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T-Mobile wants to kill 3-year device payment plans

In its latest Un-carrier announcement, T-Mobile calls out AT&T for its device locking policy and announces 'Phone Freedom' features.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
T-Mobile Phone Freedom graphic

T-Mobile just announced a series of changes coming to the wireless carrier as part of its latest Un-carrier initiative called Phone Freedom that'll be available starting on Sunday, April 23. (Side note: Can you believe it's been 10 years since the first Un-carrier event? Crazy.)

This time around, T-Mobile is tackling the trend of wireless carriers offering device payment plans that last up to three years, effectively locking you into a contract for that amount of time. 

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If you want to upgrade your phone or change carriers before your device is paid off, you'll have to pay the balance first. I remember when early termination fees were common, and you'd have to pay a couple hundred dollars to break your contract. Now, you have to pay several hundred dollars to cover the cost of the phone to end your payment plan. 

T-Mobile's solution? 2-year payment plans. Although, the carrier isn't positioning it as such. Instead, it's being framed as the ability to upgrade your phone every two years when you sign up for the Go 5G Plus plan. 

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When you're subscribed to the Go 5G Plus plan, T-Mobile guarantees new and existing customers will have access to the same device promotions every two years with its New In Two feature. 

T-Mobile Go 5G Plus plan

According to T-Mobile, the Go 5G Plus plan is a "supercharged" version of T-Mobile's Magenta Max plan. The new plan includes 50GB of high-speed hotspot data, 15GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada, and subscriptions to Netflix and Apple TV Plus, along with unlimited talk, text, and data. 

Pricing for the new plan starts at $90 a month for a single line, $150 for two and three lines, and $185 for four lines. The third line being free is a limited-time promotion to celebrate the launch of the new plan, according to the press release. 

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In addition to the new plan and upgrades every two years, T-Mobile is directly taking on AT&T and its device unlocking policy. AT&T keeps your phone locked to its network while it's part of a device payment plan. And then, AT&T doesn't automatically unlock your device after it's paid for. Instead, AT&T requires you to submit an unlock request to make your phone compatible with more wireless carriers. 

T-Mobile's solution is its Easy Unlock program. New customers who have a locked AT&T device can now trade in the locked phone for up to $650 in credits, and T-Mobile will give you a new smartphone when you switch to T-Mobile. 

Rounding out T-Mobile's latest announcement is a new Go Back Guarantee that gives new customers what amounts to a 30-day trial. If you switch to T-Mobile and decide the service isn't going to work for you, the carrier will give you $50 per voice line to help cover the cost of your bill. 

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Finally, T-Mobile also announced a reduction in the price of its Essentials Savings plan. A single line is now $50, or $100 for four lines of service. With the Essentials Savings plan, you get the basics -- unlimited talk, text, and data, but not the extra perks of the new Go 5G Plus plan, such as taxes and fees being included in the cost.

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