T-Mobile’s $99 GALAXY S 4 might sound good, but is it cheapest?

March 28, 2013
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So now that Samsung's officially unveiled their new flagship GALAXY S 4 smartphone, the question is where should you get one? This week T-Mobile announced their new strategy moving forward along with their "UNcarrier" plans for mobile users, so we figured a quick AT&T comparison was in order. AT&T's GALAXY S 4 goes up for pre-order in April for $249, while T-Mobile is asking just $99 - so who's cheaper in the long run? Read on to find out.

Now all of this will be subjective based on the users needs and requirements from a mobile carrier, but based on raw numbers and simple math we have a quick conclusion. T-Mobile is the clear choice! Between no contracts, lower unlimited everything plans, and just $99 down you'll end up saving over $600 vs choosing AT&T for the next 2 years. Actually around $630 from my terrible math calculations.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 11.06.43 AM

Above you'll see AT&T's Share Everything plan. You'll be paying $249 for the GALAXY S 4 as long as you sign a 2-year contract, then paying $110 a month for the next 24 months. Add that up and it comes out to roughly $2,889 over the course of 2 years and the price of the phone. That's for their unlimited talk/text and only 4GB of data.

Now for the new T-Mobile. For more details on T-Mobile's system moving forward check out this post. Their new UNcarrier plans offer unlimited talk/text and even unlimited data for as low as $70 per month. Compare that to AT&T's share everything plan with unlimited talk/text and only 4GB we showed above, you'll be forking over $40 more per month. That certainly adds up over the course of 2 years.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 11.16.13 AM

T-Mobile's new system you'll be paying $99 for the GALAXY S 4 and with no carrier contract. However, you'll be paying $20 a month for the next 2 years to pay off that phone. So it's like a contract, although you can leave whenever so long as you pay the phone off. $20 for 24 months, plus the $99 original cost and you're at $579. Then paying only $70 per month for unlimited everything for 2 years - and T-Mobile's the clear winner here. At least when it comes to the price.

Final Verdict
• AT&T final price after 2 years: $2,889
• T-Mobile final price after 2 years: $2,259
• Saving: $630

There is a lot more to this than just what we see here of course, not to mention these rates and options are likely to change - as they always do. This also only compares to AT&T, and not the other carriers. Another thing worth mentioning is T-Mobile's 4G LTE network has just been turned on, and probably won't be readily available like AT&T for another 4-6 months at best. That being said, their 4G HSPA+ is plenty fast and reliable. Obviously this all comes down to carrier of choice and such, but we figured you'd all like a quick and simple breakdown.

So come April will you be getting the GALAXY S 4? Or maybe go with the HTC One. And if so, what carrier will you be choosing?

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  • UncleFan

    T-Mobile is only cheapest if you must have unlimited voice. AT&T is cheapest if you don’t mind a 450 minute voice bucket and don’t care about SMS. T-Mobile forces you onto an unlimited voice plan!

    Also, the $99 upfront price for the GS4 is ONLY for people with GOOD CREDIT. Customers are already reporting that T-Mobile stores are quoting them prices as high as *$400* for financed smartphones after running their credit. T-Mobile used to be very lenient about poor credit – not anymore!

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      Who doesn’t text these days? I’m just saying. Even AT&T’s 450 minute plan with unlimited text and 2GB of data is expensive.

      And I’d be interested to hear more about T-Mobile and the credit reporting. I know some friends with awful credit and bankruptcy have done it no problem. It’s not car, it’s a $500 phone.

      • UncleFan

        “Who doesn’t text these days?”

        Anybody who uses Google Voice? I’ve been texting this way for years, and it doesn’t require a texting plan. Google Voice integration is one of the best things about Android :)

      • hurrpancakes

        Except for the MMS thing

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        That, and the general public all text. Yes a lot of people use Google Voice, but millions and millions don’t.

      • randyfromreno

        I do not Text from my phone and have Text Messages blocked. If I do Text I do it from my computer to the person’s phone.

    • Gilbert Gonzalez

      I’m willing to bet if you had bad credit on T-Mobile than you’ll have bad credit on AT&T and will need to throw down a deposit, thus further increasing the total price difference over the two years. Plus if you put 400 down, then your monthly payment will be like under 10 bucks. So it works out the same either way.

      Lets face it, if you have bad credit…that’s for a reason. You can’t screw up and then expect to get all the “0%” rates that someone who hasn’t screwed up gets.

      I personally like the path T-Mobile is going, CHOICE!

      • UncleFan

        Everything you’ve said is true, but there is something else to consider: for the first time, many customers who would have naturally chosen T-Mobile because they didn’t want to pay a big deposit at AT&T or Verizon are now going to have to make a difficult choice between two evils. Which is worse? A deposit you will get back someday or a high upfront cost for the phone that is gone forever?

      • Gilbert Gonzalez

        That’s a good point. You could also argue that even with the deposit returned, it still cheaper in the long run with T-Mo.

        I guess at the end, its difficult to take a specific scenario and apply it to the masses. Generally speaking 99 should be the cost of the phone upfront, but there are difference scenarios for everyone i suppose.

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        how is the phone gone forever?

      • UncleFan

        I mean the money is gone, not the phone. I’ve paid $500 for phones that were barely worth $100 on ebay a year later. The only phone that holds some value is the iPhone, at least until the next model comes out.

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        Ahh. Well that’s a problem with that specific device on all carriers, but I see your point. The GS3 is holding up well though

  • mikeGsays

    AT&T S4 coming my way soon…. there’s no reason to save $630 over 2 years when you’re getting half the bandwidth for voice and lackluster data rates for the foreseeable future, but then again, you get what you pay for as with everything

  • http://twitter.com/Geek_News Geek_News

    How would this compare to a shared plan with a couple of phones? I see TMO is $120/mo for two phones but what would AT&T be? Considering most of my data usage is via WiFi I’m always looking for the cheapest option, nad that is not necessarily the cheapest dollar for dollar option.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Anybody with half a brain will pick Tmobile. Their network is better and with LTE backhauled to Hspa Plus 42 network At@t can only wish they had something better than tmobile. If you want better deals unlimited data and the chance to purchase 2 devices a year you better go with tmobile. At@t offers nothing of any significance and have poor data plans as well as monthly bills that are uncontrolled every month. We won’t even get into the carriers inability to give proper consistent updates to handsets. Like it or not tmobile is the place to be period. Those other guys are old dinasours Verizon and At@t the overrated and overpriced carriers for poor services.

    • squiddy20

      If by “better” you mean less coverage than even Sprint (let alone Verizon or AT&T), then sure, it’s “better”. Go 20 miles outside of most major metropolitan areas, and coverage drops dramatically. T-Mobile’s own coverage/signal maps depict as much.

  • titanium_man

    I have T mobile pre paid 30 bucks plan, and I use google voice for making unlimited calls, with my free text and 5gig 4g, so Im saving over $2000 every 2 years vs att contracts, Im still using a galaxy nexus which is not as nice as the galaxy 4 but is still a great phone.