Embarking on T-Mobile’s One Week “Test Drive”

I’ve been a proponent of T-Mobile’s network and services for the last few years. Living in an area that’s been one of T-Mobile’s biggest markets has its benefits. I used a BlackBerry 9700 with T-Mobile for several months before the release of the BlackBerry 9900. Eventually, BlackBerry’s struggle to adapt had me tweaking for more, and I wasn’t a fan of T-Mobile’s Android offerings at the time, so I inevitably ended up back in my comfort zone on an iPhone with Verizon Wireless. As much as I’ve tried, I just don’t think I’ll ever be an Android kind of guy. When T-Mobile finally landed the iPhone 5, I wanted to switch, but I wasn’t sure how T-Mobile’s network had progressed or regressed since I had last used it. Unfortunately, T-Mobile is one of the few companies in wireless that I don’t have a partnership with, so I’ve been unable to try T-Mobile devices for review to get a feel for the network.

Last week, T-Mobile held its Uncarrier 5.0 press event and announced “Test Drive.” T-Mobile CEO John Legere encouraged potential customers to “cheat on” their current carriers and have a “7 night stand” with a T-Mobile iPhone 5s free of charge. When the program became available, I signed up immediately and my iPhone 5s arrived this afternoon. I’m going to document my experience with T-Mobile in the Philadelphia region. Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you live in an area that T-Mobile focused on improving, I hope you can take something away from this.

I’m going to have a series of three or four posts over the next seven days, detailing my experience. This weekend, I’ll be at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia, so I’m looking forward to putting the T-Mobile network to the test in the Philadelphia sports complex where all networks usually struggle with connectivity when it’s full of people. I also have a lot of traveling and driving to do in the next 7 days, so I’ll be able to test the network from Philadelphia to New Jersey and all the way to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions about what I’ll be testing or any suggestions for things to test, leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to address them.

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  • Jason Gamble

    I am also doing the test drive at the moment. My phone arrived yesterday afternoon. I am using a Note 3 on Sprint so going to a iPhone was going to be a shock, I didn’t think there would be much difference though in service, boy was I wrong. When you have T-Mobile’s LTE it is super fast (at least on the northwest side of Detroit). What I didn’t expect though is how bad the building penetration would be. Two steps out of my building at work and I have 2 bars of LTE, 2 steps inside the building I get essentially nothing. I have had Verizon and Sprint in this building and at home and while not great for reception they both provided 3g and 4g inside both my work and house. If I were to switch to T-Mobile I would have to run off of wifi pretty much 24 hours per day, to me that isn’t worth saving any amount of money for. I love the lightning fast speeds that T-Mobile has but if sprint can beat you in the coverage department you have some serious issues.

    • Yeah, I hear you. Although, they’ve improved their coverage and speed in Philadelphia significantly. They’ve purchased enough low-band spectrum in the area, so I’m not having trouble with signal indoors in the places I’ve been throughout my first 24 hours. I’m getting very good LTE speeds inside my house.

      Thank you for reading and for your comment! I hope you follow the rest of the series.

    • DavidFR

      Test drive of T-Mo is pretty impressive as cmpared to Sprint, comparative details of both scheme shows, your money will be blocked for 3 months with Sprint while T-Mo release it just after 7 days……………………telecomvibe[dot]com

      • Jason Gamble

        Sprint is my primary provider, I’m not doing their version of the test drive, although that is a big advantage.

  • Jason Gamble

    So on day 2 of the test drive I discovered that is a lack of building penetration at my work causing no signal. At home however i just plain don’t get service, not inside my house or outside. About one hundred yards away from my house I get pretty good LTE signal and a half mile away I get full bars. This is the same thing I experience with sprint just not this extreme. I am by far blown away with how fast T-Mobile’s LTE is though, so far my peak download speed is 39.27 Mbps with a upload peak of 26.29 Mass. My iPhone and I don’t always get along but I think I’m getting better, I learned how to uninstall an app last night! I do love the fact that even though I have pretty much zero service I can still send texts as long as I have wifi, that at least makes the experience bearable. I still hold it and call it a cute little toy phone though, it seems like my note 3 is twice as big!
    I am looking forward to reading your next article on this Andrew, it is interesting to see how this will play out. So far I am far from convinced to switch, there are just too many dead zones in Michigan to make it practical. I am only 7.4 miles away from one of the biggest malls in michigan, if I can’t get service how can anyone North of me expect to get service?

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