T-Mobile released a statement in December stating they would carry Apple devices in 2013. During an interview at CES, CEO John Legere has put a soft time frame of three to four months for carrying the phones.
This soft launch could give them the time they need to revamp all of the current plans. T-Mobile has been hinting that phone subsidies are going away and they will lead the US carriers to this model. As of just today you can sign up for an unlimited 4G data plan with no annual contract for $70 a month. Previous prepaid plans were capped at different tiers depending on the price point. They are truly branding themselves as the unlimited provider.
The 4th largest carrier in the US already offers unlimited plans on the post paid side and obviously they see enough demand to cater to the contract free crowd. Previous prepaid plans would throttle users speed after hitting 5GB of data. Now users won’t be reduced on speed or hit with overage fees of any sort. Mike Sievert, the chief marketing officer for T-Mobile released the follow statement on the unlimited mindset.
“Simply put, consumers want their data to be blazing fast, without limits and without overages. With our new Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan, that’s exactly what we’re giving them, and for the first time, we’re offering it without an annual contract. Other carriers want to lock customers in; we’re going to earn our customers’ business with an amazing 4G experience every day”
Prepaid plans have become extremely popular and users are not afraid to bring their own device to a carrier. T-Mobile is now home to 1.9 million iphones and are adding hundreds if not thousands daily. This is all before they officially even sell the top Apple hardware. If the subsidy hints are true, then users will be paying top dollar for the iphone, but considering almost 2 million have already done it I don’t see this being a problem.
With traditional US carriers you can purchase most high end phones for under $200, but you are stuck for 2 years on a contract to get that price. Pay $300 to $600 up front for the phone and use it contract free appears to be the new T-Mobile preference. Paying more up front and less monthly can offer significant consumer savings in the long run. Warranty companies like Squaretrade offer insurance for phones that are purchased unlocked for very reasonable rates.
Recent reports have pointed towards Apple offering a cheaper iphone in 2013. It would come in at $99 or $149 with a contract. This is $100 less than the current devices and it could put an unlocked contract free device around or below $500. Google also offers an extremely attractive Nexus 4 phone starting at $299 directly through their Play Store.
T-Mobile is acting like an underdog, which could help change the landscape for other US carriers.