The prices from T-Mobile’s announcement assume you’re using automatic payments, which come with a $5 discount per line that’s separate from the company’s $5 fee for in-store payments.
Every other aspect of the plan looks to be the same as that lower-tier “Plus” plan: it offers unlimited calls and texts, Netflix Basic (or Standard if you’re on a family plan), Apple TV Plus, and “unlimited” data, with up to 50GB of broadband-quality data. After that, your connection slows to a crawl at 600Kbps. If you work from home and are on Wi-Fi, 50GB could be plenty, but if you travel or go out a lot, you could find yourself frustrated with that limit.
There’s a caveat, though. T-Mobile won’t deem you “upgrade-ready” until you’ve paid off half your phone — otherwise, you’re still on a 24-month contract. AT&T offers a similar deal with its AT&T Next Up add-on: for $6 per month on top of your installment plan, you can upgrade if you’ve paid 50 percent of your phone off. The $6 per month is an added cost, yes, but on a plan that is, according to a chart included on T-Mobile’s announcement, $15 less monthly (before fees, of course).
The plan is positioned as an alternative to the three-year lock-ins offered by other carriers, which often come with a “free” phone, of course, normally manifested as a monthly credit on your account.
The freedom of annual upgrades is nice but feels less relevant now than ever, in a time when smartphones are changing less from year to year and tend to last far longer, even if their batteries maybe don’t.