T-Mobile Test Drive

The crazy side of me is considering leaving the coverage paradise of Verizon Wireless for the straight-forward, lower, provided with perks pricing of T-Mobile. So I finally signed up for their Test Drive option: 7 days with an iPhone 5S on their network. While you have to order the kit online, you simply turn it in to a retail store at the end of the week. So how did it go?

Receipt

The package came around 21:00 via UPS Ground. It consisted of a T-Mo branded box inside a bubble wrap envelope. The iPhone 5S was Space Gray, 32GB, in mint condition, and came with charger and EarPods. Good on T-Mo for sending a phone with a usable amount of storage and fresh accessories.

It hadn’t been updated to iOS 8.1 yet, so I needed to do that before restoring from iCloud. Hey, it’s not a real Test Drive unless I use it like normal, right?

Once the device has restored enough to be usable, you receive a message from T-Mobile via SMS containing a link on Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your Test Drive. These include things like enabling call forwarding (they even provide per carrier instructions).

Some thoughts:

  • iCloud Backup and Restore is fantastic. Same settings, down to the home screen layout.
  • Call Forwarding and iMessage mean no missed calls or messages, even when using not-my-phone for a week.

It’s really this easy. Amazing.

Speeds

I live and work in an area that T-Mobile marks as having “Excellent” 4G and LTE coverage. But throughout the first half of my Test Drive, I consistently received speeds around .15-.30 Mbps, whether at home, at work, or near the university, indoors, in the car, or outdoors. Tech support said it would take about 3 business days for engineers to remedy the situation. Although they said I may be able to get an extension on the free trial, I found this unacceptable and quickly returned to my Verizon-capable iPhone.

Coverage

All my friends with T-Mobile are disappointed in the coverage. “When you get near the edge of town, you’re done.” Not what I want on a mobile.

Not Yet

Though the media shows T-Mobile making serious strides, their network is not yet ready for me. The loaner phone will go back tomorrow; I will likely stick with Verizon. My next question: traditional plan or Edge?