How much does T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone plan save over two years?

Now that T-Mobile offers the iPhone, how do the four national carriers compare in terms of costs? A couple of websites have done the sums.

Our friends over at Zagg did a blog post that suggested three of the four networks come out at exactly the same annual cost when attempting to get as close as possible to like-for-like tariffs, while going with T-Mobile’s contract-free option will save you $580 over two years.

carriers

Based on unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of data per month. Sprint offers only ‘unlimited’ data (claiming not to throttle), though is not noted anyway for fast data speeds.

While this is true for individuals, it doesn’t tell the whole story … Read more

Sprint buys $480M in spectrum/customers from US Cellular, FCC fines AT&T $700K for overbilling

A couple carriers are making headlines today for different reasons. Sprint, which could soon be scooped up by Softbank, announced today (via Engadget) it is spending $480 million to acquire PCS spectrum and 585,000 customers from U.S. cellular across the Midwest. As always, the deal is subject to approval from government officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, but Sprint could take over the spectrum and customers in “parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio including the Chicago and St. Louis markets” by sometime next year:

Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of PCS spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market.

AT&T is also making the news today with the FCC announcing the carrier will pay a $700,000 fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into how the carrier handled its transition to mandatory monthly data plans (via BGR). The investigation followed complaints from consumers that AT&T had switched them from grandfathered pay-as-you-go plans to its new monthly plans as far back as 2009. According to the FCC, as part of the settlement, AT&T “has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25 to $30 a month, depending on data use”: Read more

Sprint to carry fourth-generation iPad and new iPad mini on its 4G network, no release date given

As we highlighted earlier when Apple announced the news, the nation’s third-largest carrier Sprint will add the new fourth-generation iPad and new iPad mini to its list of 4G-enabled devices. Sprint confirmed the news in a press release this afternoon, as seen after the break.

Sprint was left out when the third-generation iPad was announced last spring, due to its 4G network not being available until this summer. The iPhone 5, released in September, was the first 4G device from Apple available on Sprint’s network.

The iPad mini Wi-Fi model will be available for pre-order Oct. 26 and shipping Nov. 2. There has not been any word on the release date of the LTE models, but they’re priced at $459, $559, and $659 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB storage capacities (respectively). It should only be a few weeks after. Catch up on more iPad Mini news here.

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AT&T now out of opening day iPhone 5 stock, orders now pushed back to ’14-21 business days’

AT&T just ran out of Sept. 21 stock for the iPhone 5. The delivery page has now pushed sales to “14-21 business days,” which equals almost three to five weeks. Verizon ran out of stock earlier today, but it is hard to determine if this shows demand per carrier since AT&T is such a big legacy iPhone carrier and Apple obviously gave it a lot more stock than others.

Both big carriers have downsides: AT&T will not run FaceTime unless you buy a Mobile Share plan, while Verizon will run FaceTime on all of its iPhones—but new customers must sign up for a Mobile Share plan (no matter what). In addition, the CDMA version of the iPhone, which Verizon and Sprint both carry, will not support simultaneous talk and data. Speaking of Sprint, it is still advertising ship dates of Sept. 21.

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Which iPhone carrier has the fastest network in your area? AT&T, Verizon, & Sprint get accurate comparison by city

The argument over which carrier has the fastest network speed in any given location in the United States is still up for debate. Putting network speed comparisons aside, which are often not an accurate representation of speeds, you will receive in your specific area, a new app from startup SwayMarkets aims to provide a more realistic comparison.

The app, CarrierCompare, allows users to test the network speed of their current carrier against the two other major iPhone providers. CNNMoney went hands-on when the app released last month and just posted the user data it obtained that compares major iPhone carriers in multiple locations.

Analyzing user-generated data from Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, these were the results:

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The best way to unlock your AT&T iPhone may be through Tim Cook’s office

When 9to5Mac brought you the story about Tim Cook convincing AT&T to unlock an iPhone on a customer’s behalf, we knew it would cause a bit of controversy because of AT&T’s questionable unlocking policies. Confusion among consumers regarding inconsistent policies for unlocking iPhones that have finished contractual obligations is nothing new. As witnessed in our original story, the carriers often make special exceptions for some customers while redirecting others to Apple. In many cases, they simply flat-out refuse to unlock iPhones.

It is not clear if AT&T is getting ready for a full-fledged policy change, but it looks like your best shot at getting an iPhone unlocked is by emailing Apple’s chief Tim Cook. A significant number of readers reached out to us since our original story that confirmed AT&T is continuing to unlock iPhones at the request of Cook’s office.
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Analyst: AT&T & Sprint selling more iPhones than all other smartphones combined

While noting its March numbers indicate continued growth for the iPhone’s marketshare, Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley (via AllThingsD) said the iPhone is currently outselling “all other smartphones” at both AT&T and Sprint together. He also said Verizon is selling roughly as many iPhones as all Android phones combined:

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Best Buy selling almost as many iPhones as Apple… with four times as many stores

A new report from AllThingsD citied a study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners that gives a breakdown of iPhone percentages sold through each retailer, including Apple and the carriers. The survey targeted iPhone buyers over a three-month period from December 2011 to February 2012 and found approximately 76 percent of iPhones were sold through brick-and-mortar stores. The other 24 percent of iPhones were purchased online. Those numbers obviously shift with a high number of preorders during product launches. The report noted the iPhone 4S’ s launch saw 67 percent sales conducted online, while only 33 percent were in-store.

The full breakdown for each retailer (in the United States) not surprisingly shows the carriers clearly dominate iPhone sales: AT&T captured 32 percent, Verizon came in at 30 percent, and Sprint with 7 percent. AllThingsD said Best Buy came out on top among retailers—other than Apple and the carriers—with 13 percent of sales compared to Apple’s 15 percent. Reports are quick to mention Best Buy is selling almost as many iPhones as Apple, but it is worth noting Best Buy has four times as many stores…

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iPad 2 & iPod touch up to $50 off, Target offering $25 off iPhones on contract

According to an in-store iPhone advertisement in at least one Target location in Orlando, the store is offering $25 off the 8GB iPhone 4 and both the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4S models until the end of the month. A tipster sent the image above showing the deal is offered for upgrades or on a new two-year contract available through AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint depending on your location.

(Thanks L. Nielsen!)

We are also noticing some of the best prices ever on iPad 2s. When Apple dropped the price of the iPad 2 by $100 (now starting at $399) after the introduction of the new iPad, retailers immediately started slashing prices even further on the last-generation device. We already saw the 16GB entry-level iPad 2 go for as low as $360, and today 9to5Toys pointed us to a 32GB model in white or black for $449 from Go4Computers through eBay Daily Deal. That deal includes free shipping and no tax (outside Florida), and the same goes for the 8GB iPod touch, which is usually $199 but now goes for $169.

If you live close enough to swing by a local Micro Center, it is currently offering the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2 for $359.99.
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Sprint CEO: iPhone users are more loyal, use less data

Reports from the Wall Street Journal last October revealed Sprint’s Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse convinced the company’s board to take on a staggering commitment of approximately $20 billion to purchase 30.5 million iPhones over four years. At the time, Hesse said Sprint “would likely lose money on the deal until 2014. ″ He also claimed not having the iPhone was “the No. 1 reason customers leave or switch.” In an interview with Mobile World Live (via BGR), Hesse defended the decision and claimed, among other things, that iPhone users are “more profitable than the average smartphone customer.”

 Subsidies are heavy for the iPhone. This is the reason why a high percentage of new customers is important… But iPhone customers have a lower level of churn and they actually use less data on average than a high-end 4G Android device. So from a cost point of view and a customer lifetime value perspective. They’re more profitable than the average smartphone customer.”

Hesse went on to claim that Sprint was “pulling a lot of customers” from AT&T and Verizon during the fourth quarter by noting four out of every 10 iPhones the carrier sold were new customers. According to Hesse, that is around double the rate of the other carriers.
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Rumors: Verizon leak hints at shared data plans; Sprint plans to offer TEP coverage for iPhone

Verizon is set to announce shared family data plans for smartphone and tablet users.

PhoneArena obtained a leaked screenshot (above) that indicated Verizon plans to launch its shared family data plans soon. The service will allow customers to pay one data fee for the entire family and all their devices.

As seen in the screenshot, family data usage is calculable for e-mail, web surfing, and other data tasks extending to 30 GB and beyond. Pricing and other details are not revealed in the leak, but it seems like Verizon is just weeks away from debuting the new system. Now let’s hope fair rates launch with the carrier’s upcoming strategy.

In related carrier news, Sprint plans to offer its Total Equipment Protection coverage for the iPhone.

More information is available below.

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40 percent of Sprint’s 1.8M iPhone sales last quarter were to new customers

United States carrier Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless telecommunications network, announced today holiday quarter earnings containing a couple interesting tidbits related to Apple’s iPhone, which helped bring in most of its new customers. Sprint reportedly ponied up $20 billion to land Apple’s iconic smartphone last October, calling the handset launch in today’s statement “successful.”

Forty percent of Sprint’s 1.8 million iPhone sales in the fourth quarter were to new customers. 

This means some 720,000 Sprint iPhones went into the hands of new customers—once again highlighting Apple device’s proven ability to attract new consumers. Sprint only added 539,000 net additions to the postpaid base, so it would likely have lost around 200,000 customers without the iPhone in its lineup.

According to Sprint’s internal estimates, high costs associated with subsidizing the iPhone —combined with the impact of iPhone and Network Vision costs— are to blame for wider than expected short term loss, which reached an astounding $1.3 billion in Q4 2011 and $2.9 billion for 2011. These factors also reduced fourth-quarter adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) of $842 million by approximately $684 million.

Reuters reported in October 2011 that Sprint paid about 40 percent higher subsidy to Apple than the industry average, amounting to $200 more per device.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has some nice words for Apple’s phone:

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