T-Mobile release rip-off iPhone 4 tariffs. Our verdict? Stay clear; cheaper deals elsewhere

July 8th, 2010

T-Mobile are the final network to reveal their iPhone tariffs and it’s disappointment all round as they’ve come out with some of the most expensive tariffs on the market.

We were left scratching our heads this morning as T-Mobile released details of the iPhone tariffs. Despite being the final network to release details of their iPhone tariffs, they’ve announced some of the priciest tariffs out there. Our key findings are:

  • T-Mobile’s iPhone tariffs are similar to those offered by O2, Orange and Vodafone in terms of the monthly cost and the number of minutes offered (and without the unlimited texts). However, T-Mobile typically charges an extra £40 or £50 for the iPhone upfront.
  • T-Mobile only offers 500MB internet per month (slightly more on tariffs of £45/month or more). This is despite the fact they offer a standard fair usage of 1GB on most of their other smartphones and 3GB for their Android phones. Three, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile all provide 1GB/month as standard on their iPhone tariffs.
  • T-Mobile’s network is not a unique selling point. They share their 3G network with Three, who also provide the iPhone. If T-Mobile’s 3G network is your kind of thing, grab a tariff from Three instead.

We’ve added their 6 tariffs to our iPhone tariff listing.

With these iPhone tariffs, we doubt that T-Mobile are going to gain many customers from other networks. Instead, it looks like these tariffs are aimed at retaining existing T-Mobile customers who want to upgrade to the iPhone 4 but don’t take the time to shop around elsewhere. Orange and T-Mobile are now both owned by the same parent company “Everything Everywhere” and will eventually share networks, I suspect the strategic decision has been made for Orange to attract the new customers.

T-Mobile’s iPhone Tariffs

T-Mobile have 6 iPhone tariffs. On the whole, we’ve found that you can find a better deal almost anywhere else. Below we’ve listed  each T-Mobile tariff and the cheapest alternative according to the iPhone price comparison tool. The cheapest alternative tariff usually provides a larger airtime allowance as well as costing less over the contract period.

The following price comparisons are for the 16GB iPhone 4.

Please note that Three’s iPhone 4 tariffs will be available to order from the end of July only.

Cheapest Alternative Cost Saving of Alternative
100 minutes, 100 texts, 500MB

Upfront cost: £259

Monthly cost: £25/month

Total cost of ownership: £859

Three – 500 minutes, 5000 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £99

Monthly cost: £30/month

Total cost of ownership: £819

300 minutes, 300 texts, 500MB

Upfront cost: £219

Monthly cost: £30/month

Total cost of ownership: £939

Three – 500 minutes, 5000 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £99

Monthly cost: £30/month

Total cost of ownership: £819

600 minutes, 500 texts, 500MB

Upfront cost: £189

Monthly cost: £35/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,029

Three – 900 minutes, 5000 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £99

Monthly cost: £35/month

Total cost of ownership: £939

900 minutes, 500 texts, 500MB

Upfront cost: £129

Monthly cost: £40/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,089

Three – 900 minutes, 5000 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £99

Monthly cost: £35/month

Total cost of ownership: £939

1200 minutes, 500 texts, 750MB

Upfront cost: £59

Monthly cost: £45/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,139

Three – 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £169

Monthly cost: £35/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,009

3000 minutes, 500 texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: Free

Monthly cost: £60/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,440

Tesco – Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB

Upfront cost: £19

Monthly cost: £45/month

Total cost of ownership: £1,099


It’s worth noting that the T-Mobile contracts come with a free flexible booster (such as unlimited texts). However, even after accounting for this, the T-Mobile deals still don’t look hugely competitive against Three’s tariffs which offer 5000 as standard.

Do T-Mobile or Three have a better 3G network?

T-Mobile and Three share their 3G networks so there should be no difference at all. Tesco Mobile use O2’s network.

Are T-Mobile offering cheaper retention deals for existing customers?

If you’re an existing T-Mobile customer, it’s always worth calling up and asking them if they can match the deal provided by the cheapest alternative here. However, some estimates say that T-Mobile have a profit margin of £56 on each iPhone they sell so don’t hold your breath. Do drop us a comment below and let us know whether you have any luck though.

I’m an existing T-Mobile customer. Can I keep my number if I switch network?

Yes. You need to ask T-Mobile for a PAC code and you need to provide this to your new network. Your new network will handle the process of porting your phone number.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 8 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Janet said:

    Tmobile does have the best network for internet though, by a long mile. They only share infrastrucure with Three, not network.

  2. Drew said:

    Hello Ken,

    Actually for Tesco mobile the cost is £229 + (12 x 35) + (12 x 20) because in the second year the line rental drops to £20, mean that the total cost of ownership is only £889

    I am a T-mobile customer and Very very disappointed that I was offered the same deal as a new customer. I am planning to switch to Tesco.
    Happy shopping,

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:


      Thanks for your message Drew. Does this calculation involve switching down to a £20/mo. SIM-only tariff?


  3. Mudal said:

    Tesco has the best deal with the total ownership being close to £650? ill give you that it is £229 for the handset but its only 12 month!! im considering it big time, but most people i know are on tmobile. aggh!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hey Mudal,

      The Tesco Contract (750mins, unltd txt) does have a lower total cost of ownership but the total cost of ownership you state is for 12 months and not 24 months. Over 24 months, the TCO becomes £1,069 which is pricier than Three. The Three tariff with 900 mins, 5000 texts which works out as a TCO of £939 – £130 cheaper than Tesco. Of course, you could go for the 12 month Tesco deal and then switch to a SIM only contract after 12 months – this would be much more competitive.

      Hope this helps


  4. Ben said:

    Typical T-Mobile Rip Off!!! T-Mobile are conmen. I'm with Three and they are the best network I've dealt with so far and also a lot cheaper so yes there is a difference a considerably large one at that.

    1. Sean replied:

      LOL you have no idea what your talking about. Im with t-mobile on a 30day sim contract right now and its better than all the others… You didn't even mention the felxible boosters! unlimited internet, abroad calls, national calls, or texts for free on every t-mobile contract; You just chose which one you want and its on your contract for no extra charge, not to mention the fact that you can always change what booster you get. Also you say that three get the same signal but everyone I know on three doesn't get signal anywhere, not even in the shops. Orange also gets very limited signal and to be honest going with tesco just makes you sound cheap. Also 500MB is still alot of data usage and all networks are putting a limit on mobile internet in october.

      All in all, T-Mobile are actually offering a better deal because they tend to reward loyal customers as well.

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Thanks for the comment Sean 🙂 I am actually a T-Mobile customer myself! Even including the flexible booster in the calculation (unltd txts as this is the most mainstream option), T-Mobile still comes in much more expensive than other networks. I agree though… there are some other flexible boosters such as European calls… if you use a lot of those than T-Mobile could be more competitive for you.

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