T-Mobile CEO John Legere at the Uncarrier 5.0 event in Seattle. (Associated Press)
At T-Mobile’s Uncarrier 5.0 event Wednesday night, CEO John Legere trotted out a new concept in the mobile industry: the test phone. Starting Monday, T-Mobile will send any potential customer an iPhone 5s and let her have free reign over its network for seven days.
While many operators offer a trial period for your mobile service or device, it’s often more trouble than its worth, requiring you to reprovision to a new phone or carrier and often pay a restocking fee. With T-Mobile’s Test Drive program, you don’t switch carriers, sign a contract, or buy a device. T-Mobile sends what amounts to a loaner phone for you to try out while you’re still with your current carrier. After seven days, you drop the loaner handset off at a T-Mobile store, and you’re then free to remain with your current carrier or sign up for new service with T-Mobile.
T-Mobile says it’s a no-strings-attached trial. In an interview, T-Mo’s chief strategy officer Mike Sievert put it a different way: it’s the opportunity to take a “seven-night stand” with T-Mobile, to gauge if your relationship with AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint is really worth preserving. If for some reason you like one of them better, it’ll never have to know about your secret rendezvous with T-Mobile.
Apple is working closely with T-Mobile providing thousands of free iPhones for the trials, T-Mobile said.
It’s an interesting concept and one geared toward focusing consumers on a lot of the big upgrades T-Mobile has been making to its networks. On Wednesday, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray revealed the carrier has piled a lot more spectrum onto its LTE network, increasing capacity and data speeds by 50 percent in 16 cities: Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Mobile, Alabama; Orlando; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Tampa; and parts of Upstate New York.
T-Mobile also announced that streaming music from Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora, or any other Internet music app will no longer count against your data limit, provided that you’re paying more than $50 per month on one of its Simple Choice plans. You can read more about that announcement here.
T-Mobile has also expanded its voice over LTE coverage from its initial two cities to cover 15 total, including New York City and San Francisco.
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