T-Mobile unveils new contract-free plans

Carrier begins offering unlimited everything for $79 a month without an annual contract.

Matt Hickey
With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.
Matt Hickey
3 min read
Matt Hickey

T-Mobile on Sunday took the veil off of its rumored new aggressive pricing plans and made them official. And they're not just attractive, they're simple as well.

They are split into two major categories: the Even More Plus plans that don't include hardware subsidization but has no contract, and the Even More plans that include hardware and have a two-year contract.

The noncontract Plus option looks great for people who already own hardware that would run on T-Mobile's network, like an unlocked GSM phone. The top plan, at $79 a month, includes unlimited airtime, texting, and even Web browsing. That's about $20 less than the full unlimited plan that is offered by Sprint, until now the best all-in plan around.

Don't need data and just want talking and texting? That'd be just $49 a month for all-you-can-eat on both. Like we said, aggressive.

But just because they're not subsidizing hardware with these Even More Plus plans, it doesn't mean someone would be stuck with their current phone. T-Mobile's offering these plans in conjunction with its Equipment Installment Plan, which allows a user to break up payment on a new phone into 4 or 20 installments on top of what they're paying for their bill, and it's interest free. A $399 G1 would be just $19.95 a month for 20 months. If you're anti-contract, that's a great way to go.

Of course, one could still go the traditional route and get a phone with the Even More plans and get a handset subsidized, but the Even More plans don't offer an unlimited everything plan. Adding a data and text plan to the same G1 available on the installment plan takes the unlimited side up to $99 a month, on par with Sprint. In addition the G1 costs $129, leaving $270 to be made up for by subsidization. On a two-year contract that's $11.50 per month.

But what's the best way to go? This can get confusing, but bear with us here.

Doing the math we see we could have a G1 with an unlimited Even More Plus plan without a contract for $79.99 and a handset installment plan of $19.95 a month. That gives us about $99 a month for a handset and unlimited everything (voice, data, text) plan without a contract.

Or we could go for the unlimited Even More plan for $59, add unlimited texting and data for $40 a month, and then pay $129 up front for the handset, and be stuck in a contract. The monthly cost is about the same at $99, but the $129 up front kind of rubs us the wrong way.

So that brings about the question: who'd sign a 2-year contract if they have to pay $129 for the handset and be stuck in a 2-year contract?

We're not sure we would, and that's exactly why the Even More Plus has us excited. If you're on T-Mobile or looking to switch carriers in the near future, then you should take a look at these aggressive new plans. We're hoping they'll force the other carriers to create similar plans of their own as well. It's looking like $99 a month for unlimited everything, including a cutting edge handset, is where the market wants to be.