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T-Mobile Overhaul: Win for Lumia, Loss for HTC 8X

In the coverage of T-Mobile's plans to blow up the wireless industry, most of the focus, rightly, is on a handful of things. The company is adding the Apple iPhone to its lineup, eliminating contracts, rolling out an LTE network and revealing the true consumer cost of devices. (CEO John Legere's potty mouth also achieved some notice.)

Windows Phone got zero attention in the announcements (less than BlackBerry even), but the changes have interesting implications for current and future Windows Phone customers.

The self-branded "un-carrier" is offering phones without contracts. Customers can pay for the phone upfront or pay some or no money down and pay out the rest over two years. Meanwhile, the cancel-anytime, unlimited phone, unlimited text and data plan costs $50, $60 or $70 a month for 500 MB, 2 GB or unlimited data, respectively.

For the iPhone 5 coming April 12, the phone cost is $100 down and $20 a month for 24 months.

T-Mobile immediately updated its Web site prices yesterday, and the carrier's two Windows Phones reflected the new pricing. The flagship Windows Phone is the HTC 8X. Buying one of those now will cost $0 up front and $18 a month for two years, with the option to pay the full $432 up front.

HTC 8X
HTC 8X

The other phone, the Nokia Lumia 810 sells for $0 down and $15 a month for two years or $360 at checkout.

Here's where things get, um, surprising for customers who paid more for that HTC device. The 8X by HTC will not support T-Mobile's new LTE network, even though other carriers' HTC 8X devices are LTE-capable. (To make things more confusing, T-Mobile does show a 4G badge next to the HTC phone in its online store. Maybe T-Mobile isn't such an "un-carrier" after all.) The less expensive Lumia 810, however, will support LTE soon.

Windows Phone Daily tracked down a statement from T-Mobile:

"The Lumia 810 is the only other LTE-capable device on T-Mobile aside from the [Samsung Galaxy] Note II, and we will share timing of that LTE [maintenance release] at a later time. Please stay tuned."

In the near term, the difference will only matter in a handful of places as T-Mobile upgrades its infrastructure. Sprint launched its LTE network in seven metro areas Tuesday: Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington, D.C. The company is promising to cover 100 million Americans by the middle of the year, including New York in June. By the end of the year, T-Mobile's network is supposed to cover 200 million Americans.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM


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