In a very price conscious tablet market, the race to the bottom for cheap tablets continues. T-Mobile and Walmart are teaming up for a two tablet assault that will offer consumers an opportunity to get into the 4G connected tablet game this summer at prices below $230. The new tablets are paired with T-Mobile’s cheap but stingy data plans that it calls Free Data for Life that offer 200 MB of free 4G connectivity for the life of the tablet. The push is to provide users with attractive price points for lower spec’d hardware and cheap connectivity options that will entice users to upgrade to higher priced data plans.
There’s nothing wrong with low prices to try and hook customers and T-Mobile continues to prove that it likes that approach. In a statement announcing the deal this morning, T-Mobile senior vice president Doug Chartier said, “The vast majority of tablet owners today are trapped in the Wi-Fi zone. First there’s the extra cost of a cellular-enabled tablet. Then there’s the added cost of the big three carriers’ expensive data plans and the danger of overages. It doesn’t have to be this way. With these great connected tablets, you get free 4G data for the life of your tablet on the blazing fast T-Mobile network – and the freedom to live your life beyond the Wi-Fi zone – at an unheard of price.”
So, how does the deal work and what are the tablets? First, at participating stores Walmart is now offering the Apollo Brands Trio AXS Quad Core tablet for $179. The 4G enabled Trio AXS has a 7.85″ HD display, 16GB on-device storage, two-cameras, a MicroSD slot, and is powered by a quad core 1.2GHz processor with 1 GB memory.
In June, Walmart will start carrying The HP Slate 7 HD. It will also offer 4G connectivity, a multi-touch HD wide-angle display, 16 GB on-device storage, two cameras, a MicroSD slot, and 1GB of onboard memory. The HP Slate 7HD will sell for $229. The HP Slate 7HD is currently on sale at Best Buy for $218 but requires a separate wireless contract to get any sort of 4G connectivity. It is also available without a wireless contract at Staples for $222.49.
Note there is no mention of Google Play access for the Apollo Brands Trio tablet in the press materials, so users might want to check that out before purchasing.
This is T-Mobile’s first effort at selling Tablets with Walmart following up on the relationship built by selling smartphones. Walmart is certainly known for offering a variety of cheap WiFi only tablets, alongside the more expensive iPad tablets.
Customers hunting for a cellular connection bargain should beware that the “Free Data for Life” plans that provide 200 MB each month for the life of the tablet may be enough to do some rudimentary chores like email and web browsing, but for heavier use such as streaming Netflix, users will have to pick a higher priced plan, or fall back to being “trapped in the Wi-Fi zone” and connect to a WiFi network. T-Mobile states the Walmart data price plans this way:
Walmart customers have exclusive access to two T-Mobile high-speed data passes: $35 for 3.5GB of high-speed data or $50 for 5GB of high-speed data. Additional daily, weekly and monthly postpaid plan options are also available for T-Mobile customers with an existing voice plan, starting as low as $10 per month for nearly 1.2 GB of high speed data every month.
200MB free data every 30 days for as long as you own and use registered device with T-Mobile. No roaming. Qualifying postpaid voice and mobile Internet service required for free additional 1GB of data. $35 and $50 on-demand passes require new device purchased at Walmart. Taxes & fees additional.
Low cost tablets can certainly be attractive to users on a budget and these and other lower priced options available on the market are approaching price points that almost make them disposable. And while the Free Data for Life plans look extremely attractive in a world of data contracts they are positioned quite well for an up sell from T-Mobile.