T-Mobile finally gets the iPhone

The company announced the news at its "Uncarrier" event in New York today. It will begin selling the iPhone 5 on Friday, April 12, for a $99.99 down payment.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
iPhone 5 for T-Mobile announced
Watch this: iPhone 5 lands on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network

T-Mobile USA will offer the iPhone on its network at long last.

The company announced the news at its "Uncarrier" event in New York today. T-Mobile will begin selling the iPhone 5 on April 12 for a $99.99 down payment, and also will offer the iPhone 5 without a contract. Customers who want to finance the phone will pay $20 a month for 24 months.

CEO John Legere emphasized that with T-Mobile's new rate plans and the cost of the device, consumers will save more than $1,000 on the iPhone 5 compared to owning the same device over two years on AT&T's network. T-Mobile will offer previous iPhone models on its network, such as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 will also operate over T-Mobile's 4G LTE network.

CNET reported Monday that an iPhone announcement was expected. T-Mobile is the last of the major carriers to get the iPhone on its network. The company is hoping that adding the iPhone will improve customer retention.

For years, T-Mobile steadily has been losing customers as its much bigger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been gaining new customers.

While T-Mobile has never offered the iPhone officially in the past, millions of T-Mobile customers use unlocked iPhones on the company's network. The devices, however, do not perform as well as those using AT&T's network. The main reason: AT&T and T-Mobile use different radio frequencies for their 3G and HSPA+ networks.

To that end, T-Mobile is in the midst of a major network upgrade, aligning its frequencies for 3G and HSPA+ service with those of AT&T. What this means for T-Mobile users is that 3G and HSPA+ devices made for AT&T should be able to get top speeds in markets where the network migration is complete.

T-Mobile gets the iPhone
The iPhone is now in T-Mobile's hands, and plans. Lori Grunin/CNET

T-Mobile also announced the launch of its new 4G LTE network at today's event. While AT&T uses a different frequency than T-Mobile for the bulk of its LTE network, AT&T uses some AWS spectrum for LTE. As a result, devices, such as the iPhone 5, that support LTE for AT&T's network also include radios that are compatible with AWS spectrum, which is the type of wireless spectrum that T-Mobile is using for its LTE network. This means that LTE devices -- like the iPhone 5, the BlackBerry Z10, and the recently LTE-upgraded Galaxy Note 2 -- should work at top speed on T-Mobile's LTE network.

To follow all the news at T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" event, check out CNET's live blog.