New T-Mobile Monthly Plans Cheaper If You Pay Full Price For The Phone

T-Mobile launches "America's largest 4G network" campaign

T-Mobile is determined to maintain its reputation as the cost-conscious wireless company, even if that reputation might be doomed once it gets whisked up into AT&T (NYSE: T). With new monthly plans unveiled Wednesday, it’s trying an interesting gambit in hopes of steering customers away from subsidized phones.

I’m not sure whose idea it was at T-Mobile to put out a press release promoting its new “affordable” plans without including the prices of those plans, but in piecing together reports from those the company contacted under embargo, such as AllThingsD and CNET, the plans are cheaper across the board and dive below Sprint’s plans in certain cases. (T-Mobile representatives did not respond to an e-mail and phone message seeking more details.)

The new “Value” plans come in 3 varieties with T-Mobile’s trademark approach to “unlimited” data. Users can choose an unlimited voice and data plan but T-Mobile will reduce data speeds once you’ve used up more than 2GBs, 5GBs, or 10GBs, depending on the plan you choose. But there’s an interesting catch: the new plans only apply to those who purchase a phone from T-Mobile at full price or bring their own phone to T-Mobile’s network. And you’ll still have to sign a two-year contract.

Usually the whole point of paying full price for a modern smartphone–which is often subsidized to the tune of about $300–is to avoid the two-year contract, which the wireless carrier requires in order to recoup its investment in subsidies that make the purchase price more attractive. (Apple charges $649 for an unlocked no-contract 16GB iPhone 4.) This is much more common in Europe than in the U.S., but there are a few people stateside who realize they can save more money over the long haul by purchasing a phone outright and shopping around for network services.

T-Mobile will also let you put the new smartphone on an installment plan with interest-free monthly payments, which to me sounds like it would work out about the same as paying for the more expensive plans and getting a subsidized phone, but it’s not clear without the actual numbers. Hopefully T-Mobile will have all of its pricing information ready to go once next week rolls around, when the plans will become available to its customers. It will keep its current monthly plans around as “Classic” plans.

Updated 7/21: T-Mobile finally passed along the pricing details of its new plans:

T-Mobile Value Plans for Individuals
Unlimited Plus – with 2 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $49.99 – 500 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $59.99 – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

Unlimited Premium – with 5 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $64.99 – 500 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $74.99 – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

Unlimited Ultra – with 10 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $94.99 – 500 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $104.99 – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

T-Mobile Value Plans for Families
Unlimited Plus – with 2 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $39.99 per line for two lines – 1000 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $49.99 per line for two lines – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

Unlimited Premium – with 5 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $54.99 per line for two lines – 1000 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $64.99 per line for two lines – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

Unlimited Ultra – with 10 GB of high-speed data
‐¢ $84.99 per line for two lines – 1000 Whenever Minutes, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data
‐¢ $94.99 per line for two lines – Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and Unlimited Data

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