Earlier today, news started filtering through the grapevine that T-Mobile stores were starting to receive stock of nano-SIM cards geared specifically for an unlocked iPhone 5. Now, while a store receiving stock of nano-SIM cards may not sound all that news worthy to someone off the street, for those of you who have thought about purchasing an unlocked iPhone 5 and using it on T-Mobile’s network here in the States, well, then it’s certainly news.
But is it good news?
I can safely say that it isn’t bad news. It can’t really be bad news, can it? After all, T-Mobile is simply providing an option for potential customers. And, surely there are people out there who would prefer to use T-Mobile’s network, rather than AT&T’s. Whatever the reason, they exist. If they didn’t, then I probably wouldn’t have been reading about T-Mobile receiving nano-SIM cards in the first place.
To be honest, I started to write this article with the full intention of touting T-Mobile’s decision to stock nano-SIM cards as a great move. They’re supporting unlocked devices, which they always have in the past, but gearing it specifically towards Apple’s latest release. With the focus on the iPhone 5, they are at least opening the door to potential new customers.
But, this is basically what T-Mobile has done right from the get-go. I mean, if you’ve had a GSM-based iPhone in the past, then you’ve always been able to unlock it (if you took the time, or were given the option) and use it on T-Mobile’s network. Yes, T-Mobile does have to go a step further and provide nano-SIM cards, and that is indeed a good move on their part, but there’s so much more work to do on the customer’s side that I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it.
First, in a strange twist of fate, it’s AT&T’s version of the iPhone 5 that comes out of the box locked to the network. As it stands right now, I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere that AT&T has any immediate plans on unlocking those devices, either. So, that means you’ll have to get your hands on a Verizon version of the iPhone 5, which isn’t necessarily impossible, but then you realize you have to deal with contracts and all that jazz.
(Getting your hands on an unlocked iPhone 5 isn't necessarily impossible, but it isn't as easy as it used to be.)
But, to me, the most important part is the fact that nothing has changed with network connectivity when it comes to iPhones and T-Mobile. Specifically, you’re still going to be using the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s 2G network, and I have absolutely no idea why anyone would choose to do that. If you want to connect to T-Mobile’s 1900MHz HSPA+ network, which is compatible with the iPhone 5, then you’ll have to live in some parts of Seattle, within the New York City metro area, or within Las Vegas’s city limits. That’s it. Everywhere else? 2G.
Yes, that’s expanding, but as it stands right now, as of the time of this writing, unless you live in one of those three areas, I just don’t see this being a viable option for someone.
Your desire for the iPhone 5 would have to be monumental. In which case, you may want to think about another plan.
T-Mobile’s cheapest plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data for an unlocked phone comes in at $69.99 per month, so I can admit that that would be a pretty savory detail that could possibly coax some folks onto Magenta’s network.
Other than T-Mobile offering up the nano-SIM cards in store, nothing much has changed. Not in the actual usage aspect of it, anyway. But I’m still curious to see how many of you are thinking about running an unlocked iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s network. Or if you already are.