Finally, after years of rumors and speculation from analysts, the United States’ fourth-largest mobile service provider is getting Apple’s iconic smartphone. Yes, the iPhone is officially coming to T-Mobile.
Earlier today, T-Mobile USA’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, confirmed that the carrier will start selling Apple products at some point next year. Taking it a step further, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere confirmed T-Mobile USA will indeed start selling some model of the iPhone in 2013. Whether it’s the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5S or something else entirely remains to be seen.
T-Mobile also confirmed that it will drastically alter its data plans for 2013 by only offering its Value Plans to customers in 2013. This means that T-Mobile will offer the iPhone without a subsidized price, leaving potential customers with three likely options. One, paying the phone off in full outright. Two, buying the phone for a discounted price and then paying installments over the course of 20 or so months. Or three, bringing an unlocked iPhone to its network.
The carrier is hoping that the cheap voice and data services that the Value Plans offer will be enough to lure customers into buying an iPhone through them instead of through a competitor like AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. Whether that happens, remains to be seen.
So, even with the confirmation, there are still a lot of question marks surrounding the T-Mobile iPhone. Price, release date, model, just to name a few. As an iPhone 5 owner myself, this news is especially intriguing and Here are my thoughts on the upcoming T-Mobile iPhone, confirmed for release in 2013.
January/February Release Date?
The timing of T-Mobile’s iPhone 5 announcement comes at an interesting part of the year. It’s right during the holiday season, when people are surely looking to buy devices like the iPhone 5 and it’s right before the start of CES 2013 this January. If you recall, in 2011, Verizon announced the iPhone 4 at launch event at the beginning of January. Specifically, January 11th.
It’s certainly possible that Apple and T-Mobile might be following a similar formula if it plans on releasing Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 5. If T-Mobile does offer the iPhone 5, I think it will occur early in the year, potentially January or February. This will make sure that the launch won’t be too close to the launch of Apple’s next iPhone which is rumored to be coming either in mid-2013 or in the fall like the iPhone 5.
If it does do this, the iPhone won’t run on a 4G LTE network, at least not at the start, as T-Mobile won’t have one in place. Instead, it could launch it without 4G LTE capabilities and tout its HSPA+ network. Given the demand for the Nexus 4, it’s clear that not everyone needs LTE at this point.
There is also the possibility that it might just wait for the next iPhone that Apple puts out. After all, T-Mobile has waited this long. The next iPhone, now dubbed the iPhone 5S, is expected either this summer or this fall and will more than likely run on 4G LTE.
T-Mobile is trying to attract unlocked iPhone 5 customers with its network and it could continue to do that all the way up until the launch of the iPhone 5S. That would allow T-Mobile to offer the device with a 4G LTE network in place. Sprint launched its 4G LTE network in the middle of 2012 and it still is hovering around 50 markets.
Assuming the iPhone 5S launches in the fall like the past two iPhones, it would also allow T-Mobile to have a more mature 4G LTE network in place assuming it gets it rolled out by the end of summer.
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will be miles ahead of it in terms of 4G LTE market share when the next iPhone comes out so T-Mobile will need every advantage it can muster.
T-Mobile iPhone Price
T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere suggested that the carrier could offer the iPhone for $99 and then charge customers $15 to $20 a month over a twenty month period. While that’s not for sure, what’s clear is that T-Mobile is likely not going to be offering up the iPhone for its familiar $199.99 starting price tag. Instead, expect something unique, for better or for worse.
If that price is anywhere close to correct, and it very well could be, T-Mobile could sell the device for $400 or $500. Though unlike the unlocked iPhone 5, which costs $649.99, it will need a contract. That could be a tough pill to swallow.
Educate the Public
I’ve never owned a T-Mobile phone and I’ve never considered buying one primarily based on its lack of 4G LTE coverage. But now that T-Mobile is primed and ready to join the big leagues, it’s going to become a viable option not only for me but for plenty of other people out there who may have held back. Problem is, the way that T-Mobile is going to be offering the phone is going to be a bit strange to the average person, maybe even confusing.
T-Mobile is going to have to do a very good job convincing the average consumer that their method is the most beneficial way of buying the iPhone. Even with the upfront price being so steep, the Value Plans will likely save people some cash over the subsidized plans on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. But without any education on the benefits, T-Mobile won’t be able to tap into the iPhones vault of average consumers.
Most Intriguing Aspect
The iPhone 5 supports T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network. For instance, folks in Las Vegas can get access to T-Mobile’s high-speed HSPA+ network using an unlocked iPhone 5. That, to me, is maybe the most intriguing aspect for me as a smartphone owner.
One of my favorite features of the AT&T iPhone 5 is the fact that when I don’t have 4G LTE service, I have access to HSPA+ 21 or what AT&T calls “4G’. HSPA+ 21 is faster than 3G which is what CDMA iPhones like the Verizon iPhone 5 and Sprint iPhone 5 pull down when 4G LTE isn’t available. And let me tell you, 4G LTE isn’t available everywhere.
And that’s why T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network is so intriguing. HSPA+ 42 often can produce similar speeds to 4G LTE and having that as a backup when 4G LTE isn’t available would be truly amazing for a data hound like myself.