After years of waiting, T-Mobile customers can finally get their hands on an Apple iPhone 5 as the carrier will begin supporting and selling the phone on its network on Friday.
As announced at its “Uncarrier” event in New York City in March, T-Mobile will sell the iPhone 5 on its new “Simple Choice Plan” starting at just $99 up front for 16 GB – with options to purchase 32 GB of space for $199 or 64 GB for $299 – plus $50 per month for unlimited talk, text and Web with 500 MB of 4G data.
Even though the iPhone 5 has been available since September, users in the market for a new smartphone may want to consider purchasing an iPhone 5 from T-Mobile, and here are three reasons why.
1. Incredible trade-in deals: Two days prior to the phone’s release date, T-Mobile announced on Wednesday that it would release the iPhone 5 with a special trade-in offer for current iPhone owners, as they can trade in their iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to receive a 16-GB iPhone 5 for $0 down plus monthly payments, and no annual service contract. Depending on the device’s trade-in value, customers that switch to T-Mobile can also receive a credit worth up to $120, which can be used to pay monthly payments on the iPhone 5, or even existing T-Mobile bills or other accessories sold by the carrier.
T-Mobile’s iPhone 5 trade-in offer lasts until June 16 (Father’s Day), which means users have about two months to make the switch and still take advantage of the deal.
2. Individual plans are big money savers: Compared to a typical two-year plan from AT&T, T-Mobile boasts that iPhone 5 owners would pay $1,000 less for their phones by switching to their network. An independent report from Zagg’s Mike Beauchamp conflicted with T-Mobile’s statement, finding that iPhone 5 plans involving two or more people (e.g. families) do not save any money from switching to T-Mobile, but did indeed confirm that switching is a huge money saver for individuals.
For example, individuals that purchase a 16 GB iPhone 5 and own it for two years will pay $2,839.99 if the phone’s purchased through AT&T, Verizon Wireless or Sprint, but T-Mobile customers would only pay $2,259.99 during that same time frame – a total savings of $580.
Unfortunately, the huge savings with T-Mobile ends at individual plans. As the Verge points out, a plan with two people costs customers $3,999.98 over two years on either AT&T or Verizon Wireless, while T-Mobile charges $4,039.99 over the same span for unlimited data and 500 MB of hotspot data; Sprint charges an exorbitant $5,439.50 for unlimited data but no hotspot. In other words, customers can save $40 by choosing AT&T or Verizon Wireless instead of T-Mobile.
For families of four, T-Mobile customers pay $500 more than comparable plans offered by AT&T or Verizon Wireless, even though the latter plans don’t include unlimited data. Sprint customers get the raw end of the deal again; compared to $6,139.96 paid over two years by AT&T and Verizon customers and $6,639.96 paid by T-Mobile customers, Sprint customers pay a whopping $10,639 during that same span.
3. HD Voice: Though most carriers don’t support the technology, Apple released its iPhone 5 in September with experimental support for HD voice, which uses an expanded frequency range to pick up more important aspects of the human voice, making calls seem less fragmented and more natural and clear.
Even though Sprint has embraced HD voice, offering the feature in the HTC Evo 4G LTE, T-Mobile will be the first carrier to support HD Voice in the iPhone 5. In its hands-on with the feature, Gizmodo was able to confirm “significantly reduced background noise” and crystal clear phone calls when calling another T-Mobile iPhone 5 with HD Voice.
“You know how sometimes cell-to-cell voice calls can sound a little fragmented? Like little bits of sounds are being dropped? This didn't have that,” Gizmodo’s Brent Rose reported. “It was a much more natural sounded call. It was a bit richer, and definitely fuller. I wouldn't say it was like night and day, but it's definitely a noticeable improvement. I then used the same iPhone to call an HTC One on AT&T and it sounded, y'know, like a typical cell call. It was very slightly broken up, and definitely didn't have as much dynamic range.”
While HD Voice isn’t revolutionary– wideband technology is still in development – it’s enough of an improvement to be a big factor in choosing the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile, particularly for any users that prefer calling over texting.
T-Mobile customers who purchase the iPhone 5 also receive a number of “premium benefits” in addition to HD Voice, including 500 MB of 4G data for hotspot tethering, the ability to talk and surf the Web at the same time without limits.
“These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club,” Legere said at T-Mobile’s Uncarrier event last month. “This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts, limits on how much data you can use or when you can upgrade, and monthly bills that make little sense. As America’s Un-carrier, we are changing all of that and bringing common sense to wireless.”