cell phone plan switcheroo, part 2

Here’s a triumphant update to the last post on switching cell phone carriers.  It’s been a long road, but we finally got there.  As of now, we are now truly paying $80 per month for two cell phones (with about $10 tacked on for taxes).

If you too want to try to make the switch, here are a few things I learned that might help you too.

  1. Getting approval for unlocking from AT&T can be tricky.  I got approval right away for the main phone line.  For the second phone (mine), it was considerably harder.  After about a half dozen phone calls to support, we finally got it.  Make certain that if you have multiple lines, that all IMEI 1 numbers are “attached to the account” (whatever that actually means is anyone’s guess).
  2. This bit is for iPhones owners.  To properly unlock the phone from AT&T, follow their instructions to the letter; don’t cheat like I did and restore a backup of the phone.  The iPhone will still be locked!  Instead, you must restore first.  Then restore your recent backup.  You can’t just skip the blank restore directly to backup.
  3. After you pay your last remaining balance, don’t forget to request approval for refunding your deposit (if you had to prepay one month).  For us, this was about 7 years ago; but hey, it’s worth getting back every penny you’ve loaned to a multi-billion dollar company!

    iTunes restore option
    iTunes restore option

The only remaining uncertainty is coverage area comparison.  It’s still too soon to tell, but so far the data coverage quality is much better in my experience.  At my office, I have far better 3G data connection. We also have excellent voice coverage in our house.

Another observation, less related to service quality: T-Mobile’s website is far superior.  AT&T’s was cluttered and hard to navigate.  T-Mobile seems to have taken a web design note from Google’s latest “card” esthetic.  I like it.  It’s part of the whole clean, unobtrusive design principle.

So if you are looking to lower your bill, T-Mobile seems to be the real deal right now.  Count us as two of the recent millions of switchers from AT&T to T-Mobile.


  1. Your IMEI number is like a digital fingerprint for the phone.






5 responses to “cell phone plan switcheroo, part 2”

  1. Mark Avatar

    There’s a Denver Broncos game going on RIGHT now, and you’re blogging, life-hacking, and doing math?? Nerd! But seriously, some good info here, especially for iPhone users. Does T-Mobile still have any in-network perks for calls, MMS, etc or its that largely obsolete?

    1. Rob Avatar

      Denver Whats-its?

      Not sure I follow with the perks question. Perhaps that’s your answer. I’m unaware of any other perks beyond the contract-less, zero-overage, cheaper plan.

      1. Mark Avatar

        I was referring to being able to call/text/MMS other T-Mobile users without eating into your allocation, but that’s probably deprecated. You have got me thinking, and if I can come with a good voice-calls option I’ll probably go with this $30 unlimited-data prepaid plan: http://goo.gl/v9Nm8

        1. Rob Avatar

          Yeah the pre-paid options are good one too. Good luck!

  2. Rob Lund Avatar

    Here’s another bonus I discovered after the fact: free hotspot on T-Mobile. For real.

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