In 2007 I switched from Sprint to AT&T so that I could buy and use the first iteration of Apple's newly introduced iPhone. And so partly because I had a grandfathered unlimited data plan and partly because the alternatives didn’t seem that much better, I had been an At&T customer ever since.
But I can’t say that I’d ever been blown away by AT&T’s network. Data speeds while walking around New York City seemed sluggish, even when on LTE, and service often went dead in peculariar places. I could never get service at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 38th Street, right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. And I often watched jealously as friends on other networks used their phones inside of buildings, notoriously a challenge for AT&T's towers.
So when the iPhone 6 was released I decided to take a chance on T-Mobile, a carrier that seemed like it really wanted to earn my business. A month in, I have to say I am impressed, really impressed. I routinely get T-Mobile service inside of buildings, basements and elvators that were previously deadspots on my AT&T iPhone.
And while I haven’t used testing websites to verify this, the data speeds seem to be remarkably faster as well. I do find that T-Mobile takes a bit logner to connect to a tower when the subway emerges from the underground tunnel onto the Gowanus overpass, but other than that, I have not had a single bad data connection outdoors in the city.
The improved service is a compelling enough reason to switch, but what really makes T-Mobile stand out from their bigger rivals are their policies that truly benefit consumers, policies that remind how you just how restrive AT&T and Verizon are. A few highlightes of what they call their “uncarrier” approach include:
- no contract required; sign up and cancel anytime
- no overage charges on data use; once you go over your plan’s LTE data T-Mobile throttles your speed down to 3G for the remainder of the billing period
- streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody do not count against data use
- unlimited data and texting while travelling internationally (full list of contries here)
- free texting and visual voicemail on planes equiped with Gogo Wi-Fi
Now, that’s a lot of reasons to give up your grandfathered unlimited data plan with Verizon or AT&T to sign up with T-Mobile (something I did), but there is one potential drawback you should be aware of. While I have had exceptional service in New York City, I am told that T-Mobile’s service can be spotty when travelling outside of major cities. When travelling south on I-95 to Washington, DC I did experience a few dead zones.
So as great as T-Mobile’s consumer friendly approach may be, you’ll want to make sure you can get service in the areas your frequent before makign a switch. Thankfully, T-Mobile also makes this easy. They will send you a free iPhone 5s to test their service for seven days.
Since I’m not a road warrior, I made the decision that I would rather have exceptional service 99% of the time, than mediocre service 100% of the time. If you travel a lot you may not be able to make quite the same calculation. Although there is an additonal benefit to T-Mobile; so far they are the only U.S. carrier to route your calls and texts over any Wi-Fi network you’re connected to. So if you’re visiting the family farm and there are no T-Mobile towers, you can sitll make calls and texts using Wi-Fi.
That won’t solve service issues while in your car, but it does open up T-Mobile’s reach to any location with a Wi-Fi network. And if that weren’t enough, T-Mobile will loan you a supped up Wi-Fi router that priotizies voice calls on your network. I have used Wi-Fi calling both with this router and on standard routers and the calls sound nearly impercetible from over the air cell calls.
If, after reading this, you’re tempted to switch but don’t want to pay an Early Termination Fee with your current carrier, T-Mobile again has you covered. They will pay your ETF and buy your current phone when you switch and trade in your phone.
As a consumer, I’m a big fan of companies that are willing to work hard for my business and that prioritize my intersts. T-Mobile, like Apple, has become one of those companies that make me very happy to be a customer.
How has your experience been with T-Mobile? Let me know on Twitter @QNYTech.
PS. T-Mobile’s CEO, like their service, is carving a unique path. To see how hard he’s working to make T-Mobile the most consumer friendly carrier follow him on Twitter @JohnLegere.