**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of February's hottest selling smartphones to see how the iPhone 5 fared against competition from Samsung and others.**
T-Mo announced Tuesday that a long last, it will carry Apple's iconic device. The iPhone 5 goes on sale at America's fourth-largest wireless operator on Friday, April 12.
What might be even more interesting is the pricing plan – the fact that there is none. The iPhone 5 will be available without a contract. T-Mobile's new Simple Choice Plan starts with a base rate of $50 per month for unlimited talk, text and Internet access. You get 500MB of data at that rate. Customers can add 2GB of data for $10 per month, per line, or unlimited data for an additional $20. You can get a second line for $30 per month. There are no caps and no overages.
Of course, without a subsidy, you're going to pay more for the iPhone than at other carriers. It'll set you back $580; however, T-Mobile will permit you to pay just $100 down and then shell out $20 per month for 24 months. The carrier is the first to offer such a payment plan.
“This is an important day for people who love their iPhone but can’t stand the pain other carriers put them through to own one," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile USA. “We feel their pain. I’ve felt the pain. So we’re rewriting the rules of wireless to provide a radically simple, affordable iPhone 5 experience — on an extremely powerful network."
The iPhone 5 will operate on either T-Mo's HSPA+ network or its new 4G LTE network. The company announced on Tuesday the launch of LTE service in seven major cities, including Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The company's LTE network is expected to reach 100 million people by mid-year and 200 million nationwide by the end of 2013. T-Mobile's HSPA+ network reaches 225 million people in 229 metropolitan areas.
The shift to no-contract plans is considered radical for a major operator. While many smaller carriers offer prepaid, no-contract options, T-Mobile is the first of the big four to do so. The company says iPhone owners can save $1,000 over the course of two years without being on a contract.
The change in strategy is receiving generally positive reviews from industry insiders. Mike Roberts, principal analyst for Americas at Informa Telecoms & Media, calls it the "right move at the right time."