Mar 26 AT 1:09 PM Nick Gray 66 Comments

T-Mobile’s contract-free HTC One priced as low as $99


Before we get started, we need to clear a few things up. T-Mobile will not be selling the HTC One for $99. Our title is blatantly misleading to show you what consumers will see when the walk into a T-Mobile store in April to purchase the HTC One. As part of T-Mobile’s new Un-Carrier strategy, T-Mobile will no longer lock consumers into two-year contracts in an effort to recuperate the cost of subsidized phones.

Plain and simple. No more contracts. No more phone subsidies.

The $99 price tag for the HTC One that you see in the title is actually the minimum down-payment you’ll have to make when you agree to a 24 month equipment installation plan to purchase the phone. Customers with questionable credit history will be required to increase their down-payment, but their monthly installment will be decreased. The monthly payment gets added on top of your regular bill, but once the phone is paid off, the extra charge disappears.

T-Mobile has not disclosed the full retail price of the HTC One, but we can assume that customers will be asked to pony up $20 for 24 months (the same amount T-Mobile will charge for the iPhone 5), bringing the final sticker price to $579.

We applaud T-Mobile for its efforts in changing the way service providers do business, but we’re hoping they can find a simple way to educate consumers and show the value of their new pricing structure. Most people would love to pay $100 for the HTC One, but we have a feeling that confusion will settle in when T-Mobile reps start telling them that their monthly bill is going to increase.

What’s your take on T-Mobile’s new pricing and phone payment options? Will consumers be able to easily identify the long-term savings they would get by switching to T-Mobile?

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • Taylor Wimberly

    I love that T-Mobile has separated the device from the service plan. You don’t have to do an installment plan. You can pay for the device up front, or just bring your own device (like the $299 Nexus 4).

    • OutofPlace

      That’s exactly what I did (brought in a Nexus 4). I just recently migrated from a traditional plan to a value plan and, in the end, it saved me about $50 per month. It’s a good deal. But as someone who has been with magenta for about a decade I was very turned off by their in store pricing displays. I went into the store with foreknowledge of the new pricing strategy for phones. But this was only after having a very confusing and convoluted conversation with one of their operators over the phone. They are tying themselves in knots trying to explain installment plans because they will not call them installment plans. They are trying to continue with the legacy of offering a deal on a phone as a result of signing a contract (which is something you still have to do with a value plan).

      Tmo should just be up front about their model: they are offering very inexpensive contract plans if you sign on for two years. The change is a good one because you are getting your plan for much less per month. If you want to buy a phone we’ll sell you one. It will cost more (as a lump sum payment or over a series of installments) than a deal rolled into a contract, but in the end you make out better. And if you decide to keep a phone longer than two years (something I think most smartphone buyers would do nowadays) then you make out even better.

      p.s. I really like Tmo as a service provider. I’ve been happy enough to stick around despite the chance to leave many times. But I have to call them out on the Nexus. It is patently dishonest that they are charge something on the order of $150 more for the Nexus 4 than what you would pay for it through Google. That’s something I would expect some shady ebay seller to do. When I pointed that out in the store I could tell the service rep was very uncomfortable with that knowledge.

      • Jeremy

        And I thought the same thing about the Nexus. But I’m thinking that Google sold it at little to no profit. Tmobile was making a profit on it. If someone was to do payments on it, losing money and monthly payment just doesn’t seem the way to go.
        Not to mention the year warranty that’s with a Tmobile phone (basically replacing it for cheap) vs. LG’s warranty bought through Google, etc… Just the few extras that add up, there has to be profit had somewhere for Tmo.

        • OutofPlace

          I sure don’t have a problem with Tmo making a profit – free market capitalism and all that. I guess you are right. My experience just left a bad taste in my mouth.

          I think my whole point of contention was how they seem to be obfuscating the phone is now separate from the plan message. I think that message is great. I think they should (as Nick’s article today talks about) go all in on that message. But the whole bridge to value message makes it sound like you are getting a deal on the phone by packaging it in with a new contract which is completely counter-message. Their pricing displays in the store are, in my opinion, intentionally deceptive too. I’m glad they’ve changed their message in the last few days. I think what they have going on now will resonate with people who, like me, were fatigued by the contract and phone shopping process.

    • theviper21

      I agree – hopefully they’ll do the right thing and market it properly though. Instead of a more arbitrary termination fee like what you get with other carriers, it seems like it will be more like you just pay off the balance of your phone, which will make a lot more sense to consumers.

      Great step forward for consumers and we can only hope this will eventually catch on with other traditional carriers.

    • Andrew Goodwin

      I think it will work fine. You have to remember that they can pay the phone off when ever they want to. The biggest kicker for me is if the service is really going to be better. I would not mind selling my phone now on ebay for 250 and putting that down on a HTC ONE, then when a new phone comes out I just sell that one and pay off the amount owed. Then I do it all over again. Thats where the true savings are going to be.

  • Vance

    I think I just had a small orgasm. My company reimburses me for my monthly phone bill, but not for one time hardware purchases. With the bulk of the phone cost rolling into my phone bill, t-mobile just saved me $500!

    • spazby

      good for you. unfortunately my company actually looks at the phone bill and any charges outside of monthly service plan do not get reimbursed…

    • MatthewH

      My boss just gives me a monthly stipend check for my cell phone and internet (I work from home). Thus the cheaper I can buy it, the more I save. So of course, I went with a pre-paid plan and a Nexus, the cheapest, best phone option currently out there.

  • Deon Davis

    I think its great that it will have only a $99 down payment, it should pull a lot of people in. The sales rep will lay everything down at the time of purchase and the cust will have to sign a agreement that they understand the monthly payments. If the cust tries to play dumb after the fact that’s on them. Me I cant wait until the One is released! I plan on paying the upfront price for mines.

    • R.S

      Hopefully the sales reps have gotten better informed these past couple weeks because a while back, I spoke to one (store manager) and he kept telling me that we (on a family plan) would save money in the long run by switching to a new plan but he could not show me how or where.

  • uknowme

    Time to check my ETF for Sprint!

  • Nick Gray

    Personally, I think T-Mobile’s new UnCarrier strategy will be great for consumers. It’s hard to explain at first since most people are been brainwashed into thinking that contracts always give them the best deals on phones.

    I’ll be paying the full retail price of the HTC One once T-Mobile starts selling it next month.

    • aufan1

      My calculator must be broken. I paid $270 for my S3 and for two years I’m paying $50/month for unlimited Talk, text and data. This comes out to $61.25/month.

      Under the new contract, I’ll pay $70 PLUS $20 for the next 24 months for an S3. Then I have my monthly rate of $50 which comes out to $72.91.

      I think my contract pricing is a better deal.

      • Trav1sty

        You and I have great classic plans that were most likely a special when they were available. You’re not going to come close to that with the new T-Mo pricing so it doesn’t make sense for us to change from what we have. Other however might see a great savings with the new pricing model.

      • Nick Gray

        What plan on you on? I’ve been with T-Mobile for years and I’ve never seen a plan which give you unlimited talk, text and web for $50.

        Also, why was your phone $270? the SIII was $199 on contract and roughlt $600 full retail from T-Mobile.

        • Alan Reboli

          It didn’t premier at 199 it started out like 270 or 250 at least it was in the KC area. I remember finding a huge deal when it first came out at WalMart for like 120-130 and got two of them.

        • clocinnorcal

          I actually just got the “unlimited shared value plan” for my wife and I in December to accompany our N4′s, and it breaks down to $50 per line + tax of course.

      • Reggie

        Youre right…i dont see the upside on this contract free plan…currently i pay 79.99 for 450 min unl txt and 5gb data…under new unplan i pay 70.00 for unl min and txt but only 4gb data…i dont see the savings and oh now i have to buy the phone…the unplan benefits unTmobile…no thx…

        • Reggie

          Also where i live 4g should be citywide but i have deadspots all over where my phone will say 4g with 3or more bars and if i woild run a broadband test sometimes ill get a no network connection error inside the 4g coverage…and one more think they need to expand their overall coverage and get rid of 2g its useless…so people be careful before u switch carriers u will get 2g on major highways and suburban neigjborhoods…hope their LTE resolves this

    • jamal adam

      I agree, the average customer only sees that they are “saving” money on the phone because it is subsidized and go with a 2 year contract when in reality, over the long haul of those 2 years, they will be paying significantly more then had they paid full price for the phone and gone with a monthly contract free plan. It’s now just a matter of explaining to customers that they are saving a lot more and are getting a better deal with this new strategy.

    • aufan1

      Just like Alan said. I bought it about 6 months and acutally paid something like $329 with a $50 rebate.

    • irishrally

      Why not keep the lump sum of money, invest it, and accept t-mobile’s no interest loan? Just thinking about it from a different perspective. Sort of like the argument of deductions on your taxes – do you want the gov holding your money all year and making interest off it or you holding and investing your money. With that said the lump sum purchase up front just makes things easier.

  • DroidSamurai

    If every carriers adopt similar plan, sales of smartphone may probably slow down in the US. I think one of the reason why smartphone growth was so fast pace in the last couple years is that one had to be a really dumb person not to getting a new phone when they renew their contract: everytime you renew, you are bound by a contract for another 2 years. Your monthly payment won’t decrease if you choose to keep your old phone. Most flagship smartphones come out at a subsidized price of $199, that translates into an additional $8.29 on top of the monthly bill, which often goes above $60. If you choose to buy a slightly older model (which should still be at least a year or more newer than your old phone), you may get a deal for much lower. Assuming it’s $49, that becomes an additional of $2 a month. Because of that, many people upgrade their phone when their contract is up. With a plan like T-mo, one will pay a lower monthly bill by staying with your current phone. It will be interesting to see if T-mo can change the US mobile industry with its bold new plan.

    • Ken

      nope, not even. Im on ATT rite now and planning on switching to the new TMO. no need to do calculation on paper like u, just go to tmobile website and mess around with it n u will see real #. I chose the unlimited talk/text +500MB plan for family plan (3 lines total) just like my current on ATT. I chose 3 new galaxy note 2 on installment plan as well, just like a new contract upgrade like ATT. guess what, the bill come out 150 even with 3 galaxy note 2 payments included in the bill. On ATT my current bill for 3 lines under the family plan is exactly 200 a month but it is not unlimited talk, yes unlimited text, and only 200MB data per line. Compared to TMO, you can count the installment payment for the phone as subsidy, so 3 new phones, unlimited talk/text/500MB per line for 150 compared to the lower service on ATT for 200. I still save 50 per month even if i get all flagship phones at the moment.

      • Will

        im with at&t as well for that same 150 u get unlimited talk text and 10 gb of internet. this new tmobile is more in the long one for at&t is the way to go

    • RonakG

      Exactly. Now people have incentive to not upgrade every 2 years. Basically the big 3 were forcing people to upgrade every 2 years by brainwashing them. Slowly people will understand the long term savings of moving to t-mobile and eventually big 3 will have to introduce such plans.

      Current smartphones are really well built and powerful enough to serve average consumer for more than 2 years. There is no reason to upgrade when your current phone is serving you good.

  • Bobba

    I think the new plan is great. Their website is super simple to understand. I think this will lead to lower priced phones eventually. Also this will probably help used phones retain their value a bit longer. The Google Nexus 4 is a great option for those that dont want to spend a lot and yet still have a top tier phone. I will continue to buy used phones using craigslist and

    T-Mobile once again has the best phone lineup. Theu have The GS3, GS4, Note 2, HTC One, New Blackberry, and Nexus 4. That’s the best phones available right now.

  • ibap

    “recuperate”? While technically correct, “recover” would be less discordant. As for T-mobile having the best phone lineup – since their coverage is a big fat zero at my home and in areas nearby, they still don’t do it for me.

  • Rick

    Under their new plans, if I’m currently spending $20.00 a month to pay for the cost of my top tier smartphone; and after 2 years I only need to spend another $100.00 to purchase a new top tier smartphone, and not the typical $200.00 you pay for most top end smartphones on other carriers, and have my bill remain the same, since I’m already used to the installment plans; I’m much more likely to upgrade to a new device. $99.00 is a lot more enticing than $200 or more, especially when the total cost including installment plan is less than the other carriers.

    • Nick Gray

      Exactly. T-mobile customers will have a lower up-front cost for top-tier smartphones plus monthly savings. In the long run, T-Mobile will be saving customers several thousand dollars over the course of a decade.

      • Alan Reboli

        This has been my argument for the last 4-6 years. I’ve been showing people the math and they are dumbfounded. You need to look at the big picture and not the short haul.

        • aufan1

          I am not trying to be difficult on purpose but please show me the math.

          • R.S

            @aufan1: Even if he shows you his math, it might not be the same as your math.

            By that I mean that a lot of T-Mobile subscribers have completely different plans (many of them old) and thus the new un-carrier might not necessarily be cheaper.

            I’ve done the math and so far, it seems as if in the long run, switching to Verizon will be cheaper than staying with T-Mobile and switching to one of their new plan.

          • Nick Gray

      • redraider133

        Just hope with the metro merger they can expand their coverage outside of large cities, I would switch in a heartbeat if that happened

        • kazahani

          Yep. This is the only reason I’m not still with them. When I worked in the city they were great, but I work closer to home now, in an outlying area, and coverage is an issue. It’s a shame, because I love to support companies who are trying to bring costs down.

  • Max.Steel

    I’m so happy for T-Mobile. What is the best plan to get (true) unlimited data, voice and text?

  • Ardrid

    This is an excellent move on T-Mobile’s part. One can only hope that consumers stand up and take notice. This should also provide an increased incentive on T-Mobile’s part to continue to expand and advance their network coverage. The wife and I have been having some issues with Solavei, despite the coverage map saying we should have excellent service. I’m hoping, now that T-Mo is officially prepaid, that will improve.

  • kennyG

    Just buy the dam phone outright,,The best way to do anything you put your mind to is to OWN IT!

    • mattcoz

      Some people don’t have that kind of disposable income. What’s great is that you’re not paying any extra by paying in installments, and you can “OWN IT” anytime by paying off the balance.

    • CTown

      T-Mobile doesn’t charge interest on these installment plans; so why not take T-Mo on its offer?

  • chris2kari

    What’s the difference between 24 month “contract” and 24 month “installation plan”?

    Nothing. It’s just marketing semantics.

    The truth is they are the first carrier to abandon handset subsidies, forcing consumers to pay for the handset in full (albeit at an attractive price)

    • monk

      I don’t know if t-mobile is the same, but in other countries this is the norm. The big difference is that you actually own the phone. Its unlocked, you can put any sim card you want (no roaming if you travel to other countries) and you can sell it or change carrier on the second day without paying an ETF. Of course you still need to pay the 24 installment monthly payment like any financing but is only $20 and with no interest.

    • Nick Gray

      T-Mobile is simply trying to separate the phone from the monthly service plan. this allows people who are not interested in buying a new phone to save a significant amount of money. Yes, if you buy a new phone on day one, you won’t save much, but if you buy that same phone 6-12 months later or buy a used phone off of ebay, you’ll save quite a bit of money since AT&T, Verizon and Sprint do not have lower rates for customers who do not purchase phones on two-year contracts.

    • sly

      It’s definitely a bit of marketing but there’s value in the plans. The major difference is that after you’ve paid for your handset (be it upfront or after 24 months), your monthly payment is simply for service. If you’re someone who habitually upgrade phones every 2 years, it’s probably not going to help you in terms of cost.

  • Nathan D.

    This is awesome, I love this knew plan. But, I’m might being leaving them soon for a pre paid serves soon.

  • HeadDoc

    This might actually make me switch from evil AT&T. I think this strategy is a winner, and has the potential to make midrange phones the new normal… (even though I am a sucker for high-end handsets…)

  • rr2009

    I don’t see any difference. At the end, you’re paying full price if you bought an unlocked phone.

  • Niran
  • BCA

    I have a no contract Tmo plan & love it. No phone subsidies, but I enjoy the fact that they allow me to buy a decent phone for $20 a month and a nominal down payment. Basically how I’ve bought all my phones for the last several years. The rate is lower than I paid with a contract and 2 of my 4 lines have the new unlimited 4g data, along with unlimited talk/text. Rarely lose calls, and I’ve always had good service when I need it. If you watch, even on these plans, I’ve managed a $200 off on some of the last phones I bought. Got my MyTouch 4G, (htc), that way and also got $200 back on my HTC Amaze 4G. Have to watch for those specials, but I’m not complaining.

  • mushasho

    If I’m paying full price I want fully unlocked devices, like the rest of the world…

  • 347nd

    Theres are reason Teen-Mob is only no 4 in US, and theres a reason why HTC is on the verge of going bankrupt.
    Just sayin (i have VZW).

  • Matthew Coppola

    The key is driving home the concept that though your monthly bill may not differ a whole lot from another provider with the phone payment tacked on, on T-mobile your monthly price will go down once the phone is paid for compared to a traditional provider who does not reduce your monthly fee once they’ve recouped their ‘subsidy’

  • Chris

    Just kinda curious if these new plans t mobile has now would work for those who are still under contract

  • rashad360

    I like how T-Mo is explicitly dividing the cost of the phone and the plan. It isn’t revolutionary but the transparency is nice.

  • donger

    Great way to go, T-Mobile.

  • amit kumar

    HTC One is surely a excessive phone with its smart aspects. Really this is specific phone. I checked full specification of this phone this site as well.

  • Andy

    Anyone know how current t-mobile customers with contracts will be handled if they’re still in contract but are eligible for an upgrade on their phone?

  • Jackx

    T-mobile and HTC is the best

  • irishrally

    Free car dock while availability lasts!!!

  • Riley

    I love that T-Mobile is changing things up and offering the HTC One and other phones for $99. As soon as the One gets here, I will jump on that opportunity, especially since it has a fast processor, great camera, and a 1080p display. Given that it takes some time to get to work at DISH, I like to keep myself busy by watching my live and recorded shows on my phone. I am able to stream from my DVR wherever I am going with the DISH Anywhere app and I think it should work wonderfully on a full HD display.

  • Mobile and Dth Recharge Services app

    What a boring article it is? I never read the article like this. Kindly try something Good One.

  • Carla

    I haven’t put much thought into this yet. I worked all night and I’m overly tired. I was thinking though, they may not call it a contract but it seems like one to me. If you don’t have the money to pay the phone off and making your $20 monthly payment is your only option. Then you are pretty much still in a contract for the two years it takes to pay it off. I’ve got 4 lines me, my husband and two kids. Soon my other two kids will be old enough and need phones. So right now if we upgraded we would be paying an extra $80 on the bill. When I’m paying for 6 new phone It’ll be an extra $120 a month added to the bill. My family of six can’t afford to buy $600 phones. We have to manage our money I’d rather have a one time $200 upgrade then a $120 bill every month for two years.

  • omar essam

    Iam from Egypt and i want to buy htc one from please i would like know the real price for it because i was told many.and which is better locked or unlocked.pleasa reply me as soon as possible