T-Mobile's iPhone 12 deals include free phones for switchers and discounts for upgrades

It took an extra day, but T-Mobile's iPhone 12 deals have arrived.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
4 min read
iPhone 12 color colors lineup

iPhone 12 colors lineup.


While Verizon and AT&T had deals ready to go when Apple announced its latest iPhone 12 line, T-Mobile took the day. On Wednesday the carrier finally unveiled its offers, and while they are not as aggressive as AT&T's, the carrier does have a few discounts available for those switching or upgrading. 

For switchers, the carrier is offering a bundle of two iPhone 12 Pros and two lines of service with its Essentials unlimited plan for $100 per month when trading in two "eligible devices." The Essentials plan is the company's cheapest unlimited plan that would normally run $120 per month for two lines without any iPhone included. Although it lacks perks like free Netflix or international data roaming outside of Canada and Mexico, it does have unlimited talk, text and data and hotspot access (though the latter is capped at "3G speeds"). 

Taxes and fees are also not included with this plan, and you will need to stay on T-Mobile for 30 months to fully pay off the iPhones. If you leave before then, the remaining balance on the phones is due. 

Read: Our first impressions of the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max 

Those adding a line or switching but who don't want the Essentials deal can get "up to $850 off any new iPhone 12 series" so long as you are adding a line and trading in an "eligible device" in "good condition." 

According to T-Mobile's site, the $850 will be applicable if you're trading in an iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max. Those trading in an iPhone 11, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus will get $680 off while older iPhones like the iPhone 7 , iPhone 7 Plus and second-generation iPhone SE will get $530 off. 

The carrier is even giving up to $230 off when trading in an iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 , iPhone 5c, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS , iPhone 3G or first-generation iPhone.

As with the other carriers, the discounts will be given as bill credits over 30 months to keep you on T-Mobile's network. If you'd like to pay down the device before then you can, the monthly bill credits will keep coming so long you stay with T-Mobile. If you switch before the 30 months are up, however, you risk losing the credits. 

It is also worth noting that the carrier is limiting the maximum device trade-ins per account to four, and there may be other charges like a $10 SIM card fee or $20 "assisted or upgrade support charge." You also will be on the hook for any taxes. 

Discounts for upgrades and long-time users

Angela Lang/CNET

Those who already have T-Mobile or Sprint will be able to get up to $500 off a new iPhone 12 series phone through bill credits when trading in an "eligible device" in good condition.

The breakdown for devices is a bit different than the offer for new customers. The $500 will be offered to those trading in an 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max (but not the 512GB 11 Pro and 256GB/512GB 11 Pro Max), while $415 off is available to those trading in an iPhone 11, XR, X, 8, or 8 Plus. 

Those with an iPhone 7, 7 Plus or a second-generation iPhone SE can get $300 off, and the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 6, 6 Plus and original SE will get you $215 off. Any older model dating back to the original iPhone will get $50 off. 

The carrier is also giving those who have been with T-Mobile or Sprint for five years or more an extra $200 off "any new iPhone" when you "trade or turn in any active iPhone on an eligible plan."

While it was not immediately clear what plans would qualify as being "eligible," T-Mobile is allowing this offer to be combined with the "up to $500 off" promotion, which could make for a potential savings of $700. As with the switcher deal, the discounts will be doled out as monthly credits. 

Unlike some of its rivals, all T-Mobile and Sprint plans will be able to use 5G

The new iPhones, which support 5G, presents a unique opportunity for T-Mobile. After lagging behind Verizon and AT&T during the early years of 4G LTE , thanks to its Sprint merger earlier this year the "un-carrier" finds itself with a more robust 5G network than its rivals and one that offers all three flavors of 5G. 

In a blog post on Tuesday CEO Mike Sievert touted that his company's low-band nationwide 5G network now covers 260 million people and that its midband 5G network -- which offers a noticeable speed improvement compared to low-band while still working indoors -- is now available to 25 million people. 

T-Mobile plans to expand the midband offering to cover 100 million people before the end of the year, but it has yet to provide an update for expanding its higher-frequency and faster millimeter-wave service beyond the six cities it launched last year

The new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro will be available for preorder on Friday before going on sale Oct. 23. The 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max will go on preorder Nov. 6 before sales commence on Nov. 13.