Update on T-Mobile’s Service and the Cheapest iPhone Plan
T-Mobile has, with quite some fanfare, released its new and improved plans for (1) the iPhone 5 available for its network and (2) its expansion of the 1900-MHz band for its cellular service on the iPhone 5.
With my current iPhone 5 and cut sim, this is of particular interest and I have had some inquiries how and whether this works with what I have posted before.
In Summary: It’s all good. The cheapo iPhone is faster than ever and cheaper than anything on the market.
Update Number One: the expanded HSPA+ service on the 1900 MHz band
For the last few months, T-Moblie has updated and expanded its 1900MHz band coverage. You can see a map of this here. Originally, this did not excite me, as I have the unlocked iPhone 5 sold directly from Apple. The unlocked iPhone 5 model is, according to the Apple website, the model A1428. And according to the classifications on the Apple website, that model only supports the 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz) LTE band supports – in other words no 1900MHz band support (that is reserved for the model A1429).
This is curious. Since the iPhone 5 A1428 is ostensibly not designed to work with the 1900MHz frequency, there are two possibilities here:
(1) T-Mobile’s HSPA+ technology, despite what it claims, is not working on the 1900MHz frequency, or
(2) Apple is bullshitting us when it states that the iPhone 5 A1428 does not support the 1900MHz frequency; it simply locked the option by software until now.
Personally my money is on the latter.
The really important question is now… how fast is this new HSPA+ service from T-Mobile on the ultra-cheapo iPhone 5?
The simple answer is… pretty damn fast.
The below is a speedtest I took on the 4G HSPA+
Compare that to the wifi I get in my local starbucks:
In other words… If you’re sitting at starbucks, you’re better off tethering the internet through your phone than to use the local wifi connection.
Update Number Two: T-Mobile’s new unlocked iPhone 5 and its price plan
Now the second question is whether the unlocked iPhone 5 from T-Mobile with its nano sim is cheaper in the final analysis than the unlocked iPhone 5 from Apple with a cut down sim. The answer is… it is ostensibly cheaper but it’s far pricier than my current plan.
The handset alone costs $99 + $20 per month for 24 months. This comes out at a pretty cool $559, far below the $650 for which it is available at Apple, and even cheaper than the the pay-in-full at T-Mobile for $579. See below: from the T-Mobile website:
However the story does not end there. T-Mobile does not allow you to check out with just the phone. One must next choose one of three possible plans. The cheapest costs $50 per month… and provides virtually the same functionality that the $30 per month plan provides. See for yourself:
T-Mobile in-store iPhone 5 $50 plan:
T-Mobile has taken the buy-online-cut-down-to-size-sim $30 plan off its website, however the sim option is still available on Walmart:
Baal only knows how long this offer will exist. I’ll stick to mine for as long as I can.
Compared to the $80 / month plans which AT&T, Sprint and Verizon bring to the table, T-Mobile’s $50 per month plan together with the 20$ per month for the phone, the price point comes out at $1,709 – still better than AT&T’s $2,119 but still above my $1,370:
Overall, the iPhone 5 deal from T-Mobile is a real improvement over AT&T & Co’s price notions. The best course of action would probably to get a cheap unlocked iPhone 5 from T-Mobile, get rid of the sim / $50 dataplan immediately and then instal a cut down sim as I explained. I would love to hear from others who have done so.