Today the fourth largest mobile carrier, T-Mobile, launched its rumored Value plans officially on its website. This Value plan is a new way for T-Mobile to allow customers to ditch contracts and essentially revamp the way we think when we hear "prepaid". While T-Mobile has been highly criticized in the past, it seems that this move is the beginning of the company taking a new direction for the better.
I decided to take a look at just how the new Value plans worked. While the Value plans seem tempting and the process itself is easy, the plans and the way they are laid are just a tad confusing.
It's worth noting that the entire time I went through this process the website went down several times, so I can assume the website is under a heavy load right now. I had to start over a total of 11 times so be aware of that if you plan on checking the plans out themselves.
On the first page you'll be able to choose the number of lines you want and the amount of data you'd like to use. Your choices range from 500 MB (included) to Unlimited Nationwide 4G speeds. In between the two you have the choice between 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12GB of data that you can choose from (tack 500MB on to each, as it's included with every plan - so really the plans are 2.5GB, 4.5GB, etc.) Each bracket states that once you reach the highest for that bracket (2.5GB for example) your speeds will slow down to 2G, which debunks the rumors before that you would just be charged $10 extra for going over without having to call in or make adjustments. However, I think the amount of choices you have for the amount of data you want is good because most carriers don't offer that many choices - for many, it's either a few gigs or unlimited. Flexibility in that range is a good start; people like choices.
Here's where the confusing part is: As of right now, the plans are priced as follows for Individual Plans: the 500MB (included) plan starts at $50, and each plan goes up $10 depending on the amount of data you want, bringing the 12GB plan to $110.00. When I click on the last option (the “Unlimited 4G”) I expect to see 120.00 or something of that nature. Nope. $70.00. What? So you're saying I could either have 4GB of data for $70, or Unlimited 4G for the same price? That's a little confusing, but I'm not going to say no to a bad thing. So I choose the Unlimited 4G and move on.
The next page takes you to where you get to choose your phone. It gives you the option to pay either in full or in payments. They have some decent choices for $0 phones today – Galaxy Note II, HTC 8X, and HTC One S notably. The Nexus 4 is $49, the Galaxy S III is $69, and the Galaxy Note II is $199. It's almost like you're signing up with a carrier that you're bound on contract with. However, you'll notice below the price you'll pay today it will tell you how much extra you'll be tacking on to your monthly plan for the next two years. In the example below, you see that you would be paying $20 extra each month for the Galaxy Note II for 24 months. Not a bad deal if you're not willing to fork over $679.00 on the spot.
The next page will be the accessories they want you to buy, and after that you get to the final checkout page where everything is spelled out for you. The Unlimited Talk + Text portion is $50/mo., and the Unlimited Data comes to $20/mo. The phone will cost $20/mo. for 24 months, bringing your total to $90/mo. You might think to yourself, "Yeah, but that's what I'd be paying at my contract carrier, too." Except for the key here is that you're not in contract and you can leave whenever you want with no repercussions.
An added bonus is that if you already have a T-Mobile device, or any other GSM device, you can bring it with you and skip adding that extra monthly charge for a new device altogether.
Personally, I have said and I still think this is a good move for T-Mobile. Even though their plans are a little confusing right now (I am wondering if their "Unlimited 4G" plan is something that will only be offered for a limited time) they’re still priced competitively and offer more freedoms and features (HSPA+ and LTE) than most prepaid carriers can say that they do, plus they give you two options on how you would like to pay for your full-price phone if that's the route you're going to take. They’re paving a whole new path for mobile carriers, and if the plans really are as good as they say they are then I think we will be seeing more of these pop up over time.
As I mentioned before, T-Mobile's website is kind of finicky right now so if you're interested in checking these plans out for yourself then please be aware you might have to start over a few times.
Readers, now that you can officially see what these plans entail how do you feel about them? Do you say yes or no to the Value Plans? Do you get a better value from your current carrier? Let me know your opinions in the comments!