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T-Mobile Cell Phone Plans Review 2021
If you’re looking for fast speeds and unlimited plan prices with no gotchas, T-Mobile is a clear winner.
T-Mobile offers the best wireless speeds out of any other major network, along with straight-up and relatively affordable pricing. The only place where T-Mobile slightly misses the mark is with its wireless coverage.
T-Mobile unlimited plans
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
How good is T-Mobile performance?
Heading into 2021, T-Mobile currently owns the title belt for both fastest download speeds and upload speeds. We sampled tens of thousands of wireless users and T-Mobile came out on top with an average download speed of 32.7 Mbps and an average upload speed of 12.9 Mbps. Observe in the bar graph below how T-Mobile flexes on the competition when it comes to data speeds.
Basically, you can expect basically everything to be faster on T-Mobile's wireless network versus Verizon or AT&T. You can download apps faster, buffer streams more quickly, and upload your video to Instagram quickly as well.
Out of the three major networks, T-Mobile currently has the weakest coverage overall. For context, here's the rankings at it stands now when it comes to wireless coverage.1
- Verizon: 70% 4G Cell Phone Coverage
- AT&T: 68% 4G Cell Phone Coverage
- T-Mobile: 62% 4G Cell Phone Coverage
Before you consider switching to T-Mobile, make sure to check your neck of the woods in the coverage map below.
T-Mobile coverage map
T-Mobile cell phones and devices
Whatever phone you want to use, you can plan on using it on T-Mobile's network. You can use the latest iPhone devices or Android devices. Here's the most popular cell phone's on T-Mobile's network right now.
Be ready to share your credit score if you sign up for a lease on a new phone. 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 three 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.
T-Mobile customer service: What’s the deal?
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?
- 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: T-Mobile boasts the best network data speeds, but its coverage lacks a bit, especially in rural areas of the country.
- 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 fast data speeds, look no further than T-Mobile. Just make sure you get coverage in your area, first.