T-Mobile buyer’s guide: plans, perks, and more

T-Mobile logo

T-Mobile ended 2019 as the third-largest carrier in the US, with a subscriber base of 86 million. It merged with Sprint in early 2020, further boosting its nationwide profile. Whether you’re looking to change carriers or are now folded in from Sprint, you probably have plenty of questions. We’re here to set your mind at ease and get you up to speed with our in-depth buyer’s guide.

See also: The best T-Mobile deals

On this page, you’ll find details on all of T-Mobile’s plans — both pre- and post-paid, and information about phones compatible with the network. If you’re thinking of switching carriers, we’ve also compared T-Mobile to its main competitors, in addition to MVNOs that rely on the network. Ready to learn more about the Un-Carrier? Let’s dig in.

T-Mobile at a glance

T-Mobile 5G Map

Credit: T-Mobile

T-Mobile USA first launched in July 1998, but arguably didn’t truly become a real force to reckon with until 2013 with the debut of its Uncarrier movement. During this time T-Mobile introduced many changes to the mobile industry, ending long-term contracts and subsidized phones in favor of upgradeable installment plans. T-Mobile also became known for its not-so-typical CEO, John Legere — a man best known for jabbing at the competition and for his regular use of profanity.

Its changes run much deeper than colorful marketing. The carrier is very committed to investing in IoT, 5G, AI, and expanding its network across every corner of the United States. Most recently, T-Mobile completed its merger with Sprint. This newly combined network helps close the gap between T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. The new T-mobile also opens up a new chapter for the company’s leadership, as John Legere is no longer the CEO. 

T-Mobile has a reputation for doing things differently. And it’s paid off!

T-Mobile’s coverage extends into all 50 states, and the carrier boasts the largest 5G network. It is currently reforming Sprint’s 5G network with a goal to serve 99% of all Americans within the next six years. In the meantime, its powerful 4G LTE network already reaches 99% of the United States (including Puerto Rico.) Check out T-Mobile’s product map for more details. 

If you are looking for a carrier with a history for going against the grain, T-Mobile is a great choice. It doesn’t hurt that the carrier has some of the most aggressive pricing in the industry. However, no carrier is perfect. According to the Better Business Bureau, T-Mobile has an A-rating but averages just over one star out of five in 297 customer reviews. The company has closed 16,966 customer complaints in the last three years with 4,354 of those coming in the past 12 months.

Post-paid T-Mobile plans

  Essentials Magenta Magenta Plus
Cost $60 for one line
$45 for two lines
$35 for three lines
$30 for four lines
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$40 for three lines
$35 for four lines
$85 for one line
$70 for two lines
$47 for three lines
$43 for four lines
Unlimited Talk & Text Yes Yes Yes
Unlimited 4G Data Yes Yes Yes
Mobile Hotspot Unlimited 3G 3GB of 4G LTE, then unlimited 3G 20GB of 4G LTE, then unlimited 3G
Netflix & Quibi No Netflix Basic, one screen
Netflix Standard, two screens
55 Plus Plan Yes Yes Yes
Military Plan No Yes Yes
First Responder Plan No Yes Yes

T-Mobile keeps its post-paid plans short and sweet with just three options. Each plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data, but the perks really set them apart. You can save with the straightforward Essentials plan or opt for the bells and whistles of Magenta and Magenta Plus. Here’s a bit more about each plan:


The Essentials plan will run you $60 for one line, $45 each for two, $30 each for three, and $26 a piece for four lines of service. That makes it the easiest and most affordable way to try post-paid service on T-Mobile’s network. As previously mentioned, the plan includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data.

It also offers unlimited texting in almost every international destination and gives you unlimited 2G data when visiting Mexico and Canada. International phone calls get charged on a per-minute basis and international data has its own charges, too.

Here are a few other essential details you need to know about the Essentials plan:

  • It does not include taxes and fees in the monthly price.
  • It includes unlimited hotspot at 3G speeds.
  • It limits video streaming to standard definition (480p).

Best for:

  • Users who want talk, text, and data without extra frills.
  • Users who want international access but don’t need top-end speeds.


T-Mobile’s Magenta plan is slightly more expensive, costing $70 for one line, and $120 for two lines, but the third line is free right now. If you need a fourth line, you’ll pay just $140 per month. You’ll still get unlimited talk, text, and data, and all three are available in Canada and Mexico too. However, you’ll only have 5GB of international 4G LTE data before you drop to 2G speeds.

The Magenta plan offers 3GB of 4G LTE hotspot data per month, but you’ll drop down to unlimited 3G speeds after that. It’s also a great plan if you’re on a flight with Gogo internet service. You can enjoy unlimited texting and a free hour of in-flight Wi-Fi.

Here are a few more perks that come with the Magenta plan:

  • It includes taxes and fees in your monthly rate.
  • Plans with two or more lines include one Netflix Basic or Quibi free for a year.
  • It limits video streaming to standard definition (480p).

Best for:

  • Users who want to know their exact monthly cost.
  • Anyone who plans to use Netflix Basic — or Quibi if you really want to.

Magenta Plus

If you want the biggest and best that T-Mobile offers, Magenta Plus is the way to go. One line costs $85 per month, two lines are $70 each, and a third line is free. If you need four lines of service, you can expect to pay just $43 each per month. All the unlimited perks remain the same, and your international data is available at double speeds.

Instead of one hour of in-flight Wi-Fi, Magenta Plus provides unlimited Wi-Fi and texting for the duration of your flight. The Magenta Plus plan adds Scam Shield Premium to the mix, which allows you to block or screen calls you may not want. You can stream up to 20GB of 4G LTE hotspot data, but after that, you’ll drop to 3G speeds.

Here are the rest of the Magenta Plus perks:

  • It includes taxes and fees in your monthly rate.
  • Plans with two or more lines include Netflix Standard or Quibi free for a year.
  • Video streaming is available in HD resolution (720p).

Best for:

  • Users who want the best quality streaming on T-Mobile’s network.
  • Anyone who flies often and needs wi-fi and texting.

Unlimited 55 plans

The plans above are great for everyday consumers, but T-Mobile is an even better fit if you meet a few extra criteria. One option is an Unlimited 55 plan, which is only available to two-line households above the age of 55. Each plan — Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta Plus — has an Unlimited 55 option, and they cost $27.50 per line, $35 per line, and $45 per line, respectively.

All three include unlimited talk, text, and data on the T-Mobile network. You even get five layers of scam-blocking protection. The essentials plan offers international texting, Magenta adds data to the mix, and Magenta Plus doubles your data speed.

Unlimited 55 highlights:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Five layers of scam-blocking protection
  • SD streaming on Essentials and Magenta, HD streaming on Magenta Plus

Military plans

Active duty military members, veterans, and their families can save too, but only on Magenta and Magenta Plus plans. They designed these options for four-line accounts. You’ll pay $100 per month for Magenta with autopay, or $140 per month for Magenta Plus. The Magenta plan offers SD streaming while Magenta Plus upgrades the quality to HD quality. Both options offer data and texting while abroad.

Military highlights:

  • Five layers of scam-blocking protection
  • SD streaming on Magenta, HD streaming on Magenta Plus
  • 3GB of 4G hotspot on Magenta, 20GB of 4G hotspot on Magenta Plus
  • Four lines for $100 or $140 per month

First Responder plans

The last special offer from T-Mobile is for first responders and their families. The details are the same as the military plans, from the four-line structure to the data caps and perks. That means you’ll pay $100 for the Magenta plan and $140 for Magenta Plus, but there’s still no Essentials option. Streaming quality is the same — SD with Magenta and HD with Magenta Plus and the hotspot matches.

First Responder highlights:

  • Five layers of scam-blocking protection
  • SD streaming on Magenta, HD streaming on Magenta Plus
  • 3GB of 4G hotspot on Magenta, 20GB of 4G hotspot on Magenta Plus
  • Four lines for $100 or $140 per month

Post-paid tablets and wearable plans

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 on table with S Pen

The T-Mobile post-paid plans for tablets and other connected devices are similar to the plans available for phones. They follow the same Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta Plus naming scheme, but the cost is lower for each. Check the table below for pricing options:

  Essentials Magenta Magenta Plus
Tablets $15 $20 $20
Wearables $10 $10 $10

Your tablet won’t function as its own line of service, but you can easily add a device to your current wireless plan. If you opt for the Essentials or Magenta plans, you’ll get unlimited texting, 3G data, and standard definition streaming. However, you may notice reduced speeds for the Essentials plan. The Magenta Plus tablet plan offers HD streaming at 1080p resolution, but no other perks.

Connecting a wearable to T-Mobile is very simple as it will cost you $10 per month on any plan. All three options include unlimited talk, text, and data at up to 512kbps. If you’re planning to connect a device to T-Mobile, you’ll also have to pick up a SIM card for a fee.

Pre-paid T-Mobile plans

  T-Mobile Connect Simply Prepaid Simply Prepaid Unlimited Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus
Maximum connected lines 5 5 5 5
Cost 2GB for $15
5GB for $25
$40 for one line
$70 for two lines
$100 for three lines
$130 for four lines
$50 for one line
$80 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$140 for four lines
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$150 for four lines
Domestic Talk & Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Domestic Data 2GB or 5GB 10GB Unlimited Unlimited
Hotspot Full speeds up to data cap Full speeds up to data cap Unlimited 3G Up to 10GB 4G LTE
Coverage in Canada and Mexico Not available Available for $5 per month Available for $5 per month Available for $5 per month
Music Unlimited Not available Included Included Included

If you’re looking to save a bit of money and take the prepaid route, T-Mobile has four options that should meet your needs. You can save the most money with the relatively limited Connect plan or inch closer to a full post-paid plan with any of the Simply Prepaid options. Learn more about each one below:

T-Mobile Connect

The T-Mobile Connect plan is the most affordable option around. It keeps things simple with just two options — a $15 plan with 2GB of 4G LTE data or a $25 plan with 5GB of 4G LTE data. Both plans offer unlimited talk and text, a common theme among T-Mobile’s offerings.

If 2GB of data doesn’t seem like much, T-Mobile will boost your cap by 500MB per year for the first five years you stay on the Connect plan. In theory, you can get 4.5GB per month for just $15 or 7.5GB for $25 per month just for sticking around.

Connect highlights:

  • 2GB or 5GB 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Mobile hotspot available at full 4G LTE speeds up to your data cap

Best for:

  • Users who want a basic amount of data at a low price

Simply Prepaid

T-Mobile’s feature-rich prepaid plans with higher data caps fall under the Simply Prepaid umbrella, and the most affordable tier offers 10GB of 4G LTE data. The plan costs $40 for one line, $35 for two lines, and just $30 per month for each line after that.

Domestic talk and text are unlimited, and you get mobile hotspot access at full speeds up to your data cap. If you reach your 10GB limit in a single billing cycle, T-Mobile will throttle you down to 2G speeds for the rest of the month. You can add 5GB of 4G data and talk and text in Canada and Mexico for another $5 per month.

Simply Prepaid highlights:

  • 10GB of 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Up to 10GB of mobile hotspot data
  • Starts at $40 per month

Best for:

  • Users who don’t need a ton of data but want the option of hotspot access

Simply Prepaid Unlimited

The Simply Prepaid Unlimited plan is similar to the basic Simply Prepaid plan. Domestic talk and text remain included, and for $10 more per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE data. Each line after the first line of service costs an additional $30 per month, and you can access unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds.

If you use 50GB of 4G LTE data in a single billing cycle you may face carrier prioritization, but you can add the same international options as offered in the Simply Prepaid plan.

Simply Prepaid Unlimited highlights:

  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 3G mobile hotspot included
  • $50 per month for the first line, $30 for each additional line

Best for:

  • Users who want to use their data without limits but don’t need 4G hotspot

Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus

The final prepaid option, Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus, is the one to pick if you’re a heavy-duty data user with a serious need for a mobile hotspot. You get unlimited talk, text, and data as you’d expect, as well as up to 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot data and unlimited 3G speeds thereafter. T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan costs $60 per month for one line and $30 per month for each additional line.

Just like the previous options, international talk, text, and data are available for additional fees. Thanks to Music Unlimited, you can stream licensed songs to your heart’s content without counting against your data usage.

Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus highlights:

  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot followed by unlimited 3G
  • $60 per month for one line, $30 for each additional line

Best for:

  • Users who want the best T-Mobile prepaid experience around

Metro by T-Mobile

Although Metro is technically a separate carrier, it’s wholly-owned by T-Mobile and acts as an MVNO on the network. Just like T-Mobile’s prepaid plans, you can choose from options with limited and unlimited data. The 10GB plan starts at $40 per month ,while unlimited plans with 5GB and 15GB of hotspot will run you $50 and $60 per month respectively.
Another reason to opt for Metro by T-Mobile is the perks. The carrier’s unlimited plans each include 100GB of Google One cloud storage, and the $60 plan comes with an Amazon Prime membership. Metro’s plans don’t include international service in the base price, but you can add talk and text to hundreds of countries for a price.
Metro by T-Mobile highlights:
  • 10GB 4G LTE data from $40 per month
  • Unlimited data options for $50 to $60 (with either 5 or 15GB hotspot access, respectively) 
  • Unique perks including Amazon Prime Membership and more, dependent on plan 

Best for:

  • Users who love the T-Mobile network but want some extra perks for their cash

Which of T-Mobile’s plans is right for you?

The T-Mobile logo at MWC 2018.

The T-Mobile Magenta plan is the best for most users at $70 per month with taxes and fees. A single line of the Essentials plan doesn’t save you too much per month, and multi-line plans add on the perks with Magenta and even Magenta Plus. Adding 4G LTE hotspot to the mix and the potential for Netflix and Quibi included tip the scales in Magenta’s favor.

If you qualify for the 55 Plus plan, military plan, or first responder plan, those are the way to go. The latter two are only available in Magenta and Magenta Plus, and the prices are tough to beat.

If you don’t care about the perks of the post-paid plans, T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid options are great too with unlimited options and comfortable prices.

T-Mobile vs the competition

Sprint Verizon T Mobile and Verizon carriers stock photo

Credit: Edgar Cervantes/ Android Authority

If you’re here to switch carriers, you’re probably looking for a head-to-head showdown. We’ll stack T-Mobile against Verizon and AT&T to give you just the battle you’re looking for. Comparison shopping is the easiest way to decide the right carrier for you. We’ll compare our favorite plans from The best unlimited data plans in the US to show you how each carrier stacks up.

  Magenta Plus (T-Mobile) Unlimited Elite (AT&T) Get More Unlimited (Verizon)
Cost $85 for one line
$70 for two lines
$47 for three lines
$43 for four lines
$85 for one line
$75 for two lines
$60 for three lines
$50 for four lines
$90 for one line
$80 for two lines
$65 for three lines
$55 for four lines
Data Unlimited 4G LTE 100GB of Premium 4G Data 75GB of Premium 4G Data and Unlimited 4G LTE
Talk and Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Streaming HD Streaming HD Streaming with Stream Saver HD Streaming
Hotspot 20GB of 4G LTE then unlimited 3G 30GB of 4G LTE per line 30GB of 4G LTE
International Texting, 2G data Texting to 120 countries Texting to 200 countries
Extra Perks Netflix Standard or Quibi
Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi and texting
5G Access
Apple Music
Disney Plus
5G Access

As you can see, the top-tier plans follow similar pricing structures, and unlimited talk, text, and data are all standard. AT&T and Verizon are more specific with plan details, and offer international texting in over 120 countries. T-Mobile’s plan is the most affordable of the three, regardless if you have one line or four. If you want to do further research on Verizon or AT&T, check out the links below:

Want T-Mobile’s service on a budget?

You don’t have to sign up for T-Mobile to get access to the T-Mobile network. We already talked about Metro by T-Mobile, but there are a number of MVNOs available that use the Un-Carrier’s network at a fraction of the cost. Not all of the MVNOs on T-Mobile’s network are large or well-known, but it’s tough to look past options like Mint Mobile and Google Fi. 

Check out the table below for a few of our favorite alternatives:

  Google Fi Metro by T-Mobile Mint Mobile Straight Talk US Mobile
Cost Flexible plan starts at $20 for one line and $10 per GB of data
Unlimited starts at $70 per line
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$120 for four lines
Plans start at $25 per month after intro promo Basic plans start at $30 per month
Unlimited plans start at $35 per month
Build your own plan for as little as $5 per month
Unlimited starts at $40 per month
Talk & Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Basic plan includes 1,500 minutes
Unlimited on other plans
As little as 75 minutes and 50 texts
Up to unlimited
Data Pay per GB on the Flexible plan
Unlimited up to 22GB on the Unlimited plan
Unlimited up to 35GB 3GB for $25
8GB for $35
12GB for $45
Basic plan includes 100MB
Other plans range from 5GB to unlimited
As little as 50MB
Up to unlimited
Hotspot Full-speed available at per GB rate
Full speed available with unlimited
15GB included Included with your data cap 10GB hotspot included with unlimited (Not available with AT&T SIMs) Included with custom plans
Add-ons available
International Flexible includes unlimited texts, low rate for calls, $10 per GB
Unlimited includes data and texts, low rate for calls outside of included list
Available as an add-on Calling to Mexico and Canada Global calling cards available Up to 10GB free
Traveller and Jetsetter add-ons available
Extras Flexible plan has a monthly cost cap
Unlimited includes a Google One membership
Google One membership
Amazon Prime membership
Free SIM Card None Pick your perks with multi-line unlimited plans

Google Fi

The carrier made by Google is a great fit if you plan to pay per gig or you expect to go abroad often. With monthly bill limits, you’ll never pay past a certain point even if you use mountains of data. Thanks to Fi’s reliance on multiple networks, you can always get the best signal available — even abroad.

Metro by T-Mobile

We’ve already mentioned Metro as a T-Mobile prepaid alternative, but its perks and plans make the MVNO a solid choice no matter your needs. If you opt for unlimited service, you’ll be rewarded with 15GB of hotspot included as well as Google One and Amazon Prime memberships. Unfortunately, you’ll have to head into a Metro store to sign up for most services.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile, the carrier owned by Ryan Reynolds, is an affordable alternative for service if you only want limited data. Plans range from 3GB to 12GB and you’ll never pay more than $45 per month for one line of service. You may not get much by way of extra perks, but if you sign up for multi-month plans you’ll save even more money.

Straight Talk

One of the easiest MVNOs to sign up for, Straight Talk is available at most Walmart locations and actually supports most of the main carriers. You can go for a limited talk option with just a little bit of data, or spend more for unlimited service. Affordability is key, so you’ll pay a bit extra for bonus features like international access, but Straight Talk is an easy way to grab the basics.

US Mobile

If you want a plan that’s perfectly tailored to your needs, US Mobile is the way to go. You can choose your ideal level of talk, text, and data for as little as $5 per month or go unlimited for $40. 5G access will cost you a little extra, but it’s nice to know that it’s available. When you add multiple lines of unlimited you’ll get the chance to add subscription services like Disney Plus, Spotify, and Playstation Plus.


What phones can you use on T-Mobile?

Google Pixel 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

As one of the big three carriers in the US, T-Mobile supports a wide variety of 4G LTE and 5G devices. Here is a shortlist of some of your best options:

As you can see, T-Mobile users aren’t starved for choice. If you want to look through all of the best options, feel free to head over to our list of the best T-Mobile phones to spend your money on.

You can also bring your own phone to T-Mobile if you recently upgraded or you’re just not ready for a new device. However, T-Mobile is a GSM carrier, so you’ll have to first make sure that your phone is GSM compatible. Verizon and Sprint are two main CDMA carriers and AT&T is a GSM option, so you’ll have the easiest time bringing an AT&T device to the network.

See also: Best Android phones | Best cheap Android phones

The most important factor in bringing your own phone to T-Mobile is band support. Check out the table below for all of the bands T-Mobile uses across the 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G networks:

Frequency Band Network Supported
39GHz N260 5G mmWave
28GHz N261 5G mmWave
1900MHz 2 2G
1700/2100MHz 4
3G and 4G LTE
850MHz 5 4G LTE
700MHz 12 4G LTE
600MHz 71 4G LTE

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Did T-Mobile buy Sprint and what does this mean for customers new and old?
Yes, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is now complete, with the new brand simply keeping the T-Mobile name.

Q: What does the Sprint and T-Mobile merger mean for its customers?
A: Existing T-Mobile customers won’t see many immediate changes, though they can expect better service coverage. Sprint users will note a few changes, including the ability to roam into T-Mobile’s network with no extra charges. T-Mobile has also shut down the Sprint 5G network, though Sprint users will have access via T-Mobile’s 5G network in supported areas. For now, the Sprint name will continue to be used for legacy customers, but eventually, T-Mobile will phase out the Sprint brand completely.

Q: Who owns T-Mobile?
This question used to be a lot easier to answer, prior to the Sprint and T-Mobile merger. Deutsche Telekom is still the majority owner of the new T-Mobile, controlling around 43 percent. Softbank is the second-largest controlling part, with around a 24 percent cut. The rest of the shares are held by outside shareholders.  

Q: How do you unlock a T-Mobile phone?
A: You can unlock your T-Mobile phone for use with another network as long as you meet certain requirements including an account in good standing, a fully paid for device active on the network for at least 40 days for postpaid accounts, and a few other hoops for prepaid. For more specific instruction, head over to T-Mobile. 

Q: Is T-Mobile GSM or CDMA?
A: Technically T-Mobile supports GSM, alongside its LTE and 5G standards. That said, former Sprint customers will have CDMA based phones. That means technically T-Mobile runs on all standards for now, though the CDMA network will be phased out in time. 

Q: Can I use a Verizon phone on T-Mobile?
A: Most likely yes. While Verizon is a CMDA carrier and T-Mobile runs on GSM, the former’s devices typically are designed with all the necessary GSM bands as well (for use while traveling, etc). Be sure to check out the specific Verizon phone in question and make sure it is capable of running on the same bands required by T-Mobile in your area. 

Q: How good is T-Mobile?
A: Obviously the answer to this varies on what you’re looking for and where in the US you live. That said, don’t assume it won’t work well if you tried T-Mobile years ago and found it wasn’t particularly strong in your area. Years ago T-Mobile was best suited for urban areas, but with changes to its network (including the purchase of Sprint), this is no longer the case. Consult T-Mobile’s coverage map for more details. 

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