T-Mobile also has a new switcher offer that aims to put pressure on its rivals.
T-Mobile is refreshing its offerings. In its latest virtual "un-carrier" event on Thursday, the nation's second-largest provider unveiled a handful of new initiatives ranging from new plans to new efforts to lure customers from rivals like AT&T.
Two of the new plans, which are available starting Sunday for both new and existing users, are dubbed "Go5G" and "Go5G Plus." They will sit alongside the carrier's existing offerings of Magenta and Magenta Max on the high-end and are largely similar to those offerings. While both are slightly pricier -- each runs $5 more per line, per month compared to Magenta and Magenta Max -- they will come with additional high-speed data in Mexico and Canada (10GB on Go5G, 15GB on Go5G Plus) and add an additional 10GB of extra hotspot data (now 15GB on Go5G and 50GB on Go5G Plus).
Regular Magenta and Magenta Max perks, such as free Netflix, will remain. Like Magenta Max, the Go5G Plus plan will include free Apple TV Plus as well. Both plans, like all options T-Mobile offers, will similarly be part of its "price lock" promise to not raise rates on the plans.
Ultimately, the Go5G plans are for customers who like Magenta's premium perks but want more hotspot data at home and international data in North America.
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"What we've seen in this post-pandemic world is customers are moving around a lot more than they were previously. Mexico and Canada are the most frequent roaming destinations for our customers, and people are working from everywhere," Mike Katz, T-Mobile's president of marketing, innovation and experience told CNET.
The Go5G Plus plan will also include one more perk: The ability for users to get the same new device upgrade offers that the carrier traditionally has reserved for new customers.
Traditionally wireless carriers have offered the best deals to new subscribers in an effort to get them to switch providers, with the higher trade-in discount for a new device like the latest iPhone or Galaxy providing an incentive to make up for the hassle of switching carriers. That has shifted in recent years as some carriers, notably AT&T, have been touting in their latest promotions that their upgrade deals apply to both new and existing users so long as they sign up for an installment plan that runs for 36 months.
With this new feature as part of its Go5G Plus plan, T-Mobile says that every two years people on the plan will be able to trade in and upgrade to a new device using the same new customer offers it has for switchers. That last part is also notable as T-Mobile has largely held out on installment plan lengths. Whereas Verizon and AT&T require 36-month installment plans to get their latest device upgrade deals, T-Mobile has stuck to 24 months for most devices. (Samsung's pricey Galaxy Z Fold line is a notable exception.)
Katz says the carrier will continue to offer 24-month installments to all users even with this new plan option. "People want to upgrade at 24 months, and as the benefit of this plan and the business practice across our other plans, 24 months is the term that we do for handset financing," he tells CNET.
To go with the new plans, T-Mobile is offering a free iPhone 14 or Galaxy S23 if you switch from a rival carrier and trade-in a phone. Under Go5G Plus, this deal will be available to those users as well.
It is worth noting that T-Mobile still isn't letting people with multiple lines combine plans. Everyone on your account will need to be on Go5G Plus to get this upgrade deal: You can't just upgrade one line to Go5G Plus and leave the others on a cheaper Magenta or Essentials option.
"A big part of it for us is simplicity," Katz says when asked about why the carrier doesn't offer mixing and matching of different plans on an account. "And we think a lot of the benefits that we pack into plans are ones that the entire accounts can benefit from. And we've kept all the options for the different plans we feel like there's a [plan] that will work for everybody."
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In addition to Go5G and Go5G Plus, the carrier is also unveiling a new "limited time" version of its more affordable Essentials plan. Called "Essentials Savings," this option will also be available starting on Sunday for new and existing users and offer a discount on T-Mobile's long-running Essentials plan that drops the single-line price to $50 a month from its current rate of $60. It still offers four lines of Essentials for $100 a month, which has been a long-running promotion in recent months, and you can still get its cheapest single-line unlimited option of Base Essentials, which runs $45 a month for a single line.
Katz would not disclose how long the "limited time" Essentials Savings offer will be in the market.
While the Essentials Savings plan is a temporary replacement for the main Essentials option, the carrier is killing off its cheapest Base Essentials plan this weekend. This plan was T-Mobile's cheapest plan, particularly for single lines where it's $45 a month, $5 cheaper than the new Essentials Savings plan and $15 a month cheaper for a single line than the regular Essentials plan. (Essentials Savings is the same $80 for two lines as Base Essentials and actually $10 cheaper for three lines and $20 cheaper for four lines.)
The carrier will soon have a complex collection of many similar, but slightly different offerings. With the new Go5G and Essentials plan T-Mobile will soon have a bevy of unlimited plans in the market: Go5G, Go5G Plus, Magenta, Magenta Max and Essentials/Essentials Savings.
As for how the carrier will guide people who are looking to switch and may be overwhelmed by the options, Katz says the company has "lots of simple tools in-store and online where people can do the side-by-side comparison and pick the right plan that has the features that are best for their situation."
The new plans are just one part of T-Mobile's event, it also is taking aim at its rivals specifically AT&T.
Both Verizon and T-Mobile automatically unlock devices bought on installment plans once those installment plans are paid off. Verizon goes a step further and will automatically unlock devices after 60 days, even if you're still paying for it. Both efforts make it easier to switch providers. They also make it easier for carriers to go after one another's customers through trial efforts like T-Mobile's Network Pass or Verizon's Free Trial.
AT&T, however, notably requires you to pay off a device from its installment plan and it requires you to manually request an unlock from its website even after all installments are completed.
In a bid to go after people on AT&T, T-Mobile is dangling a new promotion it calls the "Easy Unlock." This will allow AT&T customers switching to T-Mobile to trade in phones, even if they're locked, for a new phone from T-Mobile. You'll still need to pay off the remaining balance owed to AT&T when you cancel your service, but T-Mobile says it will also still help by giving switchers up to $650 through a "prepaid Mastercard" to help offset that cost.
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And if users who switch over aren't happy with T-Mobile in their first 30 days, the carrier says it will now help them switch to a different provider as well as give $50 per voice line to help them move out.
"The 'Easy Unlock" is really in response to noise that we're continuing to hear from AT&T customers who are locked into three-year contracts and unlocked devices that AT&T refuses to unlock even after you've paid off the phone unless you call them and beg them for it," Katz says, equating the program to a "get out of jail free card."
While it is taking shots at AT&T, Katz says this offer will apply to other providers including cable companies. This deal will similarly be available for a "limited time," though no end date was specified.