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T-Mobile goes even lower: bring in old iPhone, waive $99 fee for iPhone 5

If you think zero dollars sounds better than $99, T-Mobile has an iPhone deal for you. Starting on Friday, if you trade in an iPhone 4(s AAPL) or iPhone 4S, the carrier will waive the down payment for a new iPhone 5.

Friday is also launch day for the T-Mobile iPhone. It is the last of the major U.S. wireless providers to get the iPhone, and as a result is looking for ways to boost its appeal to potential customers beyond its unusual new payment plan structure.

T-Mobile’s new no-contract payment plans, introduced last month, mean customers can walk out of a store with a new iPhone 5 for $99, with $20 monthly payments for the next  two years. It actually works out to be cheaper than buying an unlocked, full-price iPhone directly from Apple by about $70. The plans are also slightly less pricey than what T-Mobile competitors are offering.

While the pricing does work out to be slightly cheaper, the fact that T-Mobile is getting the iPhone so late in the game — AT&T(s t) has had it for almost six years; Verizon(s vz)(s vod) for two, and Sprint(s s) for about 18 months — means many customers have already settled in with a provider. T-Mobile’s novel pricing plans are intended to appeal to people who may not otherwise have considered an iPhone or a smartphone; but this trade-in deal also could interest people who are at the end of a contract on an older iPhone and could be tempted to find a carrier offering the best deal.

The trade-in offer is available to “well-qualified customers” (those who can secure financing for the payment plan) through June 16.

This post was corrected at 9:39 a.m. PT to reflect that “well-qualified”customers don’t have to pass a credit check, just secure device financing.

7 Responses to “T-Mobile goes even lower: bring in old iPhone, waive $99 fee for iPhone 5”

  1. T-mobile’s “well-qualified”customers strategy is way more difficult than buying a house with perfect credit. I wanted to move 2 lines from Verizon few months back and I had perfect 800 scores, and they say that I have to pay $1000 deposit, and I was not even getting subsidized phone, I had unlocked devices already. If they are still the old company, with some fancy new rate plans, then this whole iPhone thing and multi-million dollar ad campaign will go down the drain.

  2. Roberto Martins - Bob

    I was really hopeful for T-Mobile, but now I see they are still lame. I applied for my wife, she has a credit score over 720, nothing negative on her report. She just got approved a couple months ago for a Visa with a $15k credit limit; got denied today by T-Mobile for a mere $70 a month for a plan + the iPhone payments.. No explanation given… Only told that she could qualify for their 10-yr old antique phones on their pre-paid plan…

    Way to go T-Mobile, Verizon is going to get another client and you will go down!!!

  3. Straight Talk, at ~$49/month for unlimited voice, text, and data, remains a much better value:

    I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I did switch to their service (following 6-7 years with TMO) pretty much immediately after reading Kevin’s story last May:

    Considering the number of lower-priced, contract-free options that are (and have been) available in the US, the amount of hoopla the TMO story has been generating isn’t really warranted, in my opinion. It’s just not that big of a deal.

  4. hortron

    That’s not bad.

    The least valuable trade in IMHO is a CDMA iPhone 4 8GB. They seem to start at $150-225 on ebay. So if you’re a penny pincher like me, there are better ways to extract value from your existing iPhone if you’re moving to T-mobile, but $100 in credit vs 2-4 hours spent on clearing your ESN for an extra $100-$150 might be worth it. Although, the myriad ways an ebay phone sale transaction could go wrong is a deterrent.

    This is a great deal if you’ll have trouble clearing your ESN/IMEI.