T-Mobile/Uncarrier 5.0 Test Drive review

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Well, I did the deed… I signed up for T-Mobile’s new Test Drive program John Legere announced late last month. My hope was that their service really is a more cost-effective, viable option for our family. Verizon has been our cellular provider for nearly a decade. But their Cadillac service has always come at a premium price. Cost, lack of unlimited data, and decline in service quality were definitely the reasons that I wanted to see if the grass was greener elsewhere. T-Mobile’s allowing you to try their service with a high end smartphone, no commitment or strings attached is simply BRILLIANT… 


I signed up the day after T-Mobile announced their new Uncarrier 5.0 and  Test Drive program. I received an email a few days later letting me know they were ready for me to tell them where to send my loaner iPhone 5s. I received my Test Drive package a few days later…truly impressive how quickly T-Mobile got my Test Drive iPhone 5s into my anxious awaiting hands.


Inside the Test Drive box T-Mobile included what looked to be a brand new iPhone 5s, lighting cable, power plug, and Apple earbuds. It is interesting that Apple appears to be supporting T-Mobile in this its effort to shake up the industry.

As I said, Verizon service in our world has been slowly degrading over the past 12 months. So much so, it was nearly unusable at our house plus barely getting service in many of the other places we spend our time. As we tested T-Mobile’s service throughout our world, it appeared to be significantly better than Verizon hands down, walking away. Many places where we had only a bar or two with Verizon were showing five bars of T-Mobile LTE. Call quality was also several quantum levels better than Verizon…crystal clear.

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Along with clear call quality, T-Mobile’s data seemed to be faster than Verizon as well. T-Mobile touts that their data throughput is far better than the others…


…and I must agree. The speed test results you see above speak for themselves. On the right is our home broadband from Comcast, the middle and right screen shots are done on Samsung Galaxy Note 3s standing in the same place in downtown Seattle. The right has the T-Mobile SIM card in it and as you can see, T-Mobile blew the DOORS OFF both Verizon Wireless (middle screen shot) and hardline cable.

It was a mere three days after receiving the Test Drive iPhone that I was nearly convinced to make the leap. But before taking the iPhone back to a brick and mortar T-Mobile store I did a cost comparison between Verizon and T-Mobile. We were paying whopping $220 for three smartphones and two iPad to share a measly 4gb data with the phones having unlimited talk and text. For a comparable plan on T-Mobile, I calculated we would be paying less than half that amount.

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I first wanted to return the iPhone 5s before talking about potentially switching from Verizon to T-Mobile. Kyle, the T-Mobile guy helping the Gadgeteer Kid and I, did not even blink or try to pressure us into their service plan at all. He did let us know we where his first Test Drive return and asked us what we thought of the Program and service, very low pressure and tech-chatty. Once that relatively quick process was done, I told him we were interested in jumping onboard and that I had some detail questions, each of which he nicely/smartly answered in turn. We walked out of the store with what I would consider a much better/stellar deal than Verizon Wireless could even get close to: unlimited talk & text, unlimited data for me and 3gb for the Gadgeteer Kid, 1gb for my wife plus 1gb each for each of our iPads…all for $130 out the door. Better yet, our Verizon smart devices all worked on T-Mobile, able to use both their 4G and LTE networks. So far I/we have zero buyer’s regret and high hopes that the UnCarrier continues to Rock.The.Boat.

Visit T-Mobile for more info.


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11 thoughts on “T-Mobile/Uncarrier 5.0 Test Drive review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Hi, I too am with Verizon on a iphone5 but still under contract until next March. the question is were your phones unlocked or off contract for you to be able to switch from verizon to tmobile? second question is where are you located and how is the coverage when you travel?


  3. We just bought two ATT 5s phones with two year contracts.

    I have a feeling we would pay huge end-of-contract penalties if we switched.

    But your article makes me remember something that has been bothering me for a while.

    I’m 66 and I remember as a kid having a party line. There would always be clicks and clacks on the line. And we couldn’t always call when we picked up the phone. We had to wait for the other people on the line to hang up.

    But easily around 1960 the phone service improved greatly. It was easy to hear people and understand them. And our dial tone was our own.

    I can’t say the same today.

    Customer service reps have headphones with horrible voice quality and often I have to ask them to move the microphone closer to their mouth.

    VoIP calls can have tons of static.

    And don’t get me started about the quality of cell phone service. My spouse and I no longer speak much on our cell phones. We either text or wait till we can get to landlines. (No wonder the young’uns text constantly. I doubt they understand each other. And can have several conversations going on at once.)

    Remember the ads for the cell phone company (Sprint?) that was so clear you could hear a “pin drop”? I doubt any company would try that today.

    Our phones may be “Smart,” but they are stupid and garbled at making calls.

    There! I feel much better now.

    Bottom Line: There’s an entire generation who thinks this is acceptable. And my generation is dying off.

  4. Chris Thompson

    It looks like a sweet deal. But, I just went and checked their coverage map. I was amazed to see that despite living about a mile from a major interstate highway here in Connecticut most of my town is only 2G! Wow. This looks like a great plan if you live in a city. I guess I’ll be with Big Red for a while more.

  5. So, in the “useful yesterday” department, the only issue I’ve ever had with T-Mob is rural
    area which would have less coverage, generally.

    T-Mob can be pretty finicky about reconnections in those areas, and worse can get
    pretty confused when the data goes in and out as it tries to keep all the myriad services people use today back in synch.

    With that said, I am still a staunch T-Mob fan, though now, as commented on an earlier article,
    via Straight Talk as an MVNO. I’ve noticed zero differences in service, one small wrinkle with GVoice as T-Mob doesn’t support CCF for voice mail (no biggie), and as I saw last week thanks to my sweet new Nexus 5, am now getting LTE speeds in the 17Mbps range.

    Switching to the MVNO, for me, just as moving to a new carrier for others, meant a savings of enough to pay for a new device, with accessories, and still no contract.

    So “ALL HAIL Carly” and the Magenta crew.

    Maybe their efforts will help turn cell phone service back into a commodity to make up (a little) for a the shenanigans they are trying with Net Neutrality, etc.

  6. @Larry and Sandy, T-Mobile will pay those termination fees from your current carrier if you switch to their service. Might be worth looking into.

  7. To bad it has to be the iphone. If they had any other phone to test but the iphone I’d consider it, but this is just apples way to say “we sold “x” more iphones” even though people are just borrowing them. I won’t be part of it.

  8. Lisa Mendenhall

    Regarding iPhone only: this is only true if you are a consumer applicant. If you are interested in testing service as a business owner (if you have a tax ID), you can sign up on the website through the T-Mobile for Business section for a rep to contact you. I am a business rep and have sent out the HTC One M8 among other models as testers. You also get 14 days trial. 🙂

  9. Well I don’t have a business tax ID so that wouldn’t work for me. Any other phone and I’d consider it…especially a Nokia Windows Phone.

  10. I tried out the test drive too. Unfortunately for me there was poor coverage at home, work, and on my commute. I guess I am stuck with my $320 month verizon plan for now.

  11. Love what T-Mobile is doing to the wireless industry, but (for me) the coverage just isn’t there yet. Deep suburbs and rural areas are problematic, and the spectrum T-Mobile uses doesn’t penetrate big buildings very well. I’d have 5 bars of LTE coverage when I walked into the supermarket, then see “No Service” by the time I’d make it to the deli counter.

    I’d still encourage people to use this test drive program regardless however. There’s no strings attached and you can save a bundle if the service works for you.

  12. I’m fed up with all the crap bloatware that’s on samsung gal s3. The unwanted and never used crap and the upgrades. I have 3 bookmarks i cannot delete. Many things like flipboard and my magazine, ant radio etc, I cannot disable or just dump. The arrogant pushy pukes at google, samsung verizon. I’m trying apple and t mobile for these reasons. Who has the simplest, fewest apps and widgets not on the phone in first place and wont download anything without ok.

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