Sony announced the Xperia Z1s at CES earlier this month, and it quickly showed up on T-Mobile's website. So Americans looking to just own the handset have had a week to order one online from the carrier, while those wanting a deeper relationship with the device - to love it for what's on the inside, rather than the outside - have had to wait a little longer. But now their opportunity has come as well.
T-Mobile is doing a lot of unconventional things for the mobile industry, and now it's branching out to banking as well. The carrier has announced a new service called Mobile Money that works like any number of other online banks. You set up the account, deposit your checks through an app, and use a Visa debit card to spend. As for the fees, most of them are waived for T-Mobile customers.
T-Mobile seems to be making waves in the industry as of late. Not even two weeks after the magenta carrier announced it would be paying customers' ETFs, Verizon is experimenting with a 30 day upgrade cycle on its Edge plan. However, it's not a free lunch – there is some fine print to contend with.
Verizon Edge is similar to all the early upgrade programs introduced in the last year like Jump (Tmo) and Next (AT&T).
The new Xperia Z1s on T-Mobile is almost identical to the international Z1, except for the radio bands and some software tweaks. One thing that definitely isn't the same is the bootloader – it appears that T-Mobile has requested Sony not allow bootloader unlocks on this device. For a company trying to upend the traditional carrier model, this is awfully old-fashioned carrier behavior.
If you're too impatient to wait for Samsung to get Android 4.4 to your carrier variant of the Galaxy Note 3 (or if you're just tired of TouchWiz), the indefatigable boys and girls of CyanogenMod are here to help. They've just released the first nightly builds of CM 11 (KitKat) for Samsung's plus-sized flagship, with support for the international LTE model (N9005), plus Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint versions.
As it happens, Samsung just started sending out the official 4.4 update for the N9005 earlier this week, so those of you who are on the unlocked version of the phone might want to go for the TouchWiz build of KitKat instead.
In between pointed jabs at the other national carriers, T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced the carrier's newest "Un-carrier" plan. As the rumors indicated, T-Mobile is going to pay the early termination fees (ETF) when customers switch to T-Mobile from Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon. Sounds great, but there are a few caveats.
Sony has two new phones to announce here at CES in Las Vegas: one specifically for the purple people over at T-Mobile, and one meant to appease users who want a premium phone without the bulk. The Xperia Z1s is T-Mobile's branded variant of the slightly older Xperia Z1. Aside from the extra letter and doubled storage, it's identical to Sony's international flagship. The Xperia Z1 Compact is a smaller 4.3" phone that keeps most of the premium features.
Update: AT&T, welcome to the party.
At the LG CES press conference the company let loose some welcome news for the American market: their unique G Flex smartphone will be coming to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint carriers at some point this year. (Sorry, Verizon customers, looks like you're last one out again.) If you'll recall, the G Flex is LG's high-end flexible, curved-display phone announced late last year. T-Mobile has confirmed that they will carry the G Flex in a separate press release.