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T-Mobile's new contract-free pricing plans: $70 per month for unlimited data, talk, and text

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T-mobile store logo (1020)
T-mobile store logo (1020)

As expected, T-Mobile has pulled the wraps off a new plan structure that eliminates two-year contracts altogether, part of its upcoming "Uncarrier" initiative to streamline pricing. A base price of $50 per month buys you 500MB of high-speed data (with overage-free throttled data after that), unlimited voice minutes, and unlimited texts; you can step up to 2GB of data for $60 per month, get unlimited data on the phone alone for $70 per month, or up to 12GB of hotspot data through tiers of up to $110 a month. The new plans would seem to complete T-Mobile's move away from deeply-subsidized phones in exchange for two-year agreements, a bold strategy that the other nationals — Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon — have yet to adopt.

To go along with these new plans, T-Mobile announced new unsubsidized device pricing — the iPhone 5 will cost $99 up front, but will also carry a $20 per month charge. If you leave the carrier before the 24 months are up, you can receive a "fair market value credit" to put towards the full cost of the phone. Somewhat surprisingly, phones are sold locked — T-Mobile says that they are unlocked when traded back in or paid off.

T-Mobile's pricing undercuts its rivals considerably. The tradeoff, of course, is coverage and a lack of LTE service — something its competitors have all now launched — but that's about to change: the first T-Mobile LTE markets are now live. T-Mobile CEO John Legere certainly thinks that his company has figured out what consumers want from a wireless carrier — during an event announcing the new plans, Legere blasted T-Mobile's competition, saying that current wireless plans were "the biggest crock of shit in my life."

Update, 3/26/12: As expected, T-Mobile announced its new plans today at an event in New York City that also saw the carrier introduce the iPhone 5 running on its its new LTE network.