T-Mobile Will Give You a Free iPhone to Try Out for a Week

Yahoo TechJune 19, 2014

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.

 Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:

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