All good things must come to an end, apparently — even if we didn’t know they were only temporary. Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA is increasing the cost of the initial down payment for the iPhone 5, and boosting the total price of the smartphone in the process.
Since T-Mobile’s iPhone launch on April 12, customers were able to pay $99.99 down and then fork over $20/month for two years — for a total of $579 — to complete the purchase of the smartphone.
But there was little or no indication that the $99.99 down was only a promotional price, which it now appears to be. The other models of the iPhone will also have the same $50 increase with the 32GB and 64GB models now requiring a $249 and $349 down payment on T-Mobile’s 24-month payment plan, which still require $20/month.
While customers will still pay less up front than on other carriers, T-Mobile’s new total 16GB iPhone price of $629 is only slightly cheaper than the $649 retail price of an unlocked iPhone.
This is all part of the company’s “Uncarrier” payment plan, which separates the cost of wireless service from the purchase of a phone — no longer subsidizing the cost of the device as part of the service plan. On the plan, customers can either pay the complete cost of the phone upfront, or make a down payment followed by monthly payments, which end when the phone is paid off.
Here’s what T-Mobile sent us on this matter, saying that “we all know promotions are temporary.”:
As America’s Un-carrier, T-Mobile is committed to introducing the hottest new smartphones at unbeatable promotional prices – but we all know promotions are temporary. The great news here is that well-qualified customers, on approved credit, can still buy iPhone 5 from T-Mobile for $149.99 down starting Monday, May 13. That’s easily the most affordable iPhone 5 price on the market today. Alternatively, customers can also bring in their old iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 through Father’s Day (June 16) and get an iPhone 5 for $0 down plus monthly payments through our special device trade-in offer.
T-Mobile posted first quarter earnings last week and it was largely a mixed bag. Though revenue declined 7 percent from the same time last year, the company saw the first growth in branded customers since the first part of 2009. The carrier also announced it had sold 500,000 Apple devices to date.
T-Mobile, which recently acquired MetroPCS, found itself in some hot water late last month when Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson demanded that the company fix its “deceptive advertising” campaign for the new “Uncarrier” plans, which promise no contracts and no commitment.
Previously on GeekWire: Why I won’t buy another subsidized Android phone (and why you shouldn’t, either)