T-Mobile Cell Phone Plans Review 2020
Do you remember when Usain Bolt looked back at his competition in the 2008 Olympics as he was crossing the finish line? Epic. T-Mobile similarly crosses the data speeds finish line before other providers. Almost as epic.
Long story short, T-Mobile offers straight-up pricing, super-fast speeds, and unlimited data. 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
You’ve got three different T-Mobile unlimited plans to choose from, and you’ll probably get the most value from the Essentials plan. The main difference between the Essentials plan and the more expensive Magenta plans has to do with international coverage and hotspot data.
If you travel abroad often or depend on hotspot data for work on the go, it makes sense to opt for one of the two Magenta plans. But if you’re like us and just want the peace of mind of unlimited data (which means streaming live sports and gaming as much as we want), you can get your bill down to $60 a month with the Essentials plan.
Whichever T-Mobile unlimited plan you choose, you’ll get the fastest data speeds to go along with it.
We’ll put those T-Mobile phone prices to the test and compare them with the other best cell phone plan 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 Sprint’s prices, 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
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 slightly inferior hamburger at Five Guys. (That’s right, I said it.)
What about T-Mobile non-unlimited plans?
T-Mobile recently moved away from offering non-unlimited plans, and it’s a real bummer for those of us looking for a cheaper cell phone plan. The only way to find a non-unlimited T-Mobile wireless plan is by going the prepaid route.
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 and Sprint don’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.
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.
Expect T-Mobile to carry all the latest models of the phones you like. You want a new Google Pixel? T-Mobile should have it. Want the new iPhone 11? T-Mobile got it. How about Galaxy S10? Yep.
|Make||Models available||Learn more|
|iPhone||iPhone 11/XR/Max iPhone XS / XR / X, iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, iPhone 7 / 7 Plus, iPhone SE||View Prices|
|Samsung||Galaxy S10 / S10e / S10 Plus, Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus, Galaxy Note9||View Prices|
|Pixel 4, Pixel 3a / 3aXL, Pixel 3 / 3XL||View 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.
T-Mobile currently ranks fourth in terms of popularity—which is sort of surprising. Probably most folks have a hard time turning down Sprint’s cheap prices and Verizon’s reliable coverage. Don’t be surprised if T-Mobile jumps up in the rankings in a few months, once Sprint and AT&T merge.
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.
T-Mobile covers 94% of the country, which makes it second place overall, falling just behind Verizon.1 Things get dicey in more rural regions—like Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Iowa, and the Dakotas. You can count on T-Mobile in more densely populated areas, but you’ll want to be careful when venturing through the beautiful Northwest.
If you want to be sure your area is covered, check out T-Mobile’s interactive coverage map.
T-Mobile data speeds
This is where T-Mobile takes the cake. T-Mobile averages 21.1 Mbps download speeds, which means you can expect Instagram stories, apps, and everything else to pull up
To put that number into context, Sprint averages a lowly 13.9 Mbps and AT&T averages a solid 17.8 Mbps.1 T-Mobile pulls way ahead in the data speeds category, and that makes a big difference when doing basically anything on your device.
T-Mobile customer service
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.
- Plans: T-Mobile offers three unlimited plans: Essentials, which has just the basics, and two more feature-rich plans, called Magenta and Magenta Plus. Overall, T-Mobile plans are easy to understand—and it really helps that 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.
1. OpenSignal, “Mobile Network Experience Report January 2019”
2. OpenSignal, “The 4G Battle Continues Between T-Mobile and Verizon”
Catherine McNally and Easton Smith