2 months with T-Mobile: my final thoughts & observations

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by besweeet, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    For the past 2 months, I've been using T-Mobile's long-available $30 prepaid plan, which includes 100 minutes, unlimited texting, 5GB high-speed data, and unlimited 2G data (after the 5GB). Overall, I've been pretty happy with T-Mobile, and will be looking to switch within the next couple of months. It's not vital that I switch now, so I might as well let my AT&T ETF go down a little more. The current AT&T plan that I'm on is nearly $170 per month for 3 lines, with 550 shared minutes, unlimited texting, 300MB of data on one line, and 4GB of data w/tethering on another. T-Mobile would be just $93.50 per month for the same 3 lines, but with unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, 500MB high-speed data for the first two (unlimited, 2G data afterwards), and unlimited high-speed data for the last line.

    The network itself is great. I tested T-Mobile in San Antonio, Austin, and South Padre Island, all in Texas. 4G signal and performance in all of those areas, and in cities in-between where offered, were great. Compared to AT&T, signal strength, at least in terms of the signal bars on the iPhone 5, was very comparable, typically matching each other or being better than AT&T in most areas. T-Mobile's non-LTE speeds were also pretty good, averaging 10Mbps download and 2Mbps upload with average pings below 80ms.

    When traveling between SA and SPI, my only main fear about T-Mobile became a reality: EDGE. T-Mobile is known for having the largest amounts of EDGE-only service, with even some GPRS thrown in there. T-Mobile also has no known plans on upgrading these areas, unfortunately. I don't go on road trips too often, and I always plan on being in a populated city, so I probably won't need to worry about this too much. T-Mobile's coverage maps have been extremely accurate for me.

    LTE is still iffy where available. Much of SA and Austin are still without LTE. Even if you have LTE, the signal bars will be one or two lower than that of HSPA+. LTE also doesn't work well in buildings, usually falling back to HSPA+. If you do happen to get LTE in a building with just 1 or 2 bars, even coming into close contact with the phone could bring it back to HSPA+. That happened to me in several different locations, where the phone would go from 1 or 2 bars of LTE to 3 or 4 of HSPA+. During the majority of my testing, I've left my iPhone 5's LTE toggle off. The only real advantage to having LTE is lower latency. With T-Mobile's 4G, tapping on a link on a webpage would leave you sitting there for up to several seconds before the expected page begins to load. In comparison, AT&T's 4G is almost like LTE. Now, LTE on the other hand is almost instant.

    I'm not sure if it's my iPhone 5 or T-Mobile (I'm assuming it's the phone, perhaps due to an unoptimized baseband), but the phone seems to tower hop far too much, even if in the same exact spot. For instance, if I leave my iPhone 5 sitting on my desk at home, I can sit back and watch it constantly switch between 2-4 bars. Calling *3001#12345#* to open the Field Test app shows that it seems to be switching between towers, for whatever reason. Why can't it just stay with the strongest one? Hopefully Apple can fix this in upcoming iOS updates, maybe with iOS 7.0 (betas 4-6 left me with the full signal bug, which is unacceptable for my testing, obviously). This also brought battery life down drastically when compared to when I had my AT&T SIM installed. Call quality, though, is noticeably clearer and louder than with AT&T. I've yet to have an HD Voice call, but I imagine that that would be kinda neat. Maybe leaving battery percentage turned off would've been better for me...

    But overall, things have mostly been positive. I just wish that T-Mobile would invest in upgrading all of those 2G-only areas to at least 3G. They're currently investing a lot in LTE, so it'll probably take a few years before they even think about touching those old cell sites. Anyway, T-Mobile has really been pretty great. Given their seemingly pro-consumer attitude, great plans, good & reliable service, and cheap prices, T-Mobile has at least 3 people switching to them by the end of the year. Until then, I'll be using my AT&T service. I will say that it's kind of nice to have LTE everywhere with signal strengths to match that of their HSPA+ with normal device battery life. Still looking forward to T-Mobile, though!
     
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  2. dkhmwilliams

    dkhmwilliams Member
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    Sounds like it is a go. I couldn't do it because T-Mobile in my area can't touch AT&T.


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  3. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    Is it because of slow data speeds (EDGE & GPRS), poor signal/roaming, or anything else?
     
  4. imutter

    imutter Genius
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    that was me testing T-Mobile
    I stayed with AT&T
     
  5. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    That's the #1 complaint I see from people who are looked to switch from T-Mobile as well as from people who want to switch to T-Mobile.
     
  6. Chancellor

    Chancellor Contributor
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    I'm very pleased with tmobile, the only places I travel to (basically) all have lte :), of course I do not travel too often.

    GS4/iPhone5
     
  7. besweeet

    besweeet Contributor
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    Update: I've finally switched from AT$T, after having been with them for 8 years. Number transfer took longer than I thought it would (gave them the wrong info, but calling them up got it all resolved quickly), but everything is working and great now.
     

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