T-Mobile offers to unlock iPhones, take customers from Apple-approved carriers

“T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, is pulling a neat trick,” YCharts reports for Forbes.

“In a campaign timed to coincide with the release of the latest iPhone, T-Mobile is inviting people to come in, unlock their iPhones and run those on the T-Mobile network instead,” YCharts reports. “That way, the only carrier that doesn’t officially sell the iPhone gets to sell it anyway and avoid paying hefty fees to Apple that are doing damage to profit margins at AT&T, Verizon Wireless, which is majority owned by Verizon, and to a lesser extent Sprint.”

YCharts reports, “If this works, it could solve a big problem for T-Mobile, the defection of customers who want an iPhone. Last February it announced the company lost 700,000 customers. It’s been working hard to build out its 4G system to be compatible with the iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

25 Comments

  1. This won’t really make such a huge difference. What T-Mobile may be getting is a trickle of defectors from other carriers, whose iPhone contracts have expired, but who want to continue using their old iPhones with a cheaper plan.

    For the iPhone 5 and the LTE network, it is not all that likely that too many people would be willing to shell out $650 upfront for the phone. Ironically enough, doing exactly that, and getting a prepaid T-Mobile plan would in the end be much cheaper than putting $200 down upfront, then paying considerably more than $450 for the next two years on the contract. While the carrier subsidy is nominally $450 or so, when the subsidy portion is taken out of the standard contract plans, the rates are still significantly higher than comparable pre-paid, contract-free (and subsidy-free) plans.

    Bottom line: if you have $650 you can spend right upfront, T-Mobile’s $50 all-you-can-eat 4G plan (100MB before throttling), or $70 all-you-can-eat (5GB before throttling) is still much better than Verizon, Sprint or AT&T. IN fact, even Virgin Mobile’s $45 per month plan (unlimited text and data, 1500 minutes voice) is significantly better than the big three contract plans.

    If only enough Americans actually knew how much cheaper the T-mobile deal would end up being for them, the lines for the unlocked, subsidy-free iPhone 5 would stretch for blocks and blocks!

    1. The problem is the AWS frequencies that T-Mobile 3G uses. Luckily, their so-called “4G” network (it’s anything but), is on a compatible UMTS frequency, but that means you’re either on 4G, or EDGE. Not ideal. However, if one lives in the right area, you’re absolutely correct.

      I was disappointed that the iPhone did not officially come to T-Mobile. In my neck of the woods, Cincinnati Bell has great coverage and great plans. They’ll even buy out your old contract! But they use the same frequencies as T-Mobile. I’m in their “4G” (again, it’s anything but) zone while at work, but that network doesn’t come anywhere near my home or the surrounding areas.

    2. I’m doing JUST THAT…

      When available, I’ll walk into the Apple store, buy an iPhone 5, and immediately go down stairs in the mall and cop a T-Mumble Nano-Sim and POOF ! I’m done… $69.99 ALL YOU CAN EAT VALUE PLAN… SO. CAL. – 4G-LTE LOVIN IT !!

      I’m out…

    3. iPhone x from Craig’s List: $200 to $300

      Factory (Permanent) unlock & jailbreak at local computer shop: $40

      T-Mobile family plan (4 phones, 2 data plans): $150/mo.

      Telling AT&T to F.O.: Priceless!

      1. With jailbreak you can buy iBlacklist for $12.95 and block unlimited numbers of phone numbers. Standard iPhone apps don’t include that function because AT&T charges $4.95 PER MONTH to block up to 30 numbers. F.O.AT&T!

    1. If you’re buying unlocked, this isn’t relavent. I’m on an unlocked iPhone on T-mobile now for two years. In ffact, the “prepaid”plans are actually better deals that the “plan.”

            1. Ever since Apple started offering an unlocked iPhone, there was only one kind: the GSM phone. You could not buy an unlocked “AT&T” version, or “Verizon” version, or “Sprint” version. CDMA isn’t available unsubsidised (with no plan), so the only version that you can buy for $650 upfront without contract is the universal one, running on GSM. This one works with any GSM carrier (with some of the usual exceptions related to 3G frequencies, etc, as mentioned above).

              So, for T-Mobile, you just buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple and stick the micro-SIM inside.

            2. When I bought an unlocked 4S last year from Apple’s website I still for some reason had to “choose” a carrier, even though there was no contract involved. I live outside the US, but travel back to visit family. Fortunately they live smack in the middle of an “excellent” area according to T-Mobile’s 4G coverage map, so while I’m there that’s what I’ll use.

  2. Anybody have an iPhone in Southeast Virginia notice T-Mobile 3G speeds? I’m sure some have seen this map that is updated NOT by T-Mobile but those with iPhones who picked up 3G speed and add that location to the map. Which I must say, unless these are “prank” sightings, has grown immensely over the past week or so.

    http://www.airportal.de/

      1. Since recently, T-Mobile received some parts of the spectrum (If I recall, as a settlement after the failed AT&T merger), that allowed 3G on 1.9GHz band. They started deploying early this year.

    1. That’s not true. T-Mobile is making a profit and Verizon as well as AT&T were profitable before the iPhone.

      I’m looking forward to going back to T-Mobile but I’ve got another 14 months before I can. Just at the right time to pick up 4 used iPhone 5’s at a good price when the iPhone 5S comes out.

  3. You do all realize that T-Mobile has ZERO LTE in the US, right?

    None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

    They are in the very beginnings of building an LTE network. And have a very weak presence that is compatible even with iPhone 4/4s.

    So you are talking about buying a pig in a poke.

    Now that iPhone 5 is LTE, their bleats of “4G, 4G” sound ever more hollow and deceptive.

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