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Summary:

Solavei will sell the device for steep price of $700, but unlocked versions of the new iPhone 5 will work with its SIM cards. Solavei resells T-Mo’s service, giving access to its nationwide HSPA+ network, but not LTE.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere kicking off the iPhone and T-Mobile's Un-carrier strategy last year
photo: T-Mobile

Apple’s newly retooled iPhone 5 makes it easier not just for T-Mobile to deliver 3G service to the Apple aficionados among its customers, but also for its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partners.

T-Mobile MVNO Solavei said on Wednesday it will fully support all of the HSPA+ radios in the new version of the iPhone 5. That means anywhere T-Mobile offers 3G service, Solavei will too. Previously all iPhones’ 3G capabilities were restricted to areas where T-Mobile had completed its ongoing network overhaul, which to date is about 50 cities. Solavei — which has adopted a multi-level marketing approach (think Amway) to distributing its service — is selling the unlocked iPhone 5 directly to customers for the steep price of $700 through its retail partner GSMNation. But unlocked versions of the device will work just fine with Solavei’s SIM cards.

Solavei, however, won’t get access to T-Mo’s latest and greatest 4G network though. The MVNO confirmed that none of its customers will be able to tap T-Mobile’s LTE network, no matter what phone they own. T-Mobile has only launched LTE in seven cities, and it appears to be keeping its new 4G service for itself for the time being. I would expect that change eventually though. Sprint, for instance, is already opening its new LTE network to its numerous MVNO partners.

T-Mobile’s 3G network, though, is nothing to scoff at. T-Mo the only U.S. carrier to offer dual-carrier HSPA+, which is now accessible by the iPhone 5 and many other devices supporting its Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) band. T-Mobile also has several other MVNO partners, such as Tracfone’s Straight Talk Wireless, that can theoretically support the iPhone 5. Solavei is the only one we know of that is selling a nano-SIM card that fits into to device, but many consumers are getting around that problem by cutting larger SIM cards down to size.

  1. what about t-mobile own prepaid(monthly 4G)? can they use LTE?

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    1. Yes if your a T-Mobile, customer and you have a 4GLTE phone, and your in an area that has 4G,LTE then you will get 4G LTE speeds.

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    2. Yes. Branded plans can access LTE as long as the device is LTE capable.

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    3. Matteo Rodrigo Friday, April 19, 2013

      Do they even offer this anymore? The Some plan offers 500mb for $50;I think prepaid used to offer 100mb..$70 was 5gb now unlimited … Maybe you’re talking about the $30 Walmart plan

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  2. Matteo Rodrigo Friday, April 19, 2013

    Can’t you buy an unlocked iPhone for less? Seems that T-Mobile is going to keep it’s LTE fit itself.. No Solavei or StraightTalk

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  3. iPhone 5 at T-Mobile is not ONLY costing you $99 please be aware of the $20/MO installment fee. By the time your phone is paid off, you will end up paying the full price of the phone ($580). In addition to the phone price the basic plan comes with ONLY 500mb data which means for an average smart phone user it is a couple of days worth of data. Sprint is also offering iPhone 5 for $99 with unlimited data and unlimited mobile to mobile voice. By far, Verizon and AT&T have the most coverage and Sprint is also catching up but T-Mobile has a lot less coverage than any of the 3 operators. So for iPhone lovers, here is my opinion. For less money and unlimited data the best choice is !! Sprint !!. Please DO NOT fool by T-Mobile $99 iPhone ad. Also I am not sure if T-Mobile even have LTE anywhere yet.

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    1. I don’t think you have a good understanding anything about T-mobile’s plan to even shed light on it. T-mobile $50 unlimited Voice, text and data with 500mb cap of high speed internet is unlimited Data, just not a true unlimited. After you use your 500mb of high speed data you still have unlimited data, just at a lower speed, which can be anything from 4G to 2G Edge. Sprint unlimited $99 is no good when comparing the initial price you pay for the phone and the speed of 2-4mb speeds you get on their LTE. I have tested and compared Sprint LTE speed and T-mobile Edge speed in the Dc metro and can say they are the same speed with sprint been a little faster 6 out of 10 compared to t-mobile 5 out of 10. Now let’s compare T-mobile and Sprint with iPhone 5 16GB.

      T-mobile – $99 + ($20×24)=$580+ (24×50)= $1780 for 2 Years. That come with a monthly bill of $70. Note you have no contract and can cancel and pay the remaining of your iPhone since it was financed at 0%

      Sprint – $200 + ( $100 x 24) = $2600 for a 2 year contract with a penalty of $350 for early termination. Your monthly will be $100+tax.

      Conclusion. If you decided to stay with either T-mobile or sprint for the whole 24months you will end up only paying minus $20 x24 = Minus $480 which brings your bill to only $50+tax and with Sprint you still pay the same $100+tax

      Please make informed decision before choosing a carrier

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  4. So the OP said Sprint is now offering the iPhone 5 for $99. It’s higher than T-Mobile… and still on sprint’s laughable 2-4mb LTE speeds.

    Sprint – $100 + ( $100 x 24) = $2500 for a 2 year contract with a penalty of $350 for early termination. Your monthly will be $100+tax.

    With Still a 100 bucks off the phone you are still paying more overall and still locked into a contract which even after expiration date you still pay the same $99+tax until you renew with the same process all over again.

    Please make informed decision before choosing a carrier

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