Switching to T-Mobile
Going from Verizon to T-Mobile is a jarring transition - in a good way. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have taken measures to compete with T-Mobile on some levels, but Verizon and other carriers' offerings and policies just pale in comparison with the Un-carrier's.
Switching is painless because T-Mobile pays your early termination fee (ETF), albeit in the form of a Visa prepaid card and only up to $350. It's been a few weeks since I switched, and I still haven't received this card, but that's somewhat beside the point.
To make switching even easier for users, it has rolled out Carrier Freedom. The skinny is T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for any outstanding payments bills you might have with a competing carrier for your device. And that's $650 per line. Overall this should make it way easier for users to switch if they happen to still be paying off that Nexus 6 they still have with AT&T or Verizon.
Carrier Freedom, isn't just limited to individuals either, businesses can also take advantage of as long as they have more than 10 lines. Business accounts with more than 10 users, meanwhile, will get $100 credits for every additional line.
This was a genius move on T-Mobile's part. Without the monetary penalty there's nothing holding you on a competing carrier, and there's no reason not to switch to T-Mobile.
And on top of that I essentially didn't pay anything for my shiny new iPhone 6 Plus. Here's how it breaks down per month: I pay $31 for the phone, $10 for the Jump insurance, $60 for talk, text and data, and around $10 in taxes and fees. Altogether I'm paying the same roughly $110 a month that I was on Verizon.
Verizon frequently penalized me for going over my 2GB of monthly data by charging me an extra $10 and automatically bumping me up to a bigger plan - and yes, that carried over to subsequent months, costing me even more money. So my monthly bill on Verizon was often $120, and now I'm paying less than that per month, plus I have a brand new cutting-edge smartphone and more data too.
T-Mobile's 4G LTE coverage admittedly isn't as good as its competitors'. That may be the Un-carrier's biggest weakness, although you probably won't notice if you're in a major city or another area with solid coverage. It does depend where you live, though, and my experience in Los Angeles has been fine.
A T-Mobile speed test using Ookla revealed wildly varying download and upload speeds in different areas around Los Angeles, ranging from just 6MB up to 70MB per second. That's to be expected, though, and the fact is I haven't noticed any difference in service since I switched. No dropped calls, no glaring dead spots. T-Mobile iPhone 6 Plus experience has been perfectly smooth.
My biggest complaint about switching to T-Mobile is actually the in-store experience. The staff at the store I went to were perfectly polite and helpful, but they were also either clueless or actively trying to mislead me.
For example I was told explicitly that there weren't any additional taxes or fees beyond the actual costs of the plan and phone, so I had thought my bill would be $10 cheaper per month (they didn't count the taxes and fees in the number they showed me).
In addition the T-Mobile employees I interacted with completely failed to mention all the awesome benefits of T-Mobile's pre-paid plans - all the "Un-carrier" stuff, in other words. I'll get into those below, but it would have been nice to have them spelled out for me instead of having to Google around for that info.
T-Mobile: is it any good?
Even though I'm committed to paying for this iPhone 6 Plus, I'm now paying either the same or less per month than I was on Verizon, and being on a T-Mobile pre-paid plan makes a huge difference compared with being locked into a two-year contract. Just the thought of being stuck with that plastic Galaxy S4 for another year was giving me a headache, and I feel lighter now that I've switched.
Naturally there are a variety of T-Mobile devices available, and you can also bring your own device. That's a good option if you don't want to commit to a T-Mobile Jump plan - or if you don't think you'll qualify, since a T-Mobile pre-paid plan without Jump doesn't require them to do a credit check.
And let's not forget about all the other benefits that come with a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan. These are the "Un-carrier" moves that T-Mobile has been harping about for the last year and more.
My favorite so far is T-Mobile Music Freedom, which lets you stream an unlimited amount of music from Spotify, Google Play Music and more than two dozen other streaming music services. They just added 14 more this week, in fact.
T-Mobile Music Freedom means streaming music data isn't counted against your monthly allotment. As an avid Spotify user, I'm thrilled by this. I love not having to juggle song files between my computer and phone, and that's also why I'm able to easily survive with the smallest storage options on my phones. But on Verizon I was frequently butting up against my data limit thanks to all the songs I was streaming. Now I don't have to worry about it.
T-Mobile also offers unlimited international data and texting in well over 100 countries around the world as part of its Simple Global initiative. This means there are no roaming fees and no extra charges at all when you travel abroad with your phone. It sounds too good to be real, but that's where T-Mobile is at right now.
As of September 17, 2015, T-Mobile expanded its Simple Global coverage to 145 different countries including all of Europe and South America. The most recent expansion incorporated the Bahamas, Haiti and nine European nations. Overall if you look at the map, T-Mobile has network partners spread across the entirety of Europe and South America
Sprint, Verizon and AT&T all have their own versions of T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, but ever since T-Mobile started its "Un-carrier revolution" its rivals have been playing catch-up, and they still are today.
So: is T-Mobile any good? Is it worth switching to T-Mobile? The answer right now is overwhelmingly "yes," and with T-Mobile paying your cancellation fees for you, offering cheaper plans than the competition and providing so many awesome bonuses on top of that, there's literally nothing stopping you.
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Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.
Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.