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T-Mobile prepaid vs. contract??

Discussion in 'T-Mobile' started by dvlucke, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. dvlucke

    dvlucke Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Besides getting a subsidized phone, are there any other advantages to going the 2-year contract route with T-Mobile?

    I'm currently with Virgin Mobile. I live in Detroit, where it looks like T-Mobile is second only to Verizon (which I can't afford). I'd like as much phone as possible of course, so I'm thinking about going back to a contract.

    However, it seems like with the monthly expenses of each option ($30 for prepaid, $80 for 4G contract), I might be better off to just put an unsubsidized phone on my credit card and use the extra $50 a month to pay down the credit card.

    With T-Mobile, is there a difference between the actual phones for prepaid and contract, or just a difference in SIM card?

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  2. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    There is no difference between the phones, you can actually use any phone on Prepaid that works on T-Mobile's network. Contract users to get "priority", meaning faster speeds when towers are being hit by a lot of usage. Additionally, you don't get data roaming on prepaid, though T-Mobile prepaid does have voice and text roaming. Also, you can't get additional numbers on the plan discounted, you have to have an individual prepaid plan for each SIM card.

    One other option, if you don't want to go prepaid, is to buy one of the value plans. It is a contract plan but does not subsidize the phone, though they do offer no-interest loans if you want to buy a phone. The prices typically for the value plans are between the subsidized contracts and prepaid, but it keeps contract roaming and allows for multiple SIMs on the same account.
    scotty85 and tube517 like this.
  3. dvlucke

    dvlucke Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Detroit is well covered, and I don't travel often so roaming isn't a big deal to me, nor is the multiple numbers.

    Since I'm prepaid now with VM, I can make the switch anytime. From a phone selection point of view, what do you think the best timing is to make the switch? I'd like Jelly Bean if possible. I'd say if I go contract, I'd be more concerned with getting the most phone I can afford.
    scotty85 likes this.
  4. Petrah

    Petrah Psychotic Female

    Just out of curiosity, where does this information come from? I've seen this said a lot of times on different carrier forums, but I've never seen anything official by a carrier stating this to be so.

    Just curious... you know me, I wanna learn. :)
    scotty85 likes this.
  5. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    There is likely a better place you can find this, but at the bottom of the Prepaid Cell Phone Plans there is this, "Network Management: Data traffic of Premium and Ultra plans will be prioritized over other currently offered plans during periods of congestion."

    As for Virgin Mobile, I've not seen any actual statements and there likely aren't any that are available to the public. Priority would be determined by the contract between Sprint and Virgin Mobile, and is not anything that Virgin is required to provide to end users. Of course, this is largely true for any MVNO, since it would be the network operator doing the prioritizing and not the Prepaid provider. However, there have been various speed tests done by independent groups, such as this one, that show there is often a great deal of speed difference between similar devices on Sprint and Virgin.
    scotty85, Petrah and tube517 like this.
  6. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    My recommendation is to buy the Nexus 4 from Google. This phone is getting great reviews from both the media and from users and, at $350 for the 16GB with a fast quad core processor, is a lot of phone for the money.

    As for timing, I'd say whenever it gets back in stock, which should be sometime in the next month. You can buy the SIM Card Activation Kit at any time, it is just 99 cents, has free shipping, and you have two years to activate it.
    scotty85 likes this.
  7. chrlswltrs

    chrlswltrs Extreme Android User

    I think the only advantage is data. I don't think prepaid offers an unlimited data plan. They have "unlimited" plans that throttle you after a small amount of data, but on a contract you get unlimited 4G.
    scotty85 likes this.
  8. Fuzzy13

    Fuzzy13 Extreme Android User

    The plans on the Value side are a little better in terms of options. You have a lot more choices so that is a plus. But it comes with a contract.

    If you have your own phone, I think the $30 5GB or the $60 2GB plan with no contract is just right.

    In the end, no contract is still the best way to go. If T mobile's monthly 4G plans don't work for you then there is always straight talk and I've had no issues with ST when I was using them.
    scotty85 likes this.
  9. scotty85

    scotty85 Extreme Android User

    i use t mobile $30/month plan just to mess with gsm phones,and i like it. i does limit speeds after 5gb,but i never use anywhere near that. if i were going to switch to t mobile full time,id move up to the $50 unlimited everything plan.

    my only advice is to use an actual t mobile phone. you also use unlocked international phones,just make sure they support the 1700 band that t mobile uses partially for 3G,and HSPA+(their 4G).

    phones that do not support this band will only get edge data,wich kinda sucks ;) this rules out any att devices,and quite a few international ones :(
  10. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    The problem with the $50 plan is that you only get 100 MB of 3G/4G data, after 100 MB it is slowed to Edge speeds. To get 5GB of 3G data you need the $70 plan ($60 gives 2GB unthrottled data).
    scotty85 likes this.
  11. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    If you live in an area that T-Mobile has 'ref armed' to also use the 1900 band you can use any international or AT&T phone as well.

    Linux user #266351. Android since v1.0
    scotty85 likes this.
  12. chrlswltrs

    chrlswltrs Extreme Android User

    Are you talking about pre paid? I'm on a family plan so I don't know the pricing for sure on individual plans, but post paid is unlimited. On a family value plan it is $20 a month for unlimited data ($25 a month for 5gb with tethering, throttled after that)

    I've noticed a big difference in connection consistency the last couple weeks since 1900 got turned on here in Seattle.
    scotty85 likes this.
  13. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    Yes, I was talking prepaid. And like you are talking about, Prepaid is also technically "unlimited data", but throttled after you've used your data. On postpaid T-Mobile does have some true unlimited data plans (no throttling).
    scotty85 likes this.
  14. scotty85

    scotty85 Extreme Android User

    where do you see anything about throttling 3g?

    from t mobile $50:
    i could deal with unlimited 3g,and 100 mb of 4g ;)

    if they really are slowing down to edge speed after 100mb,i could go up to the $60 if i had to...im in wifi at home,and i never use anywhere 2mb of actual data.

    im lookin forward to that in ohio... i dont really want to give up my t mobile,but my current favorite phone is an international one x. ive had thots of switching to straight talk :(
  15. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    Where do you see that you'll get "3g" speeds after your 100MB?

    The poster you are quoting got his info from people that have reached their data cap. T-Mobile throttles heavily after that, based on others experiences, to around dial-up speeds.

    Here's an example: http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1763109-I-ve-just-been-throttled!
    scotty85 likes this.
  16. scotty85

    scotty85 Extreme Android User

    i dont see it anywhere,thats why i asked ;)

    ive got 5gb now and never even use over 1gb,so i have absolutely no personal experience with throttling after the cap is reached.
  17. bob60626

    bob60626 Android Enthusiast

    I'm throttled right now (a bit over 5 gigs). I went from hitting over twenty mbps to .06. :D
    Pandora works ok, not great, but I haven't bothered trying to get past the Netflix menu. I dislike that though the phone has shown 4g, 3g, G, and E depending on signal strength it is still showing 4g even though I'm throttled.
  18. Citizen Coyote

    Citizen Coyote Android Enthusiast

    The other big difference no one has mentioned between the contract plans (either the normal or the value plans) and the prepaid 4G plans is the latter do not have data roaming. The contract plans offer some data roaming depending on what plan you have, but the prepaid plans have no data when off T-Mobile's network (they do still have call roaming).
  19. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    On this page, in the fine print at the bottom: "Where indicated, full speeds available up to data allotment; then slowed up to 2G speeds."

    So T-Mobile, if you read the fine print, tells you plus, as others have posted, it is also what people experience when they go over their data cap.
    scotty85 likes this.
  20. chong67

    chong67 Android Expert

    When my Sprint contract runs out, I plan to get T-mobile prepaid.

    If I am on the $30 plan with 5 GB of data and 100 minutes, can I subscribe to Skype for $3 to make phone call? Does T-mobile blocks that app?
  21. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    I haven't tried Skype on my phone, though it shouldn't have a problem. I use GrooveIP with Google Voice to make VoIP calls.
  22. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    If you are thinking of the $60 play, I'd take a look at Straight Talk. You can get a SIM for either the AT&T or T-Mobile networks with unlimited talk for $45. From what I've read, they typically don't cut off data on the AT&T SIMs until after 2GB, and after 4GB on the T-Mobile SIMs.
    scotty85 and chong67 like this.
  23. chong67

    chong67 Android Expert

    Thanks for this TIP! So if I have all my contact saved, then I just click on a contact name and it will use GrooveIP with Google Voice. What a wonderful idea. I cant do anything now until my Sprint contract is over in July and no more contracts for me.
  24. tube517

    tube517 Android Expert

    Yeah, GrooveIP w/Google Voice is what I use also. I haven't even touched my 100 minutes and I'm half way through the billing cycle.
    chong67 likes this.
  25. chong67

    chong67 Android Expert

    It looks like you can get the $30 and $50 monthly prepaid from other places like eb, etc. at a little lower prices and pay no tax.

    This is a lot of savings man.

    Why would I want to do contract again. I have been buying new phone from eb too. And if you are paranoid, get ST insurance.

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