Apr 08, 2021
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About this Deal
For all the hype that we’ve been hearing about 5G, it sure hasn’t had much real-world impact on most people’s lives. Of course, part of this is due to the pandemic and the increased time we’ve all spent at home.
Other big factors are that 5G phone options have been limited and expensive and that early 5G coverage has been limited and, in most cases, unimpressive. Additionally, we certainly haven’t seen any of the revolutionary applications that we were promised with 5G.
While no company can solve all of those problems at once, T-Mobile is certainly tackling a number of them with its latest Un-carrier announcement dubbed 5G For All. This new offer features several different facets, but the headline grabbers are free 5G phone upgrades and the country’s first widely available wireless broadband home internet service.
Of course, as with any of these kinds of promotions, it’s important to know the details of what’s involved. Thankfully, in this case, the details look pretty good. On the phone side, the company will take any existing smartphone (yes, even an old Nokia candy bar or Motorola flip phone – as long as it turns on) in exchange for a brand-new Samsung A32 5G, provided you sign up for 24 months of postpaid wireless service.
If you’re an iPhone fan, you can trade in an iPhone 11 and get a 5G-equipped iPhone 12 for free, older iPhones will get you an iPhone 12 for half price, and super old iPhones (say iPhone 5s?) qualify for 50% off an iPhone 12 mini. As with most carrier plans, you have to pay the sales tax upfront for any of these phones, and if you drop or change the service before the 2 years are up, you’ll get charged for some portion of the purchase price.
If you’ve been thinking about making the move to 5G, this could prove to be a good time to do it. The specs on the new Samsung A32 are surprisingly strong for a lower-cost phone – especially one you can get for free.
It features a 6.5” LCD display that runs at 90 Hz (instead of the typical 60 Hz), providing a much smoother scrolling and overall experience for all your streaming, browsing, and gaming applications. It also has four cameras, including a 48 megapixel main camera, 8 MP ultrawide, and a 13 MP front-facing camera that’s seamlessly built into the top of the main screen.
The phone is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 720 chip, which not only offers solid performance for this price range but also gives it some 5G capabilities that are uniquely suited to T-Mobile’s 5G network (a feature that even the significantly more expensive iPhone 12 doesn’t have). Specifically, the A32 supports a technology called carrier aggregation that allows the phone to essentially make multiple simultaneous connections over different frequencies to speed up its performance. Think of it like having an extra lane over which 5G data connections can travel. T-Mobile’s network is the first to turn this capability on for 5G, and Samsung’s A32 is one of the first phones to support it (Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S21 series also does). This combination should allow for some of the best 5G performance possible across the widest coverage areas.
In addition to the phone offers, the other big news from T-Mobile is their Home Internet service. Though Verizon’s 5G Home was technically first on the market, it’s only available in an extremely limited portion of a small group of cities. The new T-Mobile service, on the other hand, is expected to be available across 30 million US households at launch, including a large swath of rural America. This is an extremely important development, as many small towns across the country have suffered through abysmal or nearly nonexistent internet service – a fact that became painfully obvious through the pandemic.
T-Mobile’s Home Internet offering isn’t cheap at $60/month (although there are no equipment or installation fees), particularly for lower-income households that are more common in rural areas, but for that price, the speed of the service is pretty impressive.
Notably, the company said Home Internet – which does not require any long-term contract – should deliver average download speeds of about 100 Mbps (uploads are expected to be in the 10-25 Mbps range). These speeds are more than adequate for most applications – including video streaming.
Plus, a broadband solution based on 5G, instead of wired lines, offers a new degree of freedom and flexibility and frees consumers from the often painful process of dealing with providers. If you’re curious, T-Mobile has a map where you can check to see if the service is available in your area. The actual setup process sounds straightforward – the company sends you a router box (which also includes support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, by the way), you download an app to configure it, and you’re good to go. No antennas and no wires required.
Faster cellular service on our smartphones is something we’ve become accustomed to, but it’s nice to see T-Mobile helping make the process of jumping up to 5G much easier. The opportunity to turn wireless networks into a provider of broadband internet, however, is truly a game changer. This T-Mobile Home Internet service could prove to be extremely valuable, especially for households that have had limited options for internet service. Finally, it seems, the promise of 5G is starting to arrive.