Before it drops subsidies, T-Mobile offers big smartphone rebate

T-Mobile store

Just weeks after T-Mobile announced it would eliminate smartphone subsidies in 2013, the company has a holiday deal to alleviate some of the up-front cost on popular smartphones. From Dec. 21 to 31, the operator is offering a rebate of up to $200 on the initial down payment for some devices. Customers that buy an eligible phone still qualify for the lower-priced Value Plan while paying off the rest of the hardware cost over the next 20 months. The deals will appear here later this week.

A T-Mobile representative shared this example “Zero Down Sale” chart over email, for customers that choose an Unlimted Value plan with the carrier:

Device

(Unlimited Value)

Total Out-of-Pocket Down Payment (Value)

Mail-In Rebate

(Value)

Net Down Payment

(After Rebate)

Value EIP Monthly Payment

Samsung Galaxy S III (16GB)

$199.99

$200.00

$0.00

$20.00

Windows Phone 8X by HTC

$149.99

$150.00

$0.00

$20.00

Google Nexus 4

$149.99

$150.00

$0.00

$20.00

Samsung Galaxy S® Relay™ 4G

$99.99

$100.00

$0.00

$20.00

HTC® One S™

$99.99

$100.00

$0.00

$20.00

BlackBerry® Bold™9900

$199.99

$200.00

$0.00

$20.00

Samsung Galaxy Note II

$299.99

$200.00

$99.99

$20.00

Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

$199.99

$100.00

$99.99

$15.00

 

In some cases, this is a solid deal. The Windows Phone 8X, for example costs $599.99 if purchased outright. With the Zero Down Sale rebate, it comes to $400 and includes the lower-priced plan vs a subsidized or regular plan. That Samsung Galaxy S III is $549 paid in full for a Value Plan. But the $200 rebate saves $150 over 24 months. I’m not sure I’d buy a Nexus 4 this way, however: You’d pay more buying it with T-Mobile than through Google directly, if you can catch a day where it has stock to sell, that is.

Since U.S. cellular customers are used to subsidies, this sale offers a nice transition to the full price smartphone costs that T-Mobile will be pushing next year. In fact, customers will likely notice little difference in their bills: The Value Plans typically save $20 a month over T-Mobile’s Classic plans, which ends up being the same as the monthly hardware installment.

Even if most don’t realize this, it’s going to be challenging for the operator to show the value of a non-subsidized model, because customers are used to it. But it could open the door for more competition between handset makers who now have a major U.S. carrier that actively supports a “bring your own phone” plan that’s cheaper than traditional mobile phone plans on subsidized hardware.

loading

Comments have been disabled for this post