The Things I Love About Magenta

Yesterday, Noah Kravitz, Editor-in-Chief of 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.

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  • trees247

    When are we gonna get the nexus one in stores?

    • binfartin

      I think that will be on….. Never.

      • mmaxxsooner

        Dunno since google got stiffed by sprint and verizon it would make since to get off their high horse and let t-mob carry in stores at least to save some face on their sales numbers. But google is proud and will likely just live with crappy sales. Dumb they could quadruple sales by taking it in store.

  • wasup

    5 lines, unlimited texts for all, tmo to tmo, unlimited minutes wkends and nights, and one unlimited BB data plan = 150$/month

    no other phone company can even come close to that price

    but now, lets see them superphones :D

    • VDubb

      All companies come close. Verizon and AT&T would be $160/m (700 min, unlimited messaging, unlimited mobile-to-mobile, unlimited nights/weekends, and one BB unlimited plan). Hell, with Sprint you can get it for $155/m (by signing up for EPRP which is ridiculously easy) with unlimited messaging AND data for all lines, any mobile anytime, unlimited nights/weekends, which is a much better deal than what your paying. A little research goes a long way.

      – VDubb

      • watbetch

        Obviously he’s speaking of the Even More 1500 talk+text for all lines with one BB data pack. It’s $149.99. Verizon requires an extra data pack on all phones besides the basic ones and AT&T requires a messaging or data pack with all phones that have a keyboard.
        Sprint is garbage. They have Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk – a subsidiary undercutting their own prices. Get 5 Beyond Talk lines and you’ve got a family plan that’s better than what Sprint will give you with their “exclusive” plans.

      • zapote21

        Not quite… I have done my research… I have 5 lines, 1500 mins, and 2 of those lines with unlimited data, and ALL lines with unlimited messaging…

        In order to go to Verizon, 2 lines, 1400 mins, unl data, and 500 msgs, is 179.00 WITHOUT taxes…

        Right now for those 5 lines, I pay 125.00 without taxes
        That is 50 bucks LESS per month for 5 lines, as opposed to 2…

        There is NO comparison…

      • DubbChubb

        ahhh yes, and let’s not forget that award winning customer service that Sprint, Verizon and AT&T offer….OH, they don’t????? my bad…. A little COMPLETE research goes a longer way moron!

      • @watbetch @zapote21 @DubbChubb You guys are all spot on! Speaking as a loyal T-Mo customer for 6 yrs who has an Even More Plus Family plan with 1500 mins, 3 lines, 2 Moto Cliq’s with unlimited everything (far as data is concerned) and by the way pay under $150! It’s a NO BRAINER

  • rushmore

    Tmo customer service ROCKS, but their phone selection and 3G coverage is more like elevator music ;) I know bigger cities have good coverage but us peeps not in big cities deal with 2G and NoG.

    I know a local tower tech that says they will have better coverage in my area within two years- live in KY. I will stay with Verizon until this happens. Thi assumes of course that Tmo has good phone options then and are still not using 7200 series chipsets and 480X320 displays ;)

  • Ryan

    T-mobile needs to work on increasing their market share if they want to be competitive in the long run. I don’t think there will be much defection from Verizon or AT&T to Tmobile, especially given that the best phones Tmobile is offering are an out of date Android phone and a Windows Mobile phone.

    In fact, I was looking at Verizon’s website this morning pricing out plans. I just found out from a Tmo rep that my grandfathered $20/mo data service will become $30 if I upgrade. For an extra $10 I might as well go to Verizon and get an Incredible.

    I know people will reply to this post and say that I’m the only person that plans to do this; however, I think the statistics for 2010 will show Tmobile losing ground to AT&T and Verizon.

    • nell_z

      Just to pick out some flaws in this statement: Verizon has three phones worth getting, the Droid, Droid Incredible and the Pre Plus. AT&T has three phones worth getting, the iPhone, Backflip and Pre Plus. FYI, they really should have the best, considering they both will run you about $30 a month higher on comparable rates to T-Mobile. And don’t get me started with Sprint. The first outting I had, I took it. They’re still running on phones they had last year and looking forward to one major release for the summer (two if the Galaxy goes to all four big carriers).

      At least T-Mobile’s making an attempt. The have the Nexus One, the Cliq, the Cliq XT(the only MotoBlur phone with multitouch), the HD2, the MyTouch 3G (with the sense update) and the upcoming MyTouch 3G Slide. If anything, T-Mobile has something for everyone and the Nexus Two (hopefully coming the end of this month) will complete the cycle. Lets not forget about the HTC Bravo rumor and the Nokia N8 passing FTC for T-Mobile’s banding. Other than service upgrades, what more do you want from T-Mobile?

      • nell_z

        Forgot the Dell phones (including the Mini 5) and Nokia S60. Also, add the Droid Devour and LG Ally to the Verizon list. Too many damn phones!

      • rushmore

        HD2 was a token offer since Sprint already had EVO locked up for them. Nexus has tech issues for some people and is being superseded before launch (that is rare) due to Incredible and Evo being superior. Droid is also a great device.

        HD2 was Tmo’s mega-device and has WM resource problems and the OS is DEAD. Not to mention no Flash for another new Tmo device.

      • john

        @rushmore, no flash? Ever heard of skyfire?

  • nell_z

    As much as I like the Slide, I still wanna wait for the Nexus Two.

    And having EVERY carrier (even the prepaid ones) in my area, I can honestly say, T-MOBILE IS THE BEST! Hands down! No competition. Too bad people don’t realize that.

  • There really is no doubt that T-Mobile has the best customer service out of all of the cell phone providers. I have (and will) continue to acknowledge it. But I think it’s important to also look at the areas that T-Mobile can improve on. 3G coverage is definitely a weak spot for T-Mobile. I go to school in East Lansing, MI and the coverage there is average to below average (and the capital of the state is right next door!). I drive back home (I live right outside of downtown Chicago) and my coverage is a LOT better in Chicago but during the drive my coverage is so-so (especially through Michigan and some parts of Indiana). Even in Chicago, there are some places where I get Edge or GPRS connectivity (and these areas are not rural areas, but well populated areas).

    The second thing that T-Mobile can work on is coming out with some solid high end phones. I know people talk about this a lot, but my viewpoint is slightly different. I think the MyTouch Slide is a TERRIFIC mid-range phone and am excited to see more of these types of phone on T-Mobile (because who are we kidding, the majority of customers on T-Mobile either want mid-range phones or just your normal cell phones). However, for those of us (pretty much everyone on this site) that want a high end phone, I think it would be to T-Mobile’s advantage to have a line of 4-5 high end phones to offer us.

    All in all, I am excited to see what T-Mobile has to offer in the next year or so to set themselves apart from the competition.

    • nell_z

      High end? (1) The Nexus One, (2) the upcoming Nexus 2, (3) the Dell Mini 5, (4) whatever that rumored Palm phone will be, (5) the Galaxy S (hopefully), (6) the Nokia N8, (7) at least one of the three LG phones that passed FTC for T-Mobile, (8) the HTC HD2 and (9) the HTC Bravo rumor still floating around.

      Name more if you know em.

      • zapote21

        And all unconfirmed. And the Nexus 1 is sold by Google, NOT TMO… Just hapens to be compatible with TMO

      • mad dog

        Dude if your gonna name drop phones only name the ones that are definitely coming to tmo. Don’t try to pass rumor and speculation off as fact.

      • eYe

        Yet, only one that you can test and get at the sore. All others are in the rumor category.

      • nell_z

        How is this unconfirmed? Dell Mini 5 is a fact, the Nexus Two is a fact, the HD2 is a fact, the three LG phones that passed FTC specifically for T-Mobile is a fact, the Palm phone is a fact, the Nokia N8 that passed FTC with T-Mobile banding is a fact. And now “Project Emerald”. Some were rumors and speculation, but the majority are fact…..

    • Roger

      While Tmobile may have the “best” customer service, that doesn’t meant it is consistently the case. And of course disgruntled customers tell far more people than happy ones. For example I had an issue an with my lemon of a phone (BB Flip) and visited a Tmobile store and the staff did the absolutely least amount possible to help, made me wait as long as possible, messed things up, and then at the very end mentioned I should give them full marks when called for feedback (which sadly I wasn’t).

  • Roger

    Tmo is generally okay for existing plans, especially grandfathered in ones, but look at what new folks get.

    There is no MyFaves for them. If they want UMA then they have to get Blackberry and you can only have Blackberry with a $30 data plan. Texting is an extra $10 (with nothing less for light users other than exorbitant per message pricing.)

    If I was Tmo I would make a base level of extras part of every plan. For example 100 texts, 100mb of data, 100 UMA calls, 10 discounted international calls etc. The point is to get people hooked on these things, as they are then far more likely to upgrade to the full versions from the “teasers”. And for people who don’t use that much of those (eg only 30 texts a month, or 37mb of data) well you weren’t likely to get them to upgrade anyway. It is far more important to get people using their phones and being dependent on them, rather than seeking out and using free alternatives like IM, Skype etc.

    • Johnny

      i work for t-mobile and trust me, we take care of the customer with whatever they need. if they dont text much, there are options to give them 400 FREE msg while in the activation process. we sell the 8520 for free with $10 text add-on no data.

      • Roger

        You might but I’ve never had anything added in the activation process, and I was told that getting any Blackberry other than the Flip requires a data plan. (This is after my existing flip decided that Bluetooth would no longer work – a common affliction of these lemons).

        In fact the only thing I was offered was a free crappy case after spending several hours in a store where they did the least possible to help, required me calling customer service, mess ups on their end etc.

        So my friends know never to send me SMS and I do my data in other ways (wifi is everywhere I care). And of course I steer them away from Tmo because the compelling advantages of MyFaves and UMA are no longer pertinent.

        Customer for 4 years, and this is sufficiently annoying that I am even considering moving to Sprint.

  • Erizzy

    Hey VDubb, read the persons post before you reply with your foot in your mouth!!!

  • Nick

    “Who cares if it “only” has a 600 MHz processor and not a 1Ghz Snapdragon? Android 2.1 + Sense + A good QWERTY board”

    What a silly comment. Anyone that has any interest in a high end phone cares. The G1 had a 528 MHz processor. The myTouch 3g slide isn’t going to have much more memory either. Might be fine for the ‘average’ consumer, but still doesn’t come close to cutting it for any power user.

    • matlock

      Are you freaking smoking crack! The G1 did not have a 528mhz processor, it was not even near 528, it was in the high 300mhz range! check your facts sir!!

      • eYe

        You check your facts. G1 has 528mhz processor. Same as Hero, MT3G, Cliq, Cliq XT and number of other phones. G1’s processor was clocked down to 384mhz but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a 528mhz processor (msm7201A if you want to be specific). Recent development proved that this processor is definitely stable at 576mhz and can be clocked up to 625mhz although results were mixed at those speeds.

      • Nick

        Yeah… I DID check my facts before posting this, even though I OWN a G1 and OC’d it from 528 to 576. And no, I don’t smoke crack.

    • shakarak

      Dude you should really use the mytouch slide. It’s quite an amazing device.

      • rushmore

        Sure! We can play some Flash games too.. oops, nevermind ;)

        Seriously, the MTS seems a great mid-level device, but Tmo is strrrretching it calling it their “flagship” device. Unless they plan on making the mid-level, their relative high-level??

      • Nick

        I’m not saying it’s not a good phone, I’m just saying it’s not a high-end phone. Maybe a year ago it would be, but barely still.. Adding a keyboard and a BIT of ram and processor speed doesn’t turn a mid-low end smartphone into a high-end flagship phone.

  • tomato

    I hope you’re right about the N1, Noah, seeing as I just ordered the unlocked version for TMo ;)

    I’ve been with TMO for years, long out of contract, but I recently had to deal with their customer care department and found nothing but helpful people (all located in North America, I should add) For each 1 person who might possibly drop the ball, there are hundreds right behind them ready to pick it up and try to make you happy. Personally, I think TMo is a great company.

  • Max

    It is a great company.I remember l didn’t have enough cash to pay my bill.I called them them and they gave me an extension without suspending my service….My only request is for them to have a more robust smartphone line

  • Tim

    Guys, I just recently switched from t-mobile to Verizon. And I’m very happy about the decision I made. The 3g is much more reliable and faster. I got the Droid incredible, it outperform my old nexus one just about everything. The reason I switched is one day the tmo rep tricked me to get a even more plan to saved some money from my grand father plan, and I changed and believed her. It turned out my bill was raise from 92 to 108. So I called tmo and I talked to them, they said they had no prove if this is true or not and there was no way for them to put me back to my grandfather plan. I was so mad cuz I’ve been with them for four years and that’s how you treat ur old customer. After about the third attempts I called them to tell them I’m about to cancel my contact , the rep was nice enough to finally put me back to my old plan. But it was too late for them, I already made up my mind to go to Verizon. So far, I’ve been using it for week. It is a little more expansive than t-mobile, but the 3g network is so much better. I think is worth the money :)

    • rushmore

      Same here :) Still will keep my G1 for England trips and use a prepaid Tmo plan for that current month. No international data roaming fees to worry about ;)

  • mikeeeee

    t-mo works for me.

    i’ve been with them since ’01.

    since then i’ve had……..

    att prepaid>>>> sucks.

    verizon with corporate discount>>>> sucks.

    sprint usb data dongle with corporate discount>>>>> sucks.

    when something better for me comes along, i’ll check it out.

    right now, t-mo is the best for me.

    • rushmore

      How does corporate rates suck? Knocked $20 off my bill and got me within $20 of what I paid for Tmo and family. Service coverage is outstanding and I get 3G where Tmo would literally have no signal.

      Of course Tmo has great customer service (need to, to offset their faults), but if you check the survey results lately, Verizon is gaining ground.

      Frankly, the only thing Tmo has going for them ATM is this outstanding blog. True dat.

  • binfartin

    Yes they are a great company. I’ve been with them since the voicestream era. When I need to cancel a line for a very personal reason they have wave my ETF and gave me extra 500 mins for that month. No other cellphone company will do such a thing.

  • thechemist

    I am done with Tmo. Honey moon is over(been with them 3 years). I am disgusted by their “let’s be really over the top nice so we don’t have to fix anything” customer service. Phones and data coverage is great if you’re willing to be 3 years behind the rest of the country. Too many gripes to list. Can’t wait to switch back to Sprint.

  • jmts80

    I am done complaining. We get what we pay for. That is all I have to say

  • rushmore

    I bet Tmo wishes all the love in this thread comes there way, since they continue to bleed customers out. Great customer service will not cover phone signal or 3G for you ;) You get what you pay for. Go on a cross-country trip or off the main city areas and let us see how much love you have. Especially stuck somewhere with no Tmo service.

    I spent seven years with them, but the coverage did not get better and Tmo insults people’s intelligence (I admit my own is minimal) by releasing a flagship device with three year old chipset tech and no chance of running Flash. Factor in a low res screen that Android market devs are getting tired of supporting and you have a flagship device fit for a third world country.

  • Tpavey

    I love the service I get with T-mobile. Customer support is always friendly. That said, with inferior phones in their stores AND inferior coverage range they really can’t afford to be only $20 less than ATT/Verizon.

    If all you do is talk or text T-mobile is by far the best company out there. This is an acceptable way to make money. If they want to be even remotely competetive in the smartphone/businessphone/high-end arena they need to DRASTICALLY reduce their data prices. If Verizon is $30 for data, given their coverage, T-mobile should be $20 at maximum.

    When T-mobile had Faves on all plans and family data rates they were much more competetive. When changing pricing structure to something that was similar to Att/Verizon they became much less desireable.

    Again, I love T-mobile, but I feel if they don’t do something major by the end of the summer they will be in hurting at the end of this year. Fast 3G isn’t going to cut it because the majority of consumers see Sprint with 4G and ATT has been claiming the fastest for the last two years. The average consumer doesn’t know the details.

    • rushmore

      4G is useless unless you live in one of the few cities that has it. Forget roaming and 4G- heck forget roaming with 3G and Sprint. Their coverage is not much better than Tmo’s in regards to areas with 3G coverage.

      • mmaxxsooner

        Yes that’s why my bros 100 plus company phones just kicked lame ass sprint too the curb. They did it because their coverage Sucks. Quit with the LIES!

  • Jamie

    Speaking about Tmob’s customer service, I had to warranty exchange a phone and their phone support could not have been more helpful. I called around peak hours, and I quickly got a rep who hooked me up with a replacement phone. It was totally painless and took no time at all. That, by itself, won me over.

  • xgerman

    I know they want to be the budget people but $80 for unlimited data, text, voice is far too expensive. Looks like simplemobile can do it for $60 reselling Tmob’s net…