Android and Me

Is switching from T-Mobile to Virgin Mobile a “no-brainer?”

1 year ago 92

Last month T-Mobile un-leashed their no-contract Simple Choice plans, which separated the mobile device costs from the service plan. This is a relatively new concept for the Big 4 US carriers, but Virgin Mobile recently reminded us that they have offered similar no-contract plans for Android devices since 2011.

This week Virgin Mobile rolled out a new promotion which attempts to lure away T-Mobile customers to their service by bribing them with a $100 credit. They compare their $55 unlimited plan with 2.5GB data to T-Mobile’s $60 unlimited plan with 2.5GB data, and boast a savings of $120 over two years. Virgin Mobile claims the decision to switch is a “no-brainer.”

We love to share the benefits of unlocked devices and no-contract plans, so let’s compare Virgin Mobile’s current offerings with T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice plans.

Selection of Plans

  • T-Mobile: Pre-paid plans start for as low as $30 per month. Simple Choice plans start at $50 for one line, $30 for the second line, and $10 for each additional line. Simple Choice lines start with 500MB of data, but users can upgrade to 2.5GB for an additional $10 or get truly unlimited data for $20 per line.
  • Virgin Mobile: Beyond Talk plans include $35 for 300 minutes, $45 for 1200 minutes, and $55 for unlimited minutes. All plans come with “unlimited” data that is throttled after consuming 2.5GB.

Winner – T-Mobile: This one is a clear victory for T-Mobile since they offer a wider choice of plans. T-Mobile’s basic $30 pre-paid plan with 5GB of data is unmatched, and their multi-line plans offer greater savings over Virgin Mobile.

Selection of Phones

  • T-Mobile: Compatible with most GSM phones, including unlocked devices like the LG Nexus 4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, etc.
  • Virgin Mobile: Limited to CDMA phones that were designed to run on Sprint’s network.

Winner – T-Mobile: With the ability to bring your own GSM phone, T-Mobile is once again the clear leader.

Cost of Tethering

  • T-Mobile: Tethering is included with Simple Choice plans. Their unlimited plan only comes with 500MB of data for tethering, and each additional 2GB will cost $10 per month.
  • Virgin Mobile: Tethering costs an extra $15 per month for 1 GB.

Winner – T-Mobile: Another easy victory for T-Mobile. They include tethering with their Simple Choice plans and additional data is cheaper than Virgin Mobile.

Network Speeds

Results from PCMag's nationwide 2012 speed test.

Winner – T-Mobile: The 4G HSPA+ network of T-Mobile is faster than Sprint’s nationwide 3G/4G (WiMAX) networks. Both carriers are currently rolling out 4G LTE and expect to cover 200 million people by the end of 2013, but T-Mobile is in the lead with speeds when you compare nationwide results.

OVERALL WINNER: T-Mobile

I don’t have much else to add, but it looks like sticking with T-Mobile is a “no-brainer.” Sure you could get a $100 credit for switching to Virgin Mobile, but then you would have to buy a new device and put up with Sprint’s 3G network — the slowest 3G network of any nationwide carrier.

We love to see no-contract carriers compete with each other, but maybe the Virgin Mobile should be targeting customers from the more expensive carriers like Verizon and AT&T.

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