The new iPhone is expected to be unveiled this Wednesday at an Apple event in San Francisco, but it won’t be the only iPhone-related launches that day. T-Mobile USA has been largely left out of the iPhone fun to date; the carrier has been unable to secure a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone at a subsidized rate on its network.
Before you start getting your hopes up, T-Mobile will not be offering a subsidized iPhone when the device launches later this month. Instead, this Wednesday the company will launch an extensive in-store marketing effort that will attempt to encourage customers to bring their unlocked AT&T iPhones to T-Mobile’s network to take advantage of T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network.
The problem is that T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network currently runs largely on spectrum not supported by the iPhone, though the company has stated it is refarming its network to bring HSPA+ to iPhone-compatible frequencies, though details of the refarm have not yet fully materialized. Similarly, the next iPhone will bring LTE support, a next-generation service offered in various capacities by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, with T-Mobile expected to begin rolling out LTE sometime in 2013. Even with the new iPhone, then, customers who choose to bring their service to T-Mobile will continue to run on last-generation’s technology.
By choosing to not subsidize the iPhone, T-Mobile can offer customers cheaper phone and data plans they feel will save customers significant cash over the life of the standard two-year contract. The plans T-Mobile offers start at $60 per month, offering $40-50 savings over the Mobile Share plans recently launched by competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
In an effort to show customers the advantages provided by the iPhone 4S on T-Mobile’s network, the company will have an iPhone 4S on display in several stores, and T-Mobile’s sales team will help potential customers swap out their AT&T iPhone SIM for one of Magenta’s. T-Mobile is also working on iOS versions of its carrier branded applications, including Visual Voicemail, myAccount, and T-Mobile TV.
Of course, the company is hoping that would-be customers are able and willing to purchase an iPhone outright, with the entry-level iPhone 4S currently selling for $649. Buying phones off-contract is a virtually non-existent practice in the United States, though the model does well across Europe and other markets. There’s no sign of customers warming to the unsubsidized model, either, though that won’t stop T-Mobile from trying to woo you away from the clutches of the two-year contract.