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Summary:

No iPhone for T-Mobile, but exasperated T-Mo customers, take heart. The iPhone 5’s configuration aligns perfectly with the new network upgrades T-Mobile is rolling out today. It will take a year for the network to be fully LTE compatible, but T-Mobile isn’t waiting that long.

t-mobile-iphone-feature

T-Mobile once again missed out on the newest release of the iPhone to the disappointment of many of its customers. But T-Mo and Apple’s mutual fans do have some reason to celebrate: The configuration of the iPhone 5 matches up perfectly with T-Mobile’s planned 3G and 4G network bands – the carrier only needs to complete its network retrofit to support it.

Apple is releasing three different versions of the iPhone to handle the huge number of LTE bands globally. One of them is tuned to the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum over which T-Mobile will launch its LTE network next year. So if you want to buy an iPhone 5 and bring it over to T-Mo in the future, buy the AT&T/Canadian version.

Outside the Apple iPhone 5 event Sept. 12

T-Mobile has long been denied the iPhone – not because of some feud with Apple, but because its mobile broadband frequencies simply didn’t match up with Apple’s universal smartphone. But since this summer, T-Mobile has been playing musical chairs with its spectrum.

T-Mobile has already started moving its HSPA+ network to the PCS band, where it can play nicely with all versions of the iPhone’s 3G radios. So far it’s only a few markets, but T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has informed us that the carrier will have a “material footprint on HSPA+ at 1900 MHz by the end of the year.” That means all versions of the iPhone will work on T-Mobile’s 3G network over a portion – however big “material” is – in just a few short months.

Once that HSPA+ transition is complete, T-Mobile will begin filling in the gap left in the AWS band with LTE, a project it expects to complete in the second half of the year. At that point, all of T-Mobile’s networks will be in complete alignment with AT&T. That means all generations of iPhones will function on T-Mo’s network just as they would on AT&T’s. T-Mobile’s Ray will share more details about his LTE rollout plan at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference next week in San Francisco.

Of course, that doesn’t mean T-Mobile will become an official iPhone distributor. It still has to broker a deal directly with Apple, which would force T-Mobile to make a big financial commitment. I have little doubt though that T-Mobile will immediately jump at the chance to add the iPhone to its portfolio. The lack of the device has been hitting it hard in recent quarters. To prime the market, T-Mobile has been aggressively encouraging customers with unlocked phones to join its network.

  1. Ocelots_r_awesome Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    T-mobile should have done this years ago when they purchased the AWS spectrum.

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    1. They couldn’t do this a year ago. There were too many 2g subscribers on pcs spectrum.

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  2. How do i buy a at&t / canadian iphone 5

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    1. Well, you can buy it from AT&T though you’ll be locked into contract. Shortly after launch resellers like Amazon and GSM Nation will hopefully start selling unlocked versions. Apple will probably start selling it too.

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    2. Go to the apple store

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  3. So if I want to get the new iPhone next week, I should get the AT&T Version if I’m going to use it on TMobile?

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    1. Well, you probably want to buy an unlocked version unless you want to use AT&T for a year, cancel your contract, pay the ETF, get it unlocked and THEN bring it to T-Mobile. An unlocked version won’t be cheap though.

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  4. How come you can purchase an iPhone in Germany from T mobile but not here in the states? http://www.t-mobile.de/iphone/0,,22260-_,00.html

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    1. T-Mobile Germany uses different network frequencies.

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  5. I can’t wait any more t-mo, back to the Evil Empire for me. You’ve been great. :(

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  6. With the previous CEO out and the ABSOLUTELY IDIOTIC CMO finally BLOWED-UP, maybe, just maybe T-Mumble is finally in position to be a ‘carrier’….

    This program of playing to the already purchased and un-locked iPhones could pay off, BUT you better watch them closely.. They have an uncanny nack of F#*KING these kinds of simple things up beyond belief….

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    1. It’s funny because there are currently 1 million iPhone users on the T-Mobile network as I write this. People talk about T-Mobile ‘finally’ being in position to be an iPhone carrier when they already are. They just don’t ‘officially’ carry the iPhone, but older iPhones will work on the service. They just operate at slower data speeds. The new iPhone 5 will operate at the faster speeds. If I were TMo I wouldn’t bother with the subsidies and just sell the phone without a contract on the website.

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      1. Leroy Yazamashi Saturday, October 13, 2012

        I have an iPhone 4 unlocked on Tmobile and it uses Edge network for data. How has tmobile been able to support iphone users without 3G support? Tmobile sucks hand down. ATT&T should be happy they didn’t buy tmobiles shitty network.

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  7. T-Mobile gets screwed over by Apple, once again (who would’ve guessed?). I’m so sick of hearing about how T-Mobile and Apple can’t come to an agreement over getting the iPhone. I’m particularly disgusted with Apple for not offering T-Mobile the iPhone 5 even though we know the networks will be compatible at a future point. Maybe I need to calm down and be patient. Or maybe I need to launch my cell phone into the sun and never worry about it again. I’ll never give Apple any of my business so long as they keep leaving T-Mobile out of the picture.

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    1. Verizon, ATT, and Sprint all pay heavy subsidies to have the iPhone 5 on their networks. It means they pay for each phone, in it’s entirety ($600, $800, whatever it is), swallow that cost, and sell it to you, the consumer at a low price. Each network eats it big time every time someone buys an iPhone which is why their profit margins take a huge nosedive each time a new iPhone comes out.

      Eventually, they do make it up on the back end because after 2 years, the expensive data and voice plans they charge people make up for the cost up front. T-Mobile is balking at the up front cost of the iPhone. Apple isn’t treating T-Mobile any differently from the other carriers. Apple wants T-Mobile to swallow the cost of iPhone up front, whole, and they don’t want to do it. It is not congruous with T-Mobile’s pricing strategy which is to offer lower monthly Plans and services than the rest of the industry.

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    2. Leroy Yazamashi Saturday, October 13, 2012

      I think apple knows how crappy tmobiles network is.

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  8. Forget tmobile can’t wait to get it of my contract. I have no need for yesterday’s cellphone carrier. The people running this company are clowns.

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    1. Since when is saving money out of style? You can go to one of the other networks and you’ll either pay through the nose for data plans with Verizon and ATT, or you’ll suffer from terrible customer service from Sprint. Legacy users of T-Mobile are still using their $5/mo unlimited data plans. Let’s see you go to any of the big 3 networks and get unlimited data on your smartphone for $5/mo. Sprint does have free unlimited data for the cell phone users on some plans, but it does not apply to smartphones.

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  9. Negri Electronic have the Iphone 5 unlock for pre-order. The prices are a bit higher than what Apple usually sell them for but in the end the savings is worth it. They have the 16GB for $759.50, 32GB for $869.50 and 64GB for 979.50. I hate contracts because it looks like money they loan you with all the interest doubling what they loan you. I paid $540 for my unlock Samsung Galaxy SII and put it on Simple Mobile $40 a month that includes everything, even international texting for free. And recently I upgraded to the $50 a month of 4G speed with monthly $5 given back for international calls. I may just go for the 64GB Iphone from Apple, which may about $865 directly unlock from Apple.

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    1. What is the tmobile plan that you have is it prepaid? I would like to get same as yours could u please guide me how to get it! Thank you!!!

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  10. I’m more inclined to purchase a Verizon/Sprint version since it can be used with more carriers outside of the U.S. One question though is whether Verizon version can be used on AT&T/T-Mobile network once unlocked. I know they use different LTE bands, but how about on 3G?

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    1. Hi Ik, The CDMA phone does have AT&T’s 3G bands, but the CDMA global phone and the AT&T variant are exclusive of one another when it comes to LTE freqs. Neither will support the other’s 700 MHz spectrum. The CDMA phone also doesn’t have AWS support so that means no support for T-Mobile. As for just 3G, the Verizon phone should work over the new HSPA+ network going up on PCS, but it will never access its LTE network.

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