Pay T-Mobile ETF to go to AT&T or buy an unlocked iPhone and stay?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by tomjonesrocks, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. tomjonesrocks macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    I was just about to cancel my T-Mobile Service that I have 7 months left on (have been with 17 months) to get a iPhone 3GS -- but have read a lot of complaints about AT&T's rates and service. Have also read a lot of times 3GS speeds are not that high on AT&T's overloaded network and that you're often essentially paying extra for nothing.

    What is a going rate on an unlocked 16GB Iphone and how are they obtained? Am not really familiar with the unlocking thing--but want to be sure I research all my options thoroughly before moving over. Also am kind of unclear on what T-Mobile's rate plan would be if I was on an iPhone.

    Have just had it dealing with these 2nd-best phones and want to move over to iPhone one way or the other.

    Advice appreciated--Thanks!
  2. crpercodani macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2009
    A 3G wouldn't be that much, and most of the ones on ebay are unlocked already or you can just jailbreak then unlock it yourself for free. I don't know what they go for prolly 350-450 but you can just take a look for yourself and see. It would be cheaper on tmobile but you need to find out what plan you would need, maybe the G1 plan? 35 for unlim data+text then 40 for the 300min myfave plan is 65 before tax where att is 40/450mins+30 data+20unlim text.
  3. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    You'll pay less for your service on T-Mo but more for the you'll lose any warranty or software support.

    On the other hand, AT&T on a monthly basis is probably more expensive.

    So it's probably a wash over 2 years, or a relatively minimal difference. However, just figure out if you can troubleshoot yourself relatively easily, or if you feel you are going to rely heavily on Apple's official support.

    IMHO, if you're willing to role the dice on hardware stuff, you can easily troubleshoot the software yourself. But everyone is different.
  4. chstr macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2009
  5. tomjonesrocks thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    I guess one thing I'd really like about AT&T is that I could get myself the 32GB version--it would be worth any extra money to me as far as device cost goes. Also we'd save 15% off of our bill because my wife works for a qualifying company.

    Seems like their plans really gouge you though and there's no shortage of service quality complaints out there.
  6. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Service complaints are typically geographic specific. If you're in NYC or SF, I'd say "don't even bother".

    Where I'm at, AT&T has more 3G coverage than T-Mobile does, and it's consistently faster than my work-provided Verizon "3G" BlackBerry. To me (I use a lot of data), that makes the decision easier to make.

    You're definitely right about the price. T-Mobile and Sprint are the two discount carriers. AT&T and Verizon don't come close to matching their rates.
  7. Jhanson09 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2009
    kansas city, mo
    I'm not a hundred percent sure but if you unlock an iphone i don't believe it will work on tmobile 3g, different frequencies? not a 100 percent sure about it though.
  8. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    You are correct. Different 3G frequencies. Calls work work on GSM and data will work over the slower EDGE (or GPRS).
  9. tomjonesrocks thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    T-Mobile is doing what it can to bow out of the discount carrier market from what I can tell. Rates are creeping up--they're not as cheap as they used to be it seems...they've quietly raised rates in 3 different areas of my contract (text-message rates, overage charges, and now $1.50/mo for paper bills) in the 17 months I've been with them and none of those would get me out of my ETF...but I digress.

    The primary "pro" about not going over to AT&T I guess is just not getting locked again in a 2-year contract. I guess when I think about it though, if it's prorated, that's probably not going to have the sting it used to.
  10. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I love these quotes. How do you know he won't be happy? I am very happy with at&t.

    The the OP, I read that you won't get 3G on T-Mobile or the visual voicemail also.
    I can't say if you should do this. How is the coverage are for at&t? If you have 7 months, that's not that bad. I know I couldn't wait, but that's me.
  11. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    If you can wait the 7 months for the contract to finish, it'd only be a bit more until the next model iPhone is out!! :)
  12. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    That comment is BS. I am with AT&T (obviously) and their service is great with me (as in NO dropped calls and excellent 3G data + voice)
  13. Knolly macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2007
    Protip: If you know someone with an AT&T phone and you have a hardware issue, pop in their SIM and restore it (if you can). I have a non-iPhone AT&T account with an iPhone and haven't had difficulty getting warranty service in the past, so whether or not your friend has an iPhone is irrelevant.

    My thoughts though: AT&T has a 30 day, no obligation trial period. Here's your best strategy:

    Get a 3GS with a NEW phone number. Try it out in all of the areas that service is critical to you and see how it goes.

    If service is good:
    You can call AT&T and have your old number transferred over without getting a new SIM card. I didn't know this was possible until recently, but my roommate and his father both had this happen without hassle, so it most definitely is possible.

    If service sucks the big one:
    OPTIMAL SITUATION: The 3GS you got is either 3.0 or 3.0.1. If this is the case, do NOT update to 3.1, and you can unlock it fairly easily with guides online. Wait until the 31st day of your contract and call AT&T and cancel it. This is THE CHEAPEST WAY to get a 3GS without a contract. It'll cost you:
    $175 (for cancellation) + about $50 or so for one month of service + $200/300 for the device.

    NOT SO OPTIMAL SITUATION: The phone has 3.1. If this is the case, it cannot be unlocked. It might be worth it to post an ad in the Marketplace section to trade a 3.1 + a little cash for a 3.0 or something, and then you can proceed with the cancel on the 31st day strategy, but otherwise eBay or some other site is going to be your best bet for an unlocked 3GS. If you really wanted to go for the gusto, you could get an officially unlocked 3GS and never have to worry about accidentally messing up hacks, etc, but last I checked, they ran about $700ish at minimum.

    BAM. I just wrote a freaking novel. Got carried away there. Hope that helps though.
  14. TheSpaz macrumors 604


    Jun 20, 2005
    I switched from AT&T iPhone to AT&T go-phone. Now I use my go-phone SIM card in my iPhone and it works perfectly. I too hate AT&T's expensive plans so I did something about it.

    I have to to receive my ETF bill though… hmm.
  15. SpaceKitty macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2008
    Fort Collins Colorado
    Lots of people are happy. We are finally able to get a full five bars of 3G signal anywhere in our house including in the basement. This started last week. I am very pleased with AT&T lately! :)
  16. alansaysstop macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2009
    im in the detroit area and love my at&t service. haven't had a single problem. not even dropped calls really. i get full 3G everywhere. including my basement and my walk in cooler at work. my tmobile phones always lost service in both.

    like others said, if you want to take advantage of the 3G network, youll have to switch. Side note, my friend has two G1's on his account and is only 10 dollars cheaper than my at&t bill with two iPhones. so make sure you research all options including calling at&t and getting a price on what youll pay with the discount and all the features added that you're going to need.
  17. Tilt macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2008
    OP My story is similar to yours.

    I was with T-mobile for 7 years with a total of 5 family lines. The services was so so and kept waiting for the coverage to improve. I just lived with their coverage since at least 95% of my call would work and I knew where the phone had problems connecting.

    Then my wife moved into another building at work and just before that we upgraded our account to unlimited text still no data using black berry phones (pearl flip). Though texting was great I could not get a message or a phone call to here with t-mobile's service. Fed up I called t-mobile and registered my complaint.

    A couple weeks later t-mobile announced the fee for the paper copy bills and on another forum told of users that the overage fees are being raised for all accounts. I called back and complained about this and my poor service wanting to get out of my contract now but no luck with the ETF I had 18 months left on two lines (with the black berries).

    I filed a BBB report against the company stating my problems with the service and the new fees and a week later got a call from a corporate CSR notifying me that I can get out of all my contracts without paying any ETFs.

    Bottom line you need to research your area for connectivity I know I did. Every family member has better reception now on At&t. I have two that live in florida.

    The At&t plan will definately cost more but I've already made my mind up on that decision. I also got 2 referbished 3g 16 gig Iphones for $99 a piece and I'm more than happy with the service thus far. I had a ipod touch before this so I had a taste of what apple brings to the table. Now with the data plan these iphones rock. I wonder how long my honeymoon will last though.

    Currently 2 phones with unlimited text and data is about $159 before my company discount which is considerably more than t-mobile. difference being $30 data for each line.

    Another nice thing about At&t is on t-mobile even though I had 1000 anytime minutes and only 700 on At&t the At&t minutes are roll over minutes.

    Cheers and good luck on your quest.
  18. tomjonesrocks thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    I wish my BBB complaint had had the same success...corporate only agreed to reduce my ETF from $200 per line to $100 per line and not waive them altogether--yay. A lot of people got out of their ETFs with those fee increases but I wasn't one of them.
  19. TMar macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2008
    Yeah, no one has ever been happy with AT&T.:rolleyes:
  20. Tilt macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2008
    If you only have a year left I think they reduce it that much anyways :rolleyes:
  21. jbplaya macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2009
    AT&T is trash. If you want an iPhone so bad, get it jailbroken and on T-mobile. I actually liked my 3g better than my fidgety 3gs. The differences are miniscule but the price difference is great on the open market. I'll be getting rid of my 3g and my 3gs when the new hero comes out this weekend. Pm me if you live in Houston.
  22. SpaceKitty macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2008
    Fort Collins Colorado
    Corrected that for you. It may be trash for you but not for everyone.
  23. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    Thanks, I agree with you. I have said this a few times, no cell phone provider will ever work from coast to coast 100%. What might work for 1 person may not work for another. I am happy with at&t, so far so good.

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