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Yesterday, Noah Kravitz, Editor-in-Chief of Phonedog.com came to me and asked for an opportunity to jot down some thoughts and put his recent feelings of Magenta into perspective. As we love his video reviews over here, of course we said yes and the following are his thoughts on the T-Mobile perspective. Enjoy!
There are things I love about all four major wireless carriers in the U.S., and things I love about some of the smaller cellular providers, too. And there are, to be sure, things I don’t so much love about ‘em all, as well.
Being tasked with writing an op-ed for Wireless Week a short while ago made me think about the time I’ve spent with T-Mobile, both recently and long ago. Time spent on an Ericsson T28 in New York City back when the network was called Voicestream. Time spent on a Sony Ericsson w800 Walkman phone that was imported from Japan through a mom and pop shop in Berkeley, CA. Time spent getting 8+ Mbps down during an HSPA+ test in a makeshift show floor cubicle in Las Vegas.
I’m not about to endorse T-Mo over any other carrier (or vice-versa), but I figured while I was feeling the Magenta I’d ask David if I could eat up some space on his blog with a love letter to your and his favorite carrier. For the record, Verizon has a better ratio of coverage and reliability to speed, Sprint offers better value, and AT&T has the iPhone. So T-Mo ain’t perfect. But …
First off, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network kicks butt. Well, it kicks butt if it works where you are. I test a lot of phones and test every network that covers my neck of the woods, and T-Mo devices generally work really well for me. Even my Nexus One loaner performed well when I had it, though I hear that’s not the case for everyone. What I saw of T-Mo’s HSPA+ 21 service in action at CTIA in April was nothing to sneeze at, either.
Forget the talk about 4G for a moment, and focus on what you can actually get right now. T-Mo users in areas lit up for HSPA+ are getting “4G” speeds as I write this. Right now. Sure, Sprint users in areas lit up for WiMax are getting that, too, but there aren’t as many of those areas or users. Also, they can’t do voice and data at the same time, and they have to buy new equipment to get on that 4G network. You? If you have a recently purchased high-end T-Mo phone, odds are you can get with HSPA 7.2 right now, no new phone required.
Next, and more importantly, T-Mo has always been about the value. Sprint may have a leg up on Magenta with their 450 minutes + unlimited data = $69.99/month plan, but if you step up to 900 minutes or unlimited talk and data, the carriers are on even ground. And if you bring your own phone to the party, T-Mo will give you all you can talk, message, and surf for eighty bucks a month ($150 for a two-line family plan). Nobody can touch that. Well, maybe MetroPCS can, but they’re not national and I HATE their new commercials, so they don’t count.
And now Magenta’s gone and offered up this five dollar add a line promotion. I don’t even want to know the details. I just like that you can add a line for five bucks. That’s less than the cost of one of those nasty new KFC Double Down “sandwiches,” I bet. Crazy.
Also, I like how other carriers are trying to push out their new Femotcell signal boosters while T-Mo has long offered UMA calling over WiFi that’s compatible with equipment you probably already own (a fancy “UMA ready” router with a T-Mo sticker on it is – or was – also available). Awhile back I reviewed the BlackBerry 8900 and was blown away by how easy and effective T-Mobile @Home (then HotSpot @Home) was, not to mention that they didn’t charge you for voice minutes during Wi-Fi calls. I’m not sure what the future of the service is given that only four Wi-Fi Calling-compatible phones (all BlackBerrys) currently display on the T-Mo site. But I can tell you that an iPhone with UMA support would make millions of AT&T customers a lot happier. Instead, AT&T’s pushing their “3G Microcell” thingy, which will run you $150 up front and an extra $20/mo for the unlimited voice minutes option.
Then there’s the whole myFaves thing. On the one hand, myFaves-type services and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling are pretty much ubiquitous these days. On the other hand, Magenta got Charles Barkley and D-Wade to do “Who’s in your five?” commercials for them, and they also had that one ad where the Dad says, “Maybe you should have uglier friends.” T-Mo’s ads rule (though I am a softie for that one AT&T ad where the girl sticks her monkey in the briefcase … but anyway).
And last but not least, when iPhone first came out I was still under contract with T-Mobile and didn’t want to take on a second monthly bill, but had to get one to cover it for the site. So I wound up running an unlocked iPhone on T-Mo. More than once I called T-Mobile customer support for some reason or another, and the folks on the other end of the line were gracious and friendly towards me even though their network had identified me as using an unlocked iPhone on T-Mo. If anything, one or two of ‘em worked extra hard to do what they could to keep me satisfied, since me using an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile was better to them than me jumping to AT&T for a locked iPhone.
Kinda makes sense, huh?
So while I again repeat that I have no favorite carrier, T-Mobile or otherwise, I do have a lot of love for Magenta that’s been built up over the years.
And this is just my opinion, but that myTouch Slide 3G that’s going to launch next month? It’s the coolest T-Mo phone I’ve seen in quite some time. Who cares if it “only” has a 600 MHz processor and not a 1Ghz Snapdragon? Android 2.1 + Sense + A good QWERTY board could = Big Win for T-Mobile. I can’t wait to find out.