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Thread: Any advantage to T-Mobile Branded Phone?

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    Question Any advantage to T-Mobile Branded Phone?

    I have been a T-Mobile customer for about 15 years. All of my previous phones (last one bought 2013, Samsung Galaxy S4) were subsidized by T-Mobile, so were T-Mobile branded phones.

    My S4 is giving me trouble now, so looking at getting a new phone. Of course, no such thing as carrier subsidy.

    Of course, one can still get a T-Mobile branded phone from T-Mobile, but one must pay full price for it. They have their payment plans, but I am not interested in that. I will pay the phone in full on purchase. The phone choice through T-Mo is rather limited, especially for upgrades. (I notice there is more choice for new customers than for upgrades. I wonder why?)

    Therefore, I am considering buying an unlocked phone elsewhere, that will work on T-Mo, but not particularly T-Mo branded. I am wondering--is there any disadvantage now to doing that.

    I recall at one time T-Mo used a different frequency spectrum for its high speed internet than ATT. Is that still the case? Would one not be able to connect as well or as fast to the internet wtih a non-TMO phone?

    I have actually never used the w-fi calling feature in my T-Mo Galaxy S4. But if I ever did want to use it, is it not available in non-TMo phones? Or can one install an app to use that feature?

    Similarly with the "Hotspot" feature of my T-Mo phone (which I do use), to use the phone to connect a laptop to the Internet, when other connections are not available, either through w-fi or USB. Can that be done with a non-TMo phone?

    Any other advantages or disadvantages of getting a phone not specifically made for T-Mobile USA?

    Thank you in advance for your input.

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    What phone are you wanting that T-mobile doesn't offer? A Motorola? Nexus? For the most part, T- mobile offers every phone that AT&T offers and most phones that VZW and Sprint offer. Motorola is the only obvious exception I can think of.

    Anyway, the main disadvantage to buying a non T-mobile phone is lack of band 12 support. I think you can still connect to band 12 for data, but not voice unless the MFG had it certified and not all unlocked phones have that certification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maiki View Post
    The phone choice through T-Mo is rather limited, especially for upgrades. (I notice there is more choice for new customers than for upgrades. I wonder why?)
    I don't understand this statement. Existing customers can buy any phone they sell, just like new customers. So I don't know why you're saying the choice is "limited".

    I am wondering--is there any disadvantage now to doing that.
    Yes, as 2400zr stated the phone will likely not be able to use LTE Band 12 for voice calling. (Unless you buy an unlocked iPhone or certain unlocked Nexus phones.)

    I recall at one time T-Mo used a different frequency spectrum for its high speed internet than ATT. Is that still the case? Would one not be able to connect as well or as fast to the internet wtih a non-TMO phone?
    You're referring to 3G band IV. Most unlocked phones don't have that band whereas, most T-Mobile phones still have it. Even though T-Mobile has stopped using band IV for 3G in many areas, it is still used by them in some places.

    I have actually never used the w-fi calling feature in my T-Mo Galaxy S4. But if I ever did want to use it, is it not available in non-TMo phones? Or can one install an app to use that feature?
    No, you can't install an app to use it. There are some apps that do voice calls over your data connection. But they are not integrated like the wifi calling that is built into the T-Mobile phones.

    Similarly with the "Hotspot" feature of my T-Mo phone (which I do use), to use the phone to connect a laptop to the Internet, when other connections are not available, either through w-fi or USB. Can that be done with a non-TMo phone?
    Generally speaking, yes that is available.

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    Thanks for the replies. Regarding the bandwidth only usable on T-Mo phones, it sounds like these days no difference for data, only on voice calls. Is that correct? And would that actually make a difference in the real world, the additional voice spectrum available on T-Mo phones?

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    Quote Originally Posted by maiki View Post
    Thanks for the replies. Regarding the bandwidth only usable on T-Mo phones, it sounds like these days no difference for data, only on voice calls. Is that correct? And would that actually make a difference in the real world, the additional voice spectrum available on T-Mo phones?
    The issue w.r.t. Band 12 is band 12 requires VoLTE and phones that are not certified or lack VoLTE, will not be able to use VoLTE on that band, so no voice. The lack of band 12 makes a difference if you have band 12 deployed in your area. How much of a difference will be YMMV.

    This will tell you if a phone will work.

    http://willmyphonework.net

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    The Band 12 issue isn't necessarily true on unlocked phones, it just depends on if the manufacturer has gotten the phones VoLTE certified. This list shows the phones that have Band 12 enabled for T-Mobile, as well as the phones that do not support VoLTE. It shows most of the Motorola phones, NextBit Robin, OnePlus 3, as well as the Nexus phones, on the list as having Band 12 and VoLTE currently.

    The other issue is that some phones may not have T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling, though most that offer VoLTE should have WiFi calling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2400zr View Post
    This will tell you if a phone will work.

    http://willmyphonework.net
    My experience with that has been that it will show if a phone has some compatibility. It doesn't show if the phone is fully compatible on all bands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    My experience with that has been that it will show if a phone has some compatibility. It doesn't show if the phone is fully compatible on all bands.
    I know, but OP won't tell us what phone they want that T-mobile doesn't carry. T-mobile bands are listed on WiKi, so that's the easy part. Finding the bands for a particular model is more difficult, so that site will give some basic information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maiki View Post
    Thanks for the replies. Regarding the bandwidth only usable on T-Mo phones, it sounds like these days no difference for data, only on voice calls. Is that correct? And would that actually make a difference in the real world, the additional voice spectrum available on T-Mo phones?
    LTE Band 12 is not found on all unbranded phones. So that would affect data as well as voice. It's just if an unbranded phone has band 12 LTE in the specs, that doesn't guarantee you can use it for voice unless it also is compatible with T-Mobile's voice over LTE protocol.

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    Thanks all, for the info.

    Jet1000, to see what I mean about the same phones for new customers area not all available for existing customers, do the following:

    Go to the T-Mobile web site, and without signing in, look at their list of phones.

    Then sign-in to "My T-Mobile", and click the choice to upgrade your phone. You will not see all the same phones listed as before you signed in. For example, the lower cost Samsung phones On5 and J7 that are available before signing in, are not any more after you sign on and click upgrade my phone. At least that was my experience.

    In any case, there are many unlocked GSM phones available elsewhere not listed on the T-Mobile site at all, therefore I wondered whether any advantage these days (since there is no subsidy any more) to get a phone through T-Mo, other than the payment plan?
    Last edited by maiki; 07-17-2016 at 05:54 PM.

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    2400zr You wrote "OP won't tell us what phone they want that T-Mobile doesn't carry". I assume by OP you mean me, and the way you wrote that it sounds like I am withholding information.

    The fact is, I am just starting to look at phones, and I don't know which one yet that I want to buy. (I wrote a thread in another Howardforum about some features I am looking at, possible phones, etc. But I wanted to keep this one to the T-Mobile question, as it will be the first time I buy a phone not subsidized by T-Mobile. In any case, the choice of phones offered directly by T-Mobile is a far smaller choice than the field of unlocked GSM phones in general. So it is good to know about compatibility. (I would guess this is a question others have as well, T-Mo users up for buying a new phone, to know what will work well on the network, whether OK to buy other than from T-Mo, etc..)

    If you would like to see that other thread I started, discussing some of the features and price range I in particular am looking for in a phone, including some possible models I saw, it is at: http://www.howardforums.com/showthre...s-ZTE-others-)

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    One thing you need to do is be aware of the bands and air-interface standards a phone has. I see many reviews for phones developed for the European/Asian market where the reviewer goes on and on about camera, screen, games, feel of the case, etc but never mentions band compatibility. These are the most important specs a phone has and far too many people just take them for granted, often to their chagrin.

    One thing you get from a T-Mobile phone is assurance that it will work with T-Mobile's bands and WiFi Calling. But you have to be sure that a T-Mobile phone has all the necessary bands for international roaming. Depending on where you are going, some don't.
    Donald Newcomb

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    Thanks for the info mogelijk. Useful site.

    One phone I have considered (totally undecided though) is the ZTE Axon7. That site says the following for it:

    "ZTE Axon 7 A2017U (VoLTE supported planned. If you own this phone, please make an announcement as described below when it happens)"

    It sounds like the site is unsure about it, but some indication from the manufacturer that it will support it. Anyone here have any more info on that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by maiki View Post
    Thanks for the info mogelijk. Useful site.

    One phone I have considered (totally undecided though) is the ZTE Axon7. That site says the following for it:

    "ZTE Axon 7 A2017U (VoLTE supported planned. If you own this phone, please make an announcement as described below when it happens)"

    It sounds like the site is unsure about it, but some indication from the manufacturer that it will support it. Anyone here have any more info on that?
    The MFG says it supports T-mobile, so I would presume VoLTE will work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maiki View Post

    Jet1000, to see what I mean about the same phones for new customers area not all available for existing customers, do the following:

    Go to the T-Mobile web site, and without signing in, look at their list of phones.

    Then sign-in to "My T-Mobile", and click the choice to upgrade your phone. You will not see all the same phones listed as before you signed in. For example, the lower cost Samsung phones On5 and J7 that are available before signing in, are not any more after you sign on and click upgrade my phone.
    I didn't find that to be the case. I just tried that and I got the On5 and J7 to show up after I logged in. Keep in mind that the phone choices after you log in display on multiple pages. In my case it showed 8 different pages. You can click "See all on one page" and that will bring them up all at once.

    In any case, there are many unlocked GSM phones available elsewhere not listed on the T-Mobile site at all, therefore I wondered whether any advantage these days (since there is no subsidy any more) to get a phone through T-Mo, other than the payment plan?
    Right. Some unlocked phones don't even have all of T-Mobile's LTE bands as they are meant mainly for other countries.

    Here are the frequency band T-Mobile currently uses:

    2G: 1900
    3G (HSPA): 1900 and (1700 also known as band IV)
    4G (LTE): Band 2, 4, 12

    If a device has all of the bands, you should get the maximum available coverage. Check this against the specs of the phones you're considering.

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