Where T-Mobile goes, the industry follows.
While the recent unlimited wars were ostensibly kicked off last month when Verizon introduced a long-in-the-making unlimited plan, the seeds of it were actually sown well before by T-Mobile. The self-described "Un-Carrier" saw big returns from its all-in, affordable unlimited plans over the previous year, upping both its subscriber base and stock price. This convinced the likes of Sprint, AT&T and the aforementioned Verizon to adapt their own unlimited offerings to remain competitive.
T-Mobile has continued to stay ahead of the pack with their willingness to alter or add to their plans on a dime. Currently, the company offers one primary unlimited plan: the appropriately named T-Mobile One, along with slight variants in One Plus and One Plus International. Here's how the One plan stacks up against the competition:
As the above illustrates, T-Mobile One compares favorably to the competition both in terms of price and features. However, there's a lot more to the plan than what you see in the chart. Let's pop open the hood.
T-MOBILE ONE OVERVIEW
T-Mobile One offers unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data for a very reasonable $70 a month (with auto pay). Crucially, this price includes all taxes and fees, unlike the advertised prices of the other carriers. This brings the One cell phone plan even closer to the cheapest unlimited plan in the major carrier market, Sprint's Unlimited Freedom.
Also included with the One plan:
- Unlimited HD video streaming
- 10GB of hotspot usage
- Unlimited talk, text and data to and within Mexico and Canada
- Unlimited text and data in more than 140 countries and destinations (more on this later)
- 1 hour of free in-flight texting and data on Gogo-enabled flights
Two lines on the One plan are $100, and each additional one is $20. This pricing bests all but Sprint.
T-MOBILE ONE PLUS
One Plus is identical to One, with except for the addition of a few key features. For an extra $5 a month, you also get:
- Unlimited in-flight WiFi on Gogo-enabled flights
- Visual voicemail/name ID
Frequent fliers will likely find the unlimited in-flight WiFi an irresistible perk for a paltry $5 more a month.
ONE PLUS INTERNATIONAL
One Plus International is yet another variant of the One plan. It costs $25 more, includes all of the benefits of One and One Plus, and adds the following:
- Unlimited 4G LTE hotspot allowance
- Unlimited international calling to landlines in 70 countries, mobile phones in 30 countries
If you rely frequently on your phone for WiFi connections to other devices, One Plus International is probably worth investing in. No other plan on the market allows for unlimited hotspot use at 4G speeds.
$15 INTERNATIONAL ADD-ON
If the international privileges of the One Plus International plan sound appealing but you don't need all of the other stuff (like unlimited hotspot usage), you can tack on just that part to your One plan for $15 a month.
T-Mobile doesn't "de-prioritize" users' data to slower speeds until they hit 30GB in a month, which is 7GB more generous than runner-up Sprint. This is a definite plus if you're a heavy data user, and another reason that T-Mobile boasts arguably the most attractive unlimited plan out there.
Binge On is T-Mobile's "video attenuator." When you turn it on, all movies are streamed in standard definition instead of HD, making it identical in nature to AT&T's Stream Saver. This can be a great way to conserve data; it would take 43 hours of standard definition Netflix streaming to hit the 30GB threshold, compared to a mere 10 hours of HD streaming. Like Stream Saver, Binge On is automatically enabled on eligible lines, so you have to switch it off manually if you want full-strength HD video. This can be done via your account dashboard or by calling T-Mobile directly.
One unpublicized detail about Binge On is that when you have it on while tethering/hotspotting, the data docked by the SD streaming will go towards your phone's 30GB threshold and not towards your 10GB hotspot allowance. In other words, you can stream Netflix on your computer or tablet to your heart's delight, and totally avoid hotspot drain. Of course, on the One Plus International plan you don't have to worry about this in the first place, since it includes an unlimited 4G LTE hotspot allowance.
T-Mobile now offers $10 off their One plans (with auto pay) when you use less than 2GB per month; after this limit has been reached, speeds are slowed. An unlimited plan with a 2GB sounds pointless, you say? Well, don't forget, you're still getting the following key benefits from the One plan:
- Unlimited calling to and from the U.S., Mexico and Canada
- Unlimited domestic and international text and data in 140+ countries and destinations
- Unlimited nationwide and international data in 140+ countries with 4G LTE speed data available throughout the U.S, Mexico and Canada