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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).

Accordingly I was somewhat surprised when my phone last Thursday appeared to be using a 4G network. See below:
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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+

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Compare that to the wifi I get in my local starbucks:

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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:

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 19.00.48

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:

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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:

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 19.12.34 Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 19.12.42

Baal only knows how long this offer will exist. I’ll stick to mine for as long as I can.

Price comparison

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:

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 19.17.43

Conclusion

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.

Why the Season 2 Finale of Homeland is both Awesome and a Cop-out

Homeland

Homeland has been all the craze for the last year or two. For good reason – I loved it despite and because the speed of the story development from episode to episode has been utterly glacial. The very slow development from one episode to another makes this the perfect show for lovers of cliffhangers.

But leaving that aside, I both loved the last season 2 episode and abhorred it. What I loved:

  1. The twist of how the hunter becomes the hunted. It turns the mechanic of the entire show around. Carrie vs Brody (which in season 2 became Carrie and the system vs Brody and then Carrie, the system and Brody vs the terrorists) is now the system vs Carrie and Brody (what about the terrorists?).
  2. How all the open loops were tied up neatly. The main villain is dead. Carrie and Brody live happily ever after in her cabin. The assassin’s hit on Brody is called off (by the assassin no less!). Mike and Brody’s family can move in together at last.

However the big explosion at the CIA is a cop-out. Why? Because it does not fit thematically with the rest of the show… at all. The entire show is built around a cat-and-mouse game of the good guys vs the bad guys. The CIA and Carrie (and on occasion Brody) are always a step behind the terrorists (and on occasion Brody). They never have the full picture, but they have some information. They are always close on the heels of the terrorists.

The explosion at the CIA was never hinted at. They had no information about it. But it was necessary to propel the story onward onto the new track of the Brody-manhunt. Without it, the series could have ended there, and it would have been fine.

In other words…. the attack on the CIA is a use of deus ex machina. (Note that this does not mean literally “A god from the machine” in the sense of intelligent machines or the like. It refers to Greek plays in which, when the protagonist is faced with an unsolvable situation, that situation is resolved with a contrived and somewhat alien intervention from outside the established play universe. In other words, by the use of an act of god. Which in ancient Greek times required a type of machine to make possible.)

The fact that the attack on the CIA was completely unforeseen can of course be chalked up to lacking intelligence efforts. Shit happens, and even the most sophisticated intelligence agency might overlook not just hints but an entire attack. Except… that has not been established in the Homeland universe. In the show that we have been watching, the CIA always has some idea of what has been going on. As the film critic HULK has pointed out, a plot hole is “when there is a crucial gap or inconsistency in a storyline (as presented) that prevents the proper functioning of the plot or central characterization (as presented)”. The “clueless” CIA caught with their pants down is a clear inconsistency with the established normality of the CIA being hot on the terrorists’ toes at all times.