T-Mobile brought back the concept of unlimited data plans when it introduced the T-Mobile One plan in 2016. It eventually added a premium tier plan called T-Mobile One Plus, and now it’s offering a lower-tier plan: T-Mobile Essentials.
The plan will cost $60 for one line, $30 for the second line, and $15 for each of the next lines (up to six lines total). That means for a family of four the T-Mobile Essentials plan will only cost $30 per line (assuming the payments are made via autopay).
T-Mobile CEO John Legere called out the confusing rate plans of competitor carriers like Verizon and AT&T and pointed to T-Mobile’s plans as being “simple.” However, he neglected to acknowledge that all the major carriers – including T-Mobile – offer multiple “unlimited” plans that are, in fact, limited, which is confusing in itself.
But aside from the confusion of all the different plans, the T-Mobile Essentials product taken at face value seems like a good deal. However, when you dig down into the asterisks and limitations, you realize that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be if you only need one line. If you need two, it starts to make more sense.
What do you get with T-Mobile Essentials? You get the same nationwide “unlimited” talk, text, and 4G LTE data that T-Mobile One plans receive (throttled after ~50GB of monthly data) and access to T-Mobile Tuesdays promotions. However, Essentials customers will be lower-priority traffic in congested areas, so you might see some slowdown in big cities or during large events.
It’s hard to recommend this plan because you’re paying only a little less than you would for T-Mobile One and missing so many benefits.
Aside from T-Mobile Tuesdays and the same amount of data, talk, and text, Essentials customers don’t get any of the other perks that T-Mobile One customers get. That means no international data (except in Canada and Mexico where 2G data is free), no free Netflix, and no in-flight Wi-Fi and texting.
Oh, and one more thing: unlike with the One plans, taxes and fees are not included with the Essentials plan. Ouch.
Check out our chart below to see the differences:
|T-Mobile One||T-Mobile Essentials|
|Data||Unlimited (throttled after 50GB)||Unlimited (throttled after 50GB)|
|Netflix on Us||With two lines or more||Not available|
|In-Flight Wi-Fi||One hour free per month||Not available|
|In-Flight Texting||Unlimited||Not available|
|Data in Canada & Mexico||5GB of 4G LTE, unlimited 3G after||Unlimited 2G speeds|
|Talk in Canada & Mexico||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Text in Canada & Mexico||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Data in other countries||Unlimited at 2G speeds||Not available|
|Talk in other countries||$0.20 per minute||$0.25 per minute|
|Text in other countries||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Mobile Hotspot (USA)||Unlimited at 3G speeds||Unlimited at 3G speeds|
|Data Priority||Top tier||Lower tier|
|Number of lines limit||12||6|
|One line with autopay||$70||$60 + taxes & fees|
|One line without autopay||$75||$65 + taxes & fees|
|Two lines with autopay||$120||$90 + taxes & fees|
|Two lines without autopay||$130||$100 + taxes & fees|
After looking all this over, it’s hard to recommend the Essentials plan for individual users. If you sign up with a single line at $60, after taxes and fees you’re going to be so close to spending the $70 flat rate you would spend on the basic One plan. Those few extra dollars get you prioritized traffic, texting and data in over 200 countries instead of just three, and in-flight texting with one hour of in-flight data each month. And, if you decide to add more lines, you’ll get free Netflix. Seems like a no-brainer to sign up for the basic One plan instead.
But, if you need two lines and don’t care about Netflix or international data, the Essentials plan becomes a decent deal.
If you still want the T-Mobile Essentials plan, it will be available online and in-store starting this Friday, August 10. Click below for more details.