T-Mobile, iPhone 6, and AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade

I recently said that I most likely would not switch to T-Mobile due to remaining issues with their network.

I was wrong.

Sign Up

I signed up on 30 November 2014 at my local T-Mobile store. I ordered a 64GB iPhone 6 in space gray. It didn’t ship until the 9th or 10th.

They signed me up for JUMP! even though I said I didn’t want it.

Service

I asked for my new T-Mobile SIM to be placed into my unlocked Verizon iPhone 5. Though I can’t use T-Mo’s LTE with this phone, I can still get “4G” speeds. This is great, except for one thing that I have discovered over the past couple weeks.

See, if there is only 1 bar of 4G signal in an area, but 4-5 bars of EDGE signal, T-Mobile is configured to prefer the stronger signal. I, however, am not configured that way. I prefer 1 bar of high-speed data over 5 of “data”. Toggling Airplane Mode on for about 10 seconds temporarily resolves this issue. T-Mobile has not provided a practical solution to this—either the phone should prefer 4G or there should be better 4G coverage, or both. My ZIP clearly shows good-excellent 4G coverage.

iPhone 6

My phone finally arrived on 15 December. Everytime I have to restore an iPhone from an iCloud backup, I am amazed at the simplicity and thoroughness of the backup. While T-Mobile LTE is generally rather slow – less than 2 Mpbs – having it at lesat prevents the phone from dropping below 4G while in the city.

I do not like the size, camera protrusion, or visible antenna bands of this iPhone. I purchased it to have LTE on T-Mobile, stay up-to-date, and for the improved polarization filter in the screen (I hated having to take my polarized sunglasses off to use my iPhone 5).

The rounded edges of the glass are fantastic. I love Touch ID; it is simple security, and I greatly appreciate apps that integrate it. I have not had opportunity yet to use Apple Pay, but I was disappointed to find out that Simple does not yet support Apple Pay for their debit cards.

Carrier Insurance vs. AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade

Carrier insurance is generally a bad deal. T-Mobile’s upgrade-more-often plan, JUMP!, is nice in that it at least bundles this insurance into the $10/month fee. But I don’t have a need to upgrade more frequently than every two or three years, so it didn’t makes sense for me.

My decision came down to AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade. Their pricing plans for the iPhone are very similar. Both effectively extend the warranty against manufacturers defects, both provide coverage for accidental damage (including liquid damage), and both cover a battery replacement if your battery’s capacity is reduced beyond 50% of it’s designed capacity. They do all of this for $99 plus deductibles for those accidental damage claime ($79 with AppleCare+, $75 with SquareTrade).

They differ in that AppleCare+ offers 2 accidental damage claims and unlimited technical support, while SquareTrade offers 4 accidental damage claims and no technical support. SquareTrade makes up for not being Apple by reimbursing Genius Bar repairs and offering next day replacements (Apple does not typically offer next day replacements).

I decided that because I typically do not need technical support, SquareTrade would better fit my situation. I probably will not need 4 accidental damage claims, but at least they are there. In two years with my iPhone 5, I claimed one refurbished replacement due to a non-working volume button, and had to replace a shattered screen with a non-OEM assembly, completely diminishing its trade-in value.

The Ups

T-Mobile service is good in the city, and I am in the city most of the time (and despite its faults, is still worlds better than Virgin Mobile). T-Mobile gives me music streaming that doesn’t count against my data, offers data rollover, and included international data and text. T-Mobile is not Verizon (whose corporate attitude I cannot bear), and offers straightforward pricing.

The iPhone’s screen is easier to see now (because of the polarization filter, though the screen size is slowly growing on me), and Touch ID is fantastic. I have insurance, and can happily carry my phone without a case or screen protector (the only way to carry an iPhone).

All around, I think I got a pretty good deal.