T-Mobile Cell Phone Plans Review 2020

If you’re looking for fast speeds and unlimited plan prices with no gotchas, T-Mobile is a clear winner.
t-mobile logo
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Straightforward plans and pricing
Great ratings for 4G speed
50 GB of data each month
Lacking coverage in rural areas

All the catchy commercials aside, why should you choose T-Mobile?

The answer is simple: if you can’t stand phone plans covered in gotchas and fine print, T-Mobile’s unlimited plans offer refreshingly up-front pricing.

Those prices already include taxes and fees and are still cheaper than three out of the top four cell phone providers. And though its coverage doesn’t match up to Verizon in rural areas, we think transparent pricing and high ratings for high speed make T-Mobile a great choice for city dwellers.

T-Mobile unlimited plans

What you see is (mostly) what you get.

T-Mobile unlimited cell phone plans

It’s hard to find a straightforward cell phone plan out there, but we think T-Mobile plans come the closest. It’s not every day you find a company that advertises its prices with taxes and fees included, but T-Mobile does.

That is, it did, until the Essentials plan came along. For some reason, T-Mobile decided not to include taxes in the price for that guy, so plan on paying a little more than what you see above.

The good news is that these prices still offer a lot of bang for the buck. Your data doesn’t cap until you hit 50 GB (which is great compared to other providers), you get quality streaming (HD-quality with the Magenta Plus plan), and strong coverage.

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Talk to me about perks
So why would you go with the more expensive Magenta or Magenta Plus plans? You get better streaming, free in-flight texting, and if you’re doing a family plan, free Netflix.

We’ll put those T-Mobile phone prices to the task and compare them with the other best cell phone providers out there.

T-Mobile unlimited cell phone plans comparison

As far as basic unlimited plans go, T-Mobile is among the cheapest of the major carriers. It can’t beat cheap rates offered by MVNO providers, but it does beat them in coverage, speed, and data caps.1 On the other end, T-Mobile doesn’t have quite the same level of coverage as Verizon.2

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Essentials customers get slowed first
Bad news for Essentials customers: they’ll be the first to have their data speeds slowed during times of high traffic.

Honestly, we’re surprised T-Mobile doesn’t cost more than it does. It has essentially the same quality as AT&T or Verizon, yet it costs quite a bit less. It’s like paying $6 for a Double-Double at In-N-Out as opposed to paying $9 for a vastly inferior hamburger at Five Guys. (That’s right, I said it . . .)

The main thing you should worry about with T-Mobile is the rural coverage. In many parts of the West, for example, you’re not going to get the level of coverage you would want. For the rest of you in other parts of the country, though, T-Mobile makes a strong case.

T-Mobile family plans

Cell phone plans for whatever your family needs.

You’ve got four options for your T-Mobile family plan, and they range from no data to tons of data with HD-quality streaming. From Essentials and up, you’re looking at unlimited plans—it just depends on what kind of unlimited you want.

Do you have a family that cares about having tons of hotspot data and HD streaming? Do your college kids need laptop access on the go? Or do you enjoy watching The Walking Dead on your morning train commute? Then you might want to check out the Magenta Family plan or Magenta Plus Family plan.

On the other hand, if you mainly just use the internet for email, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, then you’ll want just a basic unlimited plan, like the Essentials plan. And for our true minimalists living off the grid, you can get a plan without any data at all.

How do these T-Mobile family plans compare with other family plans? Let’s take a look.

T-Mobile family plans comparison

Just like with other T-Mobile phone plans, this one’s basically in the middle. In this case, T-Mobile wireless being in the middle is a wonderful thing.

Compared to other top four wireless providers, T-Mobile edges into the lead with perks like no speed throttling until you’ve used 50 GB of data in a billing cycle. Yes, you read that right: 50 gigs.

AT&T doesn’t even come close—they’ll slow you down at 22 or 23 GB. Verizon is the only company to top those 50 gigs—its Above Unlimited plan offers 75 GB of unthrottled data.

On top of everything else, you’re getting a deal by getting your T-Mobile coverage with a family plan. For all that, you’d think that T-Mobile would be more expensive.

So unless you live in a rural area, you should really consider a T-Mobile family plan. It’s got fast speeds, good coverage for metro areas, and just a ton of data to go around. Call your extended family and get in on this. It’s money well spent.

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T-Mobile international coverage
If you’re a frequent flyer, you may just fall in love with perks of the T-Mobile Magenta Plus International plan. Find out whether this is the best plan for your adventures abroad in our Best International Plans review.

T-Mobile prepaid plans

Save some money with a T-Mobile prepaid plan.

T-Mobile prepaid plans

If you compare T-Mobile prepaid plans with the unlimited plans, you’ll notice the prepaid options are a bit cheaper. The main catch is that you’ll have to pay in advance instead of getting your bill at the end of the month.

The prepaid system can get a little annoying if you forget to pay for another month of service, but as long as you stay on top of things, you’ll save more than a few bucks every month.

The T-Mobile prepaid plans have the same perks of their postpaid counterparts. You still have a 50 GB data cap and mobile hotspot on the go.

T-Mobile cell phones and devices

Pick a phone, any phone, including iPhones, Samsungs, Google Pixels, and more. 

T-Mobile has a pretty big lineup of both iPhones and Samsungs—including older models if the price of a just-released phone makes you queasy. And if you’re a Google fan, you can even grab a new Google Pixel 4 or 4XL. Heck, T-Mobile is also the only carrier where you can pick up the new OnePlus 7 Pro in-store.

Which top phones does T-Mobile have?
MakeModels availableLearn more
iPhoneiPhone 11 / 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS / XR / X, iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, iPhone 7 / 7 Plus, iPhone SEView Prices
SamsungGalaxy S10 / S10e / S10 Plus, Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus, Galaxy Note9View Prices
GooglePixel 4 / 4XL, Pixel 3 / 3XLView Prices
OnePlusOnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7 ProView Prices

Be ready to share your credit score—even average credit means you’ll most likely need to fork over a down payment along with monthly payments. This is fairly common with other top four cell phone service providers, although we didn’t get asked about our credit when we signed up for Verizon.

If you prefer to skip the credit check, you can—just be aware you’ll need to pay the full retail price of your new phone right then and there.

How good is T-Mobile performance?

T-Mobile doesn’t lead the pack for coverage in rural areas, but overall it gets good ratings in coverage reviews.

Verizon Coverage Map

Source: T-Mobile

Turns out, T-Mobile has some pretty great rankings for coverage—we’d say it comes third, just behind AT&T.1, 2 If you want to be sure your area is covered, check out T-Mobile’s interactive coverage map.

OK, so coverage is good, but how fast is T-Mobile 4G really? We think T-Mobile deserves second place out of the top four wireless providers for its zippy speeds and high ratings in the latest studies.1,2

T-Mobile customer service: What’s the deal?

The wireless industry as a whole has issues with customer service, but T-Mobile is trying to change that.

Talk to a T-Mobile customer, and you’ll probably hear a mix of stories about customer service, both good and bad.

We’ve had great experiences with in-store customer service in the past. Long story short, we ordered a phone from T-Mobile website, and it was stolen before it even arrived on our doorstep.

Thankfully, the in-store representative walked us through what to do and how to get a replacement phone, and they remained understanding and helpful even though we showed up at the store right at closing time.

However, when we later noticed the stolen phone was activated and we started receiving a bill for it, we had to contact the call center several times to cancel the service and zero out the bill. Moral of the story? Visit your local T-Mobile store for a better experience.

If you prefer to avoid phone calls and trips to the store, we feel you. You can make contact with T-Mobile and ask questions on social media. Prepare the hashtags.

  • Twitter: @TMobile
  • Facebook: @TMobile

We hope T-Mobile will continue to improve on its customer service and keep pushing out transparent, easy-to-understand pricing. Because being able to understand what you’ll owe each month is important.

Recap: How is T-Mobile service?

Here’s the TL;DR for how T-Mobile ranks.

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  • Plans: T-Mobile offers a basic plan, Essentials, and a mid-tier plan, called ONE. Overall, we’re pleased that T-Mobile plans are easy to understand—and that most of its advertised prices include taxes and fees. Oh, and there’s no activation fee.
  • Performance: If you live in a city, you’ll probably have no problems with coverage, but if you live in a rural or suburban area, it might be hit-or-miss. And we think T-Mobile deserves a silver medal for speed.
  • Customer service: Odds are, you’ll be well taken care of by T-Mobile’s customer service team. We personally found in-person interactions to be really helpful. (The call center, not so much.)
  • T-Mobile review takeaway: If you want to balance price with features, we think T-Mobile is a great pick. It won’t cost you as much as Verizon, although you might run into coverage issues depending on where you live.

Additional contributors

Catherine McNally