I tried T-Mobile a few months ago and only lasted a few months (see the post here). I had purchased a phone outright and tried the prepaid plan because it was a decent deal at $70 per month. This included unlimited talk and text with 5GB of 4G data per month. Voice coverage was not great, but I was willing to live with that because who talks on the phone that much these days? What caused me to leave was billing errors and limitation placed on a prepaid plan.
T-Mobile has been working to disrupt the wireless market and I like that! I thought it was interesting that they separated the cost of the cell phone from the cost of the plan. If you decide to pay off the phone sooner, you will no longer have that payment. Now you will just have the service plan cost. You can even cancel your service without a fee, though you will need to pay off your phone or continue the monthly payments.
I like the plan being separate from equipment cost because I never thought it was reasonable to include the cost of the cell phone in the monthly plan. This is because the cost of the service plan would continue forever, even after you paid off the cost of the cell phone. Furthermore, you would not receive a discount if you just purchased the phone outright and just wanted service. This does not make sense to me, but it is rarely addressed in the United States because the majority of people do not keep phones very long and US consumers do not want to pay retail for a phone (easily $600 and up). The people that keep their phones beyond the term of their contracts are really paying more than they should.
Though I liked T-Mobile’s “UNcarrier” twist on billing, it was not enough to pry me from Verizon’s grip. I had fast LTE data speeds and the best wireless coverage available in my area (or the majority of the United States). What I did not like about Verizon was that I did not have unlimited data so I paid extra for a total of 6GB a month. This was not cheap, but I did not like worrying about data use because this was what I used most (i.e., podcasts, maps/navigation, reading). Again, who talks on a cell phone anymore?
T-Mobile did not wait long to again shake up the wireless market with their JUMP plan. This plan allows customers to upgrade their plan every six months. I will admit that this caused my pulse to increase. If there is anything I hate, it is an outdated cell phone. Cell phone technology is exciting to me because it is advancing at a rate rarely seen with any other consumer products. I want what’s new and I want it now! Since now will not always be possible, every six months will have to do. It did not take me long to get to T-Mobile and sign up. I am already looking forward to six months from now.
You might be thinking, what is the cost of this JUMP plan and what are the catches? There are extra costs, but these are not unreasonable to me. The JUMP plan costs an extra $10 per month, but this includes phone insurance that originally was $8 per month. And when it is time to get a new phone, you will pay the “on contract” price of the new phone. This would be the same discounted price you would pay for a phone when you sign up for a new plan.
Let’s breakdown the cost of the JUMP plan based on my plan:
- You finance a $629.99 cell phone, in this case a 16GB Samsung Galaxy S4. This is $149.00 down, plus the sales tax on the retail price of the phone (it is a tax law). There are other fees and taxes with starting cell phone service, which brings the total out the door cost in my area to $211.19.
- You pay $20 per month to finance the phone. *T-Mobile does not charge interest on the cell phone financing.
- You pay $10 per month for the JUMP plan, which includes insurance (an $8 value).
- You pay $70 per month for the “truly unlimited plan.”
- This brings the total monthly plan to $100 per month.
After six months on the JUMP plan you will have paid about $811.19. This includes the initial cost of the phone and monthly payments for the phone and the service. Possible taxes, if any, for the monthly service were not known and were not figured into the cost. When you get a new phone after six months, it is [roughly] like starting over. Figure the same costs for the following six months if you get a new phone that cost the same, which brings an approximate yearly cost to $1,622.38. This averages to $135.20 per month for the year.
You may be thinking this sounds expensive, but I am sure you would be shocked it you figured every dollar you paid to your carrier from the moment you signed up through a year of payments. Equipment costs and monthly service quickly add up. If I take advantage of a new phone every six months, the T-Mobile JUMP plan will cost me roughly $170 more per year than my Verizon service would have. This amount would be accurate if I never changed cell phones with Verizon. I guarantee I would not be able to keep my phone for two years with Verizon and I would end up purchasing a different phone outright from ebay or some other source. This would change my total cost with Verizon, so T-Mobile is a better deal for me that cannot be calculated for this post.
I need to add a final word about wireless coverage. T-Mobile is not for everyone because their cellular coverage is not as extensive as Verizon or even the other major carriers. You need to check if T-Mobile has coverage in your area and even what type of coverage it is. In addition to their slower Edge and 3G, T-Mobile has what is called HSPA, HSPA+ and now LTE. The HSPA and HSPA+ speeds in my area were quite decent and the recently activated LTE speed is very impressive. Here is a recent screenshot of a speed test on my T-Mobile Galaxy S4. Obviously these speeds will vary depending on location.
I do not regret leaving Verizon and paying an early termination fee (AKA ETF) to do so, but it has only been a few days. I will update this post as I use my new Galaxy S4 on T-Mobile. I am rooting for the underdog, so I hope I have more positive things to say in the near future.
Phandroid has a detailed post about the difference between the new plans being offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile that allow more frequent phone upgrades. Read the article here. T-Mobile’s JUMP plan seems like the best deal of the three.
Here is a speed test from the Canyon Hills community in Lake Elsinore, California (Riverside County). This area has extremely poor Verizon Wireless service – maybe one bar if you are lucky. Good luck making a call or even sending a text.
I went to Disneyland yesterday, which was the Sprint killer when I had that service. What I mean was the Sprint signal was so weak there that the phone constantly tried to get a signal, which killed the battery in about four hours. I was not alone and overheard people looking for batteries or ways to charge their cell phones. I hated trying to coordinate with others because I could not get data and voice calling was even questionable. The good news about yesterday was that my T-Mobile signal was strong, as you can see from the screen shot below. The only time I had a problem was inside the ESPN Zone restaurant when my signal dropped to Edge (2G). I did several speed tests throughout the day, including California Adventure, and most were impressive.
I have received my second bill that included the cell phone financing ($20) and my 15% discount. The total with tax was $93. This is $18 less than I was paying for Verizon with 6GB of data per month. Not a huge difference, but still a great deal for these reasons:
- If I pay off a phone, T-Mobile is $38 per month less than Verizon.
- I have truly unlimited data, which is fast in my area. I did a test recently and hit 34Mbps download speed.
- I can get a new phone every six months – and I am someone that wants a new phone every week!
Here’s where T-Mobile cannot compete with Verizon:
- Network coverage. I had more consistent LTE with Verizon. T-Mobile LTE will frequently drop to HSPA when I travelling about certain areas. T-Mobile HSPA is still fast, but not as fast as LTE. Some areas also have poor coverage and drop to 2G or will even have no signal. This is not too common, but it happens. This was not as frequent on Verizon, but it did happen. I carpool with a friend and every time I was in his area Verizon service barely worked or dropped out completely.
All in all, I am satisfied with the T-Mobile coverage and it is sufficient for my needs because I do not talk much on the phone. Data is more important to me and I get fast, unlimited speeds. If you are on the road often and talk a lot, Verizon may be better for you.