Where did T-Mobile Go?

by Dave Michels

I try not to get hung up on the carriers – they are or at least should be, dumb pipes.

Though if there is any carrier I have any loyalty to, it is T-Mobile. Of course, loyalty is a relative term. I was loyal all the way until Verizon launched the Motorola Droid – then I dumped them. But all things being equal, I would prefer to be on T-Mobile. The reasons being:

  1. Customer service is much better. Every time I call Verizon customer service I feel dirty.
  2. Although Tmo’s coverage is weak in some markets (like SF), it is great in Denver/Boulder. I can carry a conversation from Boulder to Winter Park (over the pass) without dropping a call. I can’t do that with Verizon.
  3. Tmobile’s prices are much better than Verizon’s.
  4. It is nice to be able to go to Europe and have my phone work.
  5. I like SIM cards, being able to move phone numbers around between phones and even buying a local Europe SIM card is a nice option.

T-Mobile had the early lead with Android. They were the first carrier to offer an Android phone – the G1 – which I bought for my wife. My 11 YO now uses it – though he doesn’t have the data plan – the wifi data is very good at home and allows him to install lots of games and other apps. The G1 was one of the only Android phones that did not require a data plan.

I waited for a 2nd generation G1 – and I thought I wanted a keyboard. The wait was long. When Verizon launched the Droid, the first Android phone with a keyboard after the G1, I switched to Verizon, but left my family on T-Mobile. What a rip-off. The name of the game is family plans. The Droid has been a good phone, but the keyboard turned out to be useless. I more or less adapted to the onscreen keyboard now.

To go back to T-Mobile means I have to break my contract, but I got in before Verizon raised that penalty. With Tmo’s lower prices (and the resale value of the Droid), I can justify breaking the contract, but I don’t like any of their phones. I was considering the Nexus One, but it is too complicated to buy. The Google webstore makes you choose between buying a new phone/contract or adding to an existing “individual” plan – I have a corporate family plan and I honestly don’t understand how to buy the phone.

Besides, the Nexus One is old now. I want a new phone. The Droid X looks ‘incredible’. But after reading over Pogue’s review I noticed a trend. He talks about how the killer Android phone keeps changing:

“Last November, you might have been tempted by the Motorola Droid, “the best Android phone on the market.” A month later, the HTC Hero was “the best Android phone on the market.” By January, “the best Android phone yet” was the Nexus One. In April, “the best Android device that you can purchase” was the HTC Incredible. In May, “the best Android phone on the market” was the Sprint Evo.”

Two observations: The killer phone is never at T-Mobile and the killer phones are mostly HTC.

I knew Android was going to be big; though I was a year off in my prediction. But I also thought GSM (and T-Mobile) was going to kick butt. Not only were they first, but the world market/world economics of GSM should have dictated the winner. Why isn’t T-Mobile ruling the roost?

I’ve decided I want a super phone. A phone and pad wrapped up on one, suitable for reading and calling. The new super phones – the Evo, Incredible, and Droid X are not on T-Mobile. So I continue to wait. But I fear it will be a long wait as T-Mobile hasn’t had the best Android offering since the G1. With so many Android phones on the market, why do I have to wait? I am also curious about the Cisco Cius – though I am not sure if that is suitable for non Cisco environments or what carrier it will be on.

The Droid X looks tempting, but if get that one, I have to both break my contract and agree to a more expensive to break contract.