T-Mobile is today announcing the first unified plan it’s offering to all customers of the combined T-Mobile / Sprint mega-carrier. Starting on July 24th, the company will offer four lines of unlimited data for $25 per line (if you enable autopay), totaling $100 each month. 5G access is included as part of the plan, and T-Mobile will also throw in a Samsung Galaxy A71 5G if you pay a few extra dollars per month.
But as usual with wireless plans, there are caveats. First, it’s always worth underlining that T-Mobile Essentials limits you to standard definition video quality when on the mobile network. You’ve got to move up to the Magenta Plus plan if you want HD on the go while away from Wi-Fi. T-Mobile says “Verizon’s lowest priced 5G plan, which will get you Verizon 5G roughly 0.4 percent of the time, will cost you almost $1,000 more a year” — but Verizon’s Play More plan ($45 per line for four lines) includes 5G access, HD streaming, free Apple Music, and a free year of Disney Plus — so there are clear reasons why it costs more. (T-Mobile’s new promotion doesn’t include the “Netflix on Us” promotion you can get with the carrier’s more expensive Magenta plan.)
Even so, $25 per line is certainly cheap. But another thing to factor in is that T-Mobile Essentials customers are always the first ones to get slowed down as a result of network congestion. All postpaid customers can potentially see reduced speeds after using over 50GB in a month (regardless of their plan), but T-Mobile says that people on the Essentials plan “may notice speeds lower than other customers” at any time.
As you’ll see exemplified in the video from CEO Mike Sievert above, executives at the new T-Mobile are gloating about the huge, fast, and dependable network they’ve created by merging T-Mobile and Sprint. But the asterisks that come with the Essentials plan don’t quite align with that braggadocio. You just combined two major carriers and still need to cap mobile video at 480p? Verizon and AT&T also restrict video to SD on their cheapest plans. These companies all want to wring more money out of you.
In the end, you might not care about these limitations if it means a cheaper $100-per-month bill for your family or small business. (One last thing to note: T-Mobile’s “taxes and fees included in advertised price” don’t apply to the Essentials plan, so you’ll end up paying a bit more.)
A more immediate change that all existing T-Mobile and Sprint customers will see is unified branding starting on August 2nd. That’s the day that Sprint stores will undergo a name change to T-Mobile. This should be a legitimately good thing for subscribers, as both T-Mobile and Sprint customers will now have a wider selection of retail stores to visit for shopping and support. Last week, T-Mobile announced Scam Shield, its most comprehensive attempt yet at stopping spam callers from being such a nuisance to customers.