Smartphone makers seem intent on finding out exactly how much money they can get away with charging for their flagship phones, with several models now topping the $1,000 mark. Traditionally, wireless carriers would let customers spread the cost over a period of 12 or 24 months. T-Mobile is taking things a step further, however, with a with new 36-month installment plan.
Being able to break up payments for a pricey smartphone over the course of three years can translate into a lower monthly phone bill. Buyers obviously aren't saving anything in the long run—a $1,000 smartphone is still $1,000, whether it's paid for right away, in a year, in two years, or even three years—but the smaller payments could also nudge customers in buying a more premium priced handset than they otherwise might have.
Full details are not yet available, though T-Mobile did suggest in its press release that the 36-month installment would be available on at least a spattering of Samsung and LG devices, including Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9, and LG's G7 ThinQ. More phones will also make the cut for an extended payment plan, which we expect will include Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, which start at 999 and $1,099, respectively.
T-Mobile's outspoken CEO John Legere used the opportunity to once again throw shade at the competition, as we've highlighted in bold below...
"Everyone knows we’ve got America’s fastest 4G LTE network and now we’ve got some of the best deals of the year on new smartphones. We’re not messing around,"Legere said. "Forty dollars a month will only get you data on Dumb and Dumber’s congested networks. At T-Mobile, $40 a month will get you a hot new smartphone AND unlimited, so you can unleash everything that new phone is capable of doing!"
By T-Mobile's month, this new installment plan means customers could potentially pay as little as $10 per month for a new phone, at least when trading in their current handset. Combined with a $30 per month T-Mobile Essentials plan, customers could be looking at a reasonable $40 per month charge (per line) for a new phone and unlimited data.
That's dependent on the specific handset though, as well as the trade in value of the customer's current phone. It also essentially means being locked into T-Mobile's service for three years. So, there are plenty of caveats.
In any event, the new installment option kicks off this Friday, October 19.