T-Mobile brings free iPhone 'test drive' trial to all; streaming music exempt from data

T-Mobile continues to set the bar for US wireless carriers with two new initiatives launching soon.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
T-Mobile Uncarrier 5 and 6 bring a 7-day free trial and streaming music free from data
Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

SEATTLE — T-Mobile on Wednesday lifted the lid on not one "Uncarrier" event, but two.

T-Mobile will soon offer anyone a free seven-day test drive of its data network with an Apple iPhone 5s. To sweeten the deal, new customers will also be able to stream the most popular music services with no impact on their data plans.

Uncarrier 5: Seven-day free test drive


Many who speak to me about T-Mobile's data network say it underperforms compared to its behemothic rivals. But the fourth-largest cellular giant has been working on improving their network quite aggressively. With this new free trial, there is no reason for people to not give T-Mobile a try.

Starting on June 23, the company is allowing anyone to sign up for the "test drive" program, in which it will ship out an iPhone 5s for the duration. The cell network is working in co-operation with Apple, according to chief executive John Legere, who spoke at the Seattle event.

The iPhone 5s won't give new users the full T-Mobile experience due to the current lack of support for Wi-Fi Calling, which is slated to land in iOS 8 — due out later this year. 

Uncarrier 6: Streaming music, free from data charges

Legere said later on during the hour-long event that the carrier will no longer charge streaming music services against your data. Streaming music without it affecting your data usage is the kind of carrier innovation I love to see, knowing that it's going to directly and positively affect my own and my family's data plan.

It was great to see T-Mobile show some appreciation for existing customers and those of us paying for unlimited 4G also. Those customers will be getting Rhapsody Unradio for free, while other T-Mobile subscribers can get it for a discounted $4 per month. Legere said the regular price is $5 per month).

The new Unradio feature gives you:

  • Ad-free listening: While traditional Internet radio interrupts you with ads, with Unradio your music streams ad-free;
  • Unlimited skips: While traditional Internet radio limits you to six skips per hour, Unradio lets you skip as much as you like;
  • Choose the music you want: While traditional Internet radio chooses your music for you, Unradio lets you choose your music. When you hear a song you love on Unradio, you can mark it as a favorite and automatically save it for later listening. You can stream these songs on-demand or download them to enjoy anywhere—even without a connection.
  • Create your own stations (or listen to ours): Listen to hundreds of professionally-programmed stations, or create your own stations based on the songs or artists you love.
  • Live streaming radio from your hometown or around the world: Unradio offers live streaming radio from thousands of terrestrial stations in the U.S., including KCRW in Los Angeles, KEXP in Seattle, and Chicago’s WXRT, among others, and from thousands of stations around the world.
  • ID songs anywhere with TrackMatch: Rhapsody Unradio includes a new feature, TrackMatch, you can use to identify songs you hear while out at a bar, ballgame, party or even on TV, and create stations around these songs or save them as favorites for later listening.

T-Mobile continues to lead the pack when it comes to carrier innovation, making Verizon and AT&T appear to be playing catch-up when they take away contracts and offer early upgrade plans.

With the free trial partnership with Apple, it looks like the iPhone and iPad maker is beginning to believe in T-Mobile's goal to draw in the crowds through its retail store doors. As Apple prepares to to launch iOS 8 with T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling support, we may just see the cellular becoming the preferred iPhone carrier as they both work to satisfy the burgeoning requirements of the average American customer.

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