The price of the T-Mobile iPhone 5 plan is indeed cheaper than the AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint plans, with no-contract customers saving as much as $600 over the course of two years.
The fourth-place U.S. carrier will finally start selling Apple's iPhone, which it called "the phone that redefined the industry," on April 12 for a $99 down payment and $20 each month for 24 months.
That works out to be $579 for the iPhone 5 during the two-year no contract period, as long as you are a "qualified buyer" who passes a credit check.
Add that to a $50 per month T-Mobile unlimited talk and text Simple Choice plan and the two-year cost is $1,200 for the 500MB a month service, a total of $1,779 for the phone and service combined.
T-Mobile vs AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
The cheapest two-year AT&T plan is a whopping $2,155 for a paltry 300GB of data each month. The more reasonable 3GB monthly data plan costs an unreasonable $2,395. There's nothing in between.
Both of those AT&T prices include the cost of the phone and the $36 activation fee.
Verizon iPhone plans at least give customers several tiers to work with, including 300MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, all the way up to 50GB.
But Verizon, like AT&T, sees its small 300MB plan top two grand with $2,154 after two years when the price of the device and one-time $35 activation fee are included.
Keep in mind, Verizon notes "Verizon Wireless data devices average between 1GB and 2GB of data per month."
So, taking a look at the 1GB plan, it ends up being $2,394, and the 2GB plan $2,634, both of which include the $199 iPhone 5 and activation fee.
Sprint is slightly better at a two-year total of $2,155 for the plan, device and activation fee, but pigeonholes all customers as "unlimited," whether or not they're big data and messaging users.
T-Mobile iPhone 5 upgrades are cheaper, too
Just to be fair, since T-Mobile's iPhone 5 competitors unfairly force new customers into either lower or higher-tiered data options, let's include the no-contract network's iPhone data plan upgrades.
T-Mobile is charging $10 a month for 2GB of data and $20 for unlimited 4G data.
The total cost for an iPhone 5 for T-Mobile comes out to $1,920 for 2GB per month and $2,160 for unlimited 4G coverage - still cheaper than AT&T and Verizon (but not Sprint) when it comes to unlimited data.
Taking on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint
The AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint iPhone 5 plans are more expensive because the carriers either charge for messaging and have eliminated lower-tiered data services.
AT&T's voice plan, starting at $39.99 a month for 450 minutes, isn't the problem. It includes rollover minutes, 5,000 night and weekend minutes, and free mobile-to-mobile minutes.
After all, the new generation of cell phone users aren't talking as much as they're texting and surfing the mobile web.
The problem is AT&T's $30 for 3GB of data per month, when T-Mobile charges $20 for unlimited data. AT&T's 300MB plan just won't do for most people, and, again, there's absolutely nothing in between.
Likewise, AT&T and Verizon still charge for messaging when T-Mobile does not, and both AT&T and Verizon have a whole one plan option for texters (read: pretty much everybody).
T-Mobile CEO John Legere admitted this morning that not having the iPhone left a "huge void in our portfolio."
With the fourth-place carrier finally getting the Apple device on April 12 and unveiling its new no contract policy at the same time, maybe T-Mobile can make a dent in its subsidizing, one-tier-fits-all competitors.
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