Move an iPhone 4 from AT&T to Tmobile?
November 4, 2011 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I currently am on my parents plan with an iPhone 4 via AT&T for my phone/data. I would like to keep my phone and number, but move to T-Mobile on to my wife's plan. Is it true that 3G will not work as this article suggests? Can I use any other carrier beside AT&T without gimping my phone? Is there any chance in the future of compatibility with Tmobile? Also: would this nullify my unlimited data with AT&T? Is it possible to get off my parent's plan and on to my own without losing unlimited data? (I was told they no longer offer it..)
posted by idyllhands to Technology (8 answers total)
Best answer: T-Mobile does, indeed, have a unique chunk of spectrum in the U.S. at 1700 MHz. They lost out during the PCS band bidding wars and ended up settling for 1700 later. You'll need a phone that supports that odd band if you want to do more than EDGE speeds.

AT&T and T-Mobile are the only GSM/UMTS carriers in the U.S. If you want another carrier, you need another phone.
posted by introp at 7:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm using t-mobile on my iphone 4 as well, and yes it is true you can only use 3g. I'm signed up for the $30 plan that only gives you 30mb a month so I hardly ever use data anyway, so it's not a big deal to me, but it is pretty slow. This is unlikely to change because it's an issue of the frequency t-mobile uses being incompatible with the iphone (also a reason that t-mobile didn't get the iphone 4s, apparently).

You can use H20 wireless, which apparently uses AT&T frequencies so your phone can use 3g and doesn't need to be unlocked, but it's more expensive, $60/month for "unlimited" data with voice/text, $50 for 250mb/month. I haven't tried it but am thinking about switching.

Also, before you do anything, make sure you really have an unlocked iphone, either a carrier unlock, jailbreak unlock or unlock through gevey sim. Without that, you can't use t-mobile or anything besides AT&T/H20.

Also, not sure what you mean by nullifying your AT&T data, but if you switch to t-mobile you won't be able to switch back to AT&T unlimited data, they don't offer it to new customers anymore.
posted by skewed at 7:51 PM on November 4, 2011

Not precisely true about the only options for GSM being AT&T or T-mobile. There are third party resellers that buy bandwidth and then resell them. resells t-mobile and I've heard good things about them, though they have the same iphone semi-compatibility that t-mobile does. H20 is a reseller of AT&T from what I've read, though I'd check on that to make sure since I don't have personal experience with them.
posted by skewed at 7:54 PM on November 4, 2011

Best answer: Once you leave AT&T you will no longer have their unlimited data. You will have whatever data plan you sign up for with your new provider. You will not be eligible for unlimited data from AT&T in the future, as the unlimited data is only available to customers who were grandfathered in, and is not available on new plans.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 PM on November 4, 2011

Best answer: No, it is not possible that TMO will support the iPhone 4 at 3G speeds. The limitation is in the radio of the iPhone and it is a hardware limitation. AT&T and TMO are ever-so-slightly different bands as mentioned above and this causes 3G to not work at all for an AT&T phone on TMO.

You WILL lose unlimited, they do not offer it anymore. TMO offers it, but doesn't have the iPhone (and they throttle significantly for new customers after 2GB).

In the future, a NEW iPhone might come out with support for TMO's bands (AWS 1700/2100), but not with the current 4 or 4S hardware.
posted by disillusioned at 8:37 PM on November 4, 2011

Best answer: Masochistic iPhone-on-T-Mobile user here. To clarify, T-Mobile does not have 3G that's compatible with iPhone. They do have EDGE which is compatible, but is relatively slow (maybe 5-15kB/sec). It's "unlimited" as far as I know, but disillusioned suggests otherwise.

Also, you can only run jailbroken iOS on T-Mobile unless your phone is hardware-unlocked, which precludes using iOS 5 at the moment.

In short, T-Mobile is pretty much the worst carrier to have an iPhone on at the moment. If you were willing to invest in a 4S, you could have your pick of any other major carrier (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon).
posted by neckro23 at 9:41 PM on November 4, 2011

I used T-Mobile for a while on a 3GS. Having to use EDGE didn't bother me as much (then) as knowing I'd have to wait for a jailbreak and unlock for each update.

I then used H2O Wireless for almost a year after a failed jail breaking process led to my losing the unlock. While they use AT&T, you still give up Visual Voicemail and MMS. I think you might be able to re-enable MMS if you jailbreak and change some settings. I liked them pretty well, but I upgraded to the iPhone 4S from Sprint and find myself using the network all the time, so going back to EDGE would kill me.
posted by kimota at 9:31 AM on November 5, 2011

Response by poster: skewed: I'm assuming you mean EDGE, not 3G..
posted by idyllhands at 6:09 PM on November 6, 2011

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