How T-Mobile iPhone Plans Compare To AT&T & Verizon

T-Mobile today started accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 5, as part of their new contract-free wireless plans. The T-Mobile plans require you pay for the phone over a span of 2 years and requires a down payment. In the case of the 16GB iPhone 5, that’s $99, with a $20 monthy payment for 24 months. The total outlay is $579, not including your wireless charges. If at any time you decide to leave T-Mobile, you are still responsible for the cost of the iPhone, but they will at that point unlock the phone.

T-Mobile iPhone plans compared

For an individual plan, the first line costs $50 for unlimited talk, text and 500MB of high-speed data. That last number is woefully insufficient, suggesting that most customers will pay an additional $10 for 2GB of data, so a net cost of $60 per month for unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data. To go unlimited data, it’s $20 additional, or $70 per month.

T-Mobile iPhone plans

When you bundle this with the cost of the iPhone, it breaks out to $80 for the 2GB option or $90 for the unlimited plan. Both seem very competitive. Carriers make it increasingly difficult to compare plans, since they all offer different options. Wouldn’t it be great if there were standardized plans across all carriers, so consumers could easily make their purchase decisions. AT&T offers a 3GB data plan for $30. They break out their voice and messaging into two different services. Unlimited voice will set you back $69.99. Unlimited messaging is $20. An AT&T plan with unlimited calling, text and 3GB of data is $119.99. Your initial outlay for the 16GB iPhone is $199.99. Your 2 year cost for wireless service (not including assorted taxes, fees and activation charges) breaks out to $2879, combined with the $199 for the iPhone and you are in for $3078. The comparable T-Mobile plan is $99 plus $80X24 for a total cost of $2019. Granted, you are getting 2GB of data vs 3GB data, but the savings is over $1000.

AT&T iPhone plans

Verizon uses a similar pricing structure as AT&T, whereby the iPhone 5 is also heavily subsidized by your wireless agreement. Verizon plans require a monthly line access, which is before any talk, text or voice add-ons. For individuals, it’s $40 for the iPhone. A comparable 2GB data plan, with unlimited talk and text is priced at $60 for a total of $100 per month. This is in direct comparison to the T-Mobile offering of $80. Let’s see how this breaks out over the span of 24 months. Verizon will cost $2400 for the plan, plus $199.99 for the iPhone, totaling $2599.99. The comparable T-Mobile plan is $2019, so it’s roughly a $600 savings.

Verizon iPhone plans

T-Mobile’s CEO used plenty of brash language and a circus like atmosphere to introduce the company’s new uncarrier plans. In reality, customers are faced with the choice of an iPhone subsidized by a 2-year wireless contract vs a 2-year payment plan for the hardware. The latter gives you the freedom to leave, but in actuality, you can leave Verizon or AT&T early by paying an ETF. We’ll leave the math of that equation for another article or perhaps a lengthy discussion in our forums. T-Mobile plans will no doubt save you money, but the elephant in the room is service. T-Mobile offers support for HD Voice, something not currently available on the others. Both Verizon and AT&T have the advantage of wide-reaching LTE data networks, with T-Mobile offering support in just a few cities. That will take time for them to rollout and data speeds are important.

T-Mobile plans cost less, offer an easy out, but your overall experience will be dictated by the service available in your area. Are you making the switch to T-Mobile?

  • http://gravatar.com/mdjgcl Mark

    As a snowbird who spends the winter in Florida and summers in Canada, T Mobile is the only USA based carrier that I know of to offer nano SIMs for our two unlocked iPhone 5s which we bring south with us from Canada for the winter. Unlimited calling and texts with 500 MB of data for $50/month plus tax. Not the best price for what we get but it is the ONLY option for anyone coming into the USA temporarily and looking to avoid the costly roaming charges associated with operating their unlocked iPhone using their home country plan while in the USA.

    All North American mobile telephone companies are woefully inadequate when compared to what is available in Europe and Asia as far as acquiring local SIM cards is concerned. We spent a month in the UK last year and paid a paltry $12 for a UK SIM card for each of our iPhones and another $12 for a third SIM card for my 3G iPad 2 which came with 4 GB of data for the month we were there and included a personal hotspot too! Why does it have to be so difficult over here?

    • Larry

      Because it is the American way. Come up with a great invention, and charge the h..l out of it by controlling the access. Similar to the way oil companies gouge the American public. Follow the money and profits.

  • Stephen

    I’m on AT&T and have their 10gb mobile share with 5 smartphones (the 10gb plan works out to be the same cost as the 4gb plan). The cost before taxes for this is $270.00 per month. The comparable T-Mobile plan (2gbs on each phone) will cost me $160.00 per month. However as my Mom and daughter never exceed 500mb, I can save an additional $20 per month bringing my cost down to $140.00, a saving of $130 per month.

    As I am on AT&T, I can unlock my 4 iphones and take them to T-Mobile. I’m using a Nexus 4 so thats easy.

    ~S

    • http://www.everythingicafe.com Christopher Meinck

      That’s a big savings. With T-Mobile’s pricing, you don’t feel compelled to take advantage of a new hardware subsidy that you have to carry for 24 months. I hope T-Mobile is able to deliver new releases on par with the other carriers.

      Hard not to appreciate the beauty of the Nexus 4. Solid phone, affordable and contract-free. Works with AT&T or T-Mobile.

      • Stephen

        It’s a huge savings. As my mom and daughter don’t use much data, I’ll probably keep them on their iphone 4 and 4s. I will most likely buy my wife the iPhone 5 from T-mobile then sell her 4s to pay off the 5.

        I work in NYC and live in a suburb so hopefully the service is good. Right know I moved my N4 (whic is a great phone) to T-mobile to try out the service. If it proves good, I’ll migrate the other lines……

        ~S

  • Eric

    Why don’t you cover the best of both worlds? With an MVNO you get to choose your cell tower provider (AT&T / T-Mobile), with no contract, and for a lower price over 24 months?

    Since this is an iPhone article…

    1) Buy a new iPhone 5 direct from Apple ($649).
    2) Order a nano-SIM from one of the many MVNOs (Net10 – AT&T network, Straight Talk T-Mobile network, etc.) Google “USA MVNO list” and look at the wiki article for the full list of MVNOs in the USA.
    3) When your SIM arrives install it and signup for a no-contract plan from the SIM provider you selected. Most MVNOs are $45-50/month for unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB Data… in other words comparable to the “big carriers”, you’re even using the big carriers towers!

    Total cost: $649 + 24months@$50 = $1849. Oh and since your buying your phone direct from Apple, it’s also unlocked! So not only is it cheaper in the long run, you also don’t get any carrier restrictions. win/win.