Switching my iPhone from AT&T to T-Mobile


AT&T was great and everything, but it was just costing too much. As you can read here, I’ve used AT&T’s services for almost two years.

T-Mobile is $10-$15 cheaper than I was paying on AT&T. AT&T offered me a similar (after tax) price to T-Mobile’s, but that only included 300 minutes, 200 texts, and 2GB of data. Comparatively, T-Mobile is giving me 500 minutes (not that I’ll use anywhere near that much) and unlimited SMS/MMS & data. All that for about US$70/month (much better than the US$85 I was paying AT&T).

NB: I specifically asked T-Mobile if there data is unlimited (not ‘fake unlimited’; capped) and they told me I can “go nuts”. Sweeet!

The Switch

It was painless, but it did take up quite a bit of my time. Here are the steps I took to switch:

  1. I looked on T-Mobile’s website for the plan that best suited me. For me, this happened to be the Even More Plus 500 Talk + Text + Web contract-free plan.
  2. I called T-Mobile, setup an account, told them I had an iPhone, and had them send me a SIM card. (There was no obligation to make a payment until I activated the SIM card.)
  3. I called AT&T told them I wanted to cancel. They immediately put me through to their cancellation department where they asked some expected questions and then offered me a lower-cost plan (which I haven’t seen available online or elsewhere) that included (as I said above) 300 minutes of talk, 200 SMS, and 2GB of data. I said “No thanks.” and proceeded with the cancellation. AT&T asked if I was going to port my number (something I hadn’t thought of) and if so the porting would cancel the account anyway.
  4. When I received my SIM I called T-Mobile to activate it and port the number. Within minutes they had done so and my AT&T account was canceled.
  5. It took almost a week to get data working. Each T-Mobile support representative I spoke to was helpful, but the first few didn’t realise that I wasn’t on the correct data plan. I had to be on a smartphone data plan. Once that was activated my data worked. (T-Mobile forum posts like this were helpful, but didn’t resolve my issue.)
  6. Visual Voicemail is a feature on T-Mobile, but for some reason it doesn’t appear to work on the iPhone. I spoke to a nice T-Mobile girl about it. She told me everything was active on T-Mobile’s end, so it must be some kind of iPhone incompatibility. Perhaps it’s because of [Step 7].
  7. I was originally told that there was great 3G coverage in my area, but according to T-Mobile’s website my area has the slowest data rating. Outside of my apartment I get good EDGE speeds; I’m not complaining here; I usually had 3G turned off when I was on AT&T anyway. You must note that T-Mobile’s 3G isn’t compatible with the 3G radio inside the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4. So, even if I had awesome 3G in a certain location my iPhone wouldn’t be able to see it. That doesn’t bother me though.

That’s about it. It was a longer process than I expected, but my bill is less and my iPhone is working fine on T-Mobile’s network. I haven’t used it outside of the Huntsville, Fort Worth, and Houston areas yet, but I’m sure it would be fine in places like New York City and San Francisco.

Oh, just in case you didn’t read my post on using my Australian iPhone 3GS on AT&T, then you need to know that I did not hack-unlock and/or jailbreak my iPhone to work on T-Mobile. My iPhone is carrier unlocked from my Australian carrier.

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