Thursday, April 11, 2013

T-Mobile iPhone 5 trade-in promo tempts iPhone 4, 4S owners

T-Mobile USA has long pined for a native -- not unlocked or jailbroken -- iPhone on its network. With that desire about to be fulfilled on Friday, the nation's fourth largest carrier announced a trade-in policy on Wednesday, one that encourages users to trade in their old iPhones for a brand-new T-Mobile USA iPhone 5.

Those who trade in an iPhone 4 or 4S -- that's right, even a model with technology two versions out of date -- will receive an iPhone 5 gratis (up front). Not only that, they will receive a $120 credit toward the monthly device fee. The promotion runs through Father’s Day on June 16.

Normally, an iPhone 5 costs $99.99 for a T-Mobile USA customer. Remember that T-Mobile no longer has a standard device subsidy, but its Simple Choice plans whereby a customer pays an additional $20 a month over two years to cover the remaining cost of the device. With a $120 credit after the trade-in, that addition cost is cut in half.

Of course, T-Mobile USA will allow customers to use that $120 in pretty much any way they want, including the purchase of accessories or another device. The credit can also be used for the monthly device payments or an existing T-Mobile USA bill.

T-Mobile recently announced 4G LTE service in seven major metropolitan areas, although it will play catch-up to Verizon, AT&T and even Sprint for a long time. Its LTE support regions include Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C.

Despite trailing the other Big Four carriers, T-Mobile says its 4G LTE network will reach 100 million people by mid-year and 200 million nationally by the end of 2013. Its (faux) 4G HSPA+ network already reaches 225 million people in 229 metropolitan areas.

Mike Sievert, T-Mobile USA's CMO, said:
Our message to iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 customers is simple: bring in your device and trade up to iPhone 5 on T-Mobile. We’re making it incredibly attractive to buy an iPhone 5 by pairing an un-beatable upfront price and trade-in offer with Simple Choice, the most hassle-free and affordable rate plan in wireless.
The promotion is attractive, but no matter what, T-Mobile still trails the other in terms of network coverage, and that is what it will have to fight -- rather than other carriers -- to gain market share.

As part of that improved network capability, T-Mobile is striving to complete its merger with MetroPCS. Ironically coinciding with the release of the iPhone 5, T-mobile's shareholders meet Friday to vote on the proposed sale.

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