, corp discounts, etc. Prepay will always be second-class (except for that $30 deal!).

      • http://www.facebook.com/ilya.goussev Ilya Goussev

        T-Mo is actually Bill-in-advance on post-paid. Any overages (International, premium services, etc.) will show on your following bill.

        • http://jmdsdf.yi.org John Stephenson

          Postpaid, for new regular accounts, bills for the cycle you are in--not in advance.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ilya.goussev Ilya Goussev

            Right, my wording was terrible there. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Snoopy

    Woah so does this mean if we get a base plan and simply pay up front completely for the phone already, we can cease the plan after a month or so and have just the phone at a really cheaper price than an unlocked international one? Presumable like a Note 2?

    • Serge

      T-mobile's Note 2 full price is $680. Is unlocked international version more expensive?

  • dobbsy

    I'm in Toronto, Canada and have a Note II with Mobilicity. I pay $22.50 per month for unlimited *everything*--data, talk, text--including North America-wide long distance.

    • http://profiles.google.com/superg05.jeremy Jeremy Washington

      i just looked at the plans not seeing it sir you underestimate the power of the Google
      unless you where saying minus data

      http://mobilicity.ca/plans/

      • dobbsy

        Most of the three smaller companies in Canada (Mobilicity, Public, Wind) offer 50% off plans once or twice a year. Right now Mobilicity has this:

        http://mobilicity.ca/promotions/great-winter-warm-event/

        which is pretty close to my plan.

      • dobbsy

        Could have sworn I responded to this but it's not showing. Public, Mobilicity, and Wind all have various promotions at different times of the year. Here's a similar plan to what I have for $25:

        http://mobilicity.ca/promotions/spring-savings/

        Mine also has long distance included and voicemail.Mine is supposed to be $45 but at the time I signed up, it was half price (they do this every Christmas, it seems) and stays half price as long as they have a valid credit card on file.

  • DaynaPM

    My contract is up and i wanted to upgrade my phone and sign a new contract, do i have to pay for the phone n its entirety ? Or can i do it the "Oldfashion way" and pay the upgrade discount price and sign contract?

  • Sailor Golden

    Glad I'm with T-Mobile :-)

  • topgun966

    Overpriced out the gate. You can get anyone of the MVNO's for under 50 a month with the same provisions.

    • http://profiles.google.com/superg05.jeremy Jeremy Washington

      the phone to?

  • faceless128

    contacted my mom, she's about to save $30/mo

  • Matthew Fry

    "optional monthly finance plan, only without interest." This is a big deal and why I went with the subsidy-free option they offered 6 months ago and was recommended by the T-Mobile rep. With subsidized plans you usually finish paying off the phone within ~18 months into your 2 year contract. The rest is pure profit for the carrier. This interest free financing is really a breath of fresh air in the consumer-unfriendly telecommunications industry.

  • http://twitter.com/chong678 Philip Chong

    I like T-mobile as a pricing leader! Even though it is own by foreign company. I hope AT&T die and burn. Shame on AT&T!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Eric5689 Eric Payne

    So am I incorrect in saying that you are basically just in a contract with TMo until/unless you are completely done paying in full for the device IF you choose the monthly installments deal just not in a 2 year contract no matter what?

    • Freak4Dell

      You can end service any time, and you can just pay the balance on the phone. Whether they'll let you still just pay monthly for the phone, I'm not sure. It's probably a "pay it all or go to collections" deal.

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    That unlimited plan for $70 is alright, but if you use it as a base for a family plan, it becomes truly amazing. 2 lines is $130, 3 is $150 and 4 is $180. So if you have four lines on that plan, it's $45/mo for unlimited everything, no caps. How amazing is that?