T-mobile Test Drive

I recently found out about T-Mobile’s program, test drive. This program allows you to use an iPhone 5S, which they provide, for a week on their network. All you have to do is provide a credit card. They will put a hold on the card for the amount of $700 plus tax. After a week, return the phone to the nearest retail store and the hold is cancelled. Make sure it’s a corporate owned store and not an authorized reseller. Also the phone must be in good condition upon return. They will charge you a minimum of $100 up to the original price of the phone.

I currently have Verizon and have been happy with the service. But recent events have made me want to look for another provider.

  • Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed more frequent buffering when streaming with Spotify. There have been reports of Verizon throttling connections to services like Netflix – so it isn’t far-fetched to consider them doing this to Spotify on their cellular service.
  • I cannot use Google Play edition phones on the Verizon network. The last phone that worked was the original Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
  • The monthly cost along with the bandwidth cap is starting to add up. I didn’t mind the price increase from my previous carrier (T-Mobile) as long as the data coverage is better, which it is. But after over a year of monthly cost increase, it’s adding up. To add, Verizon has a bandwidth cap, in our case it’s 4GB, which we easily can go over.

So I decided to check out T-Mobile. They provided a great service for us with the voice coverage but the data coverage was lacking. Which is why we switched to Verizon. Luckily they have the test drive program where we can access their network for a week and decided if it meets our needs. Here is the package I got in the mail.

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It’s a 32GB iPhone 5S space gray. It came with all the accessories, minus the Apple box. The $80 monthly access also includes an unlimited data plan. This is truly unlimited with no speed throttling after surpassing a specific amount of bandwidth. Their lower plans are considered “unlimited” at 5GB or less and once you reach that amount, you will get throttled to a lower speed. It’s an appealing package considering Verizon will charge you extra if you go over the cap.

So I played with my Verizon and T-Mobile iPhone 5S. I installed the Speed Test app and compared results. The 4G LTE areas for both providers are fast. I’ve gotten results as fast as 40Mbps down and 20Mbps up. They also have their areas of coverage and areas of limitations. The biggest difference is with T-Mobile, the phone just gives up and has no signal where as Verizon will continue to try and on many occasions able to connect or try its best to keep the connection alive – these are areas with the limited coverage.

It looks like T-Mobile is improving their coverage but has yet to win me back. I guess you have to pay a little bit more if you want better coverage. This is based on my usage and the areas I travel. I’m not implying that Verizon is the better provider for everyone. In my case, it is the better provider. T-Mobile’s test drive program is a great program and I wish more providers did this. I will try it again next year.

My iPhone 5S

I first had my taste of iOS back with the iPhone 3G with AT&T. The phone experience was great, but the service coverage was horrible. Unfortunately, that tainted my feelings towards iOS and ever since then I changed cell phone provider and used Android OS. Years later and a handful of frustrations, I decided to go back to iOS. I felt it was a good time being iOS 7 is releasing along with the iPhone 5S.

I’ve had the phone since release day (September 20, 2013) – been very busy with things so I couldn’t blog about it. Plus I wanted to spend a few days (weeks) before posting and get familiar with it. So, release day I waited in several lines. The first line I tried was a Verizon store near the house. I arrived before 8am but the staff informed me that they are only selling to new customers, upgrading customers, and add-on customers. Basically, those who will sign a contract. I didn’t want a new contract since I’m currently in one and would not qualify for an upgrade. Leaving upset, I tried another Verizon store.

To my surprise, this Verizon store didn’t care what your situation is. I told them I will be buying full retail, will they sell me one? They said yes. Apparently it was only that first location that was doing this. I called Verizon and complained. Hopefully someone got in trouble. So now I’m in line but it’s taking way too long and I had a meeting to attend. I decided to try my luck during my lunch break. This line wasn’t as bad as the Apple Store in the mall. The line wrapped around several stores – I’d say it was at least 2 blocks long with over 200 people outside and probably another 50 inside.

Lunch time came around. I tried Best Buy. Did you know that Best Buy’s retail price of the phone is $50 more than everyone else? Well, it didn’t matter as they were putting names down rather than lining up. So I got my name listed and went to get some food so I can eat while I waited.

At the same plaza, there was a Verizon store. I figured I’ll line up here and see which will come first – Best Buy or Verizon. Best Buy said they would text me when it was my turn. Almost 2.5 hours later, I finally got it. The only color available was the space grey. The silver was sold out as with many retailers and the Gold was never available. Only Apple had the Gold on release day. I didn’t care much for the color since I’ll be using a case anyway. So I went with the space grey 16GB. Here are some pics.

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After a few weeks of using iOS again, it felt great compared to Android. I’m finally back using a software that will get updates – unlike Android, unless you get the vanilla package (which is limited to GSM phones) or rooting it – which makes it even more unstable.

I’ll be posting about my experience soon.