When someone allows you to carry a smartphone in your pocket for $30 a month, it’s worth taking note of. When that someone also realizes that there are people on the planet that use way more data than minutes, we say kudos to you. In this case, the kudos go to the T-Mobile Monthly 4G plan and their $30 – 100 minute, unlimited text & data plan.
The pricing on this plan is extremely low but it is definitely geared at the text and data user. With only 100 minutes of talk time included, it sets up well for a VoIP setup using Google Voice on Android. If you choose to use a different OS, you’ll want to watch those minutes carefully. Don’t stress too much over the overage fees though, extra minutes on this plan will only set you back $.10 each.
The plan includes the 100 minutes, unlimited text and picture messaging and 5GB of 4G data on T-Mobile’s network. After the 5GB cap, you aren’t cut off, just slowed to 2G speeds. The.$.10 per minute overage means an extra 100 minutes will only setting you back an additional $10.00 a month.
Cost Rating: 7
T-Mobile has some great device choices for their $30 prepaid options. You can select from any T-Mobile device, most major unlocked devices and even sneak in that iPhone (albeit on 2G at the moment.) For off the shelf buying, you can select anything from a $30 dumb phone to a $350 Lumia 710. While they may not have the exact model you want, the ability to purchase any T-Mobile device at full retail (many of which are under $500) and use it with this economy plan is certainly a bonus.
Device Selection: 9
Our markets experienced only greatness from T-Mobile Customer Service, but we were appalled by what we read on various forums including the T-Mobile support forums. We know to take these rants with a grain of salt because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but honestly, it’s scary to read how people have devices that don’t work, they can’t get help and they have no where to turn to.
Our experiences at stores were pleasant at best. We ran into a few people that refused to acknowledge a few issues on devices like the Samsung Exhibit 2 4G, but for the most part, T-Mobile did a decent job of taking care of our concerns. While we didn’t have any glaring issues, we would like to see a bit more support for the prepaid subscriber or maybe just make the stores show prepaid subscribers the same respect that they do to their post-paid subs.
Customer Service: 7
Coverage for T-Mobile in our 4 test markets was very up and down. 4G coverage was spotty at best, and most of our devices dropped from their 3.5G coverage to 2G pretty quickly. Voice quality was good in all our market tests, but dropped calls were more than present in all four areas. Roughly put, if you are a city dweller that spends most of your time in the metropolitan areas, T-Mobile is a great choice. For the suburbanite, be prepared for areas of poor to no coverage and some dropped calls – especially indoors where signals are weaker.
Fortunately, in the areas where T-Mobile’s coverage is lacking, their Android offerings include “Wi-Fi” calling. This means you can make calls over your home or office Wi-Fi for no additional charges. This will still use minutes, so be careful and watch those long calls when using this service.
T-Mobile has really set the bar high with their 100 minute 5GB high speed data plan for $30. There’s nothing even close to it on the market today for the tech savvy person. This plan is perfect for the low minute using, high data consumer that doesn’t want to get locked in to another 2 year deal. Phones are easily available from retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon for great prices – we highly recommend the Android powered Samsung Exhibit II 4G in the $200 price point.
With a setup like the Exhibit and GrooVeIP, the techie can get setup with an unlimited calling plan for $30 a month over Wi-Fi and only depend on the 5GB of data and 100 minutes of voice for on the road and emergencies. As a bonus, if you live in an area with 80K/s bandwidth, you can completely forget about those 100 minutes all together and just use that data connection for VoIP service through Google Voice.
Overall though, the 100 minute plan is a great option for those that are looking for text and data with a few minutes to call people here and there. The coverage was good, the service was above average and the device selection is pretty amazing. The best part, if you head over those 100 minutes, the $.10 overage fee isn’t a killer at all. Just make sure to stock up that prepaid balance before you run out of cash on it.