It's Mobile Madness Time!

Category: Mobile

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and cellular carriers are taking full swings at each other, hoping to knock customers loose from the competition. Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T are all duking it out in the mobile phone arena. The deals (bribes?) being offered to tempt people into switching mobile carriers can amount to hundreds of dollars per account if you switch. Here is a round-up of who is offering what…

Should You Switch Mobile Carriers?

T-mobile is targeting specific rivals one at a time, with short-term deals throughout December. They're offering up to $650 per line to everyone who switches from any other carrier to defray early-termination fees, or buy out the balance of service plans. You'll also get free overnight shipping on phones purchased from now through December 22nd.

Through December 13, T-mobile is also offering $200 off the price of a 128 GB iPhone 6S to AT&T customers who switch to T-mobile. The $200 comes in the form of a bill credit, and brings the price of the phone down to $649.99; that’s what T-mobile charges other customers for a 16 GB iPhone 6S. AT&T switchers can also get up to $125 off on accessories such as the Apple Watch, Beats headphones, and Bluetooth speakers from JBL and UE Boom.

Current T-mobile Simple Choice subscribers got a holiday gift on December 1: three months of unlimited LTE data. That’s an expansion of T-mobile’s Binge On streaming service that does not count video traffic from services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, Watch ESPN, or Sling against a subscriber’s data allowance. Unfortunately, this 3-month LTE gift is not available to new subscribers.

Switch Mobile Carriers?

Sprint, like T-mobile, is offering up to $650 to switchers. Unlike T-mobile, Sprint requires a phone trade-in. With a trade-in, you can get a 16 GB iPhone 6S for $15/month, and a new iPhone every year “forever,” or until your 22-month contract expires. This offer is good only in Sprint stores, because you have to hand over your trade-in phone. If you don’t want to trade in a phone or deal with Sprint face to face, you can get the LG G Flex2 for free with a 24-month contract, and order online or by phone.

For five days, December 7 to 11, Sprint is giving away daily gifts to its customers. The December 7 batch included give bucks off your next Uber ride, 10% discounts on iTunes music, or a free Alcatel ONETOUCH PIXI™ 7 tablet with a free year of service. It’s first come, first served, while supplies last. Gifts change daily at noon CST.

What About Verizon and AT&T?

Verizon will be next to feel T-mobile’s sting, probably around December 11. But the leading carrier has already thrown its holiday punch, offering new and existing customers 2 GB of bonus data every month for every phone they add or upgrade through Jan. 6. The additional 2 GB of monthly data can be shared, and the deal can be combined with other offers. The catch is that you must buy a lot of data to qualify for the extra 2 GB. The minimum qualifying plan is Verizon’s XL plan which offers 12 GB of data for $80 per month. If you use your phone primarily away from your home Wi-Fi, or you have teens who gobble data, this may be a tempting offer.

AT&T continues to astonish me with its profoundly inept marketing. It offers just $300 credit to help with early termination fees, and a laundry list of conditions apply. I have never seen a Web page that made it harder to shop or buy than AT&T’s “holiday specials” page. It’s like digging through the jumbled clearance bin at Goodwill. You can get a free Samsung Gear S smartwatch with a 2-year service agreement, but “Your item will ship between Jan 20, 2016 - Jan 27, 2016. (Shipping date subject to change.)” That’s the only offer that caught my eye, and for the wrong reason.

Maybe Verizon and AT&T, with their dominant market positions, don't feel the need to offer the same type of deals to lure switchers from other carriers. But as a consumer, it's worth looking at Sprint or T-mobile if you can switch with no hassle or early termination penalty.

Of course, before switching, you should make sure that a mobile carrier has a good strong signal wherever you plan to use it the most. It's not enough to look at coverage maps or ask the sales rep in the store if your zip code is covered. There are places in my neighborhood where the Verizon mobile signal completely drops out. Ask a friend or neighbor if they get a good signal from their carrier before you shop.

Do you know of any other "switch and save" deals being offered by mobile phone companies? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "It's Mobile Madness Time!"

Posted by:

08 Dec 2015

About a month ago, I was considering switching from AT&T to T-Mobile. I went in to the store and talked with them about buying out my contract. They would do that but only if I bought a new phone. I was perfectly happy with my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which was compatible with their network. But they insisted I would have to buy a new phone. I checked with customer service at T-Mobile and they also told me that was the rules. So I said no.

The deal wasn't as good as the $650 deal you refer to in your article. Maybe at $650 it would work out.

Posted by:

08 Dec 2015

Although not a "switch and save" deal, there are many, much less expensive options listed here:


Even Tracfone has jumped into the fray.

Posted by:

09 Dec 2015

Deals on phones are all great and wonderful, but at the end of the day it's the quality of the network that matters most. I had T-Mobile a couple of years ago and getting a signal in certain places was just impossible. When you can't make a phone call from your own house, well that's a problem. Have AT&T now and although it's not perfect, the service is certainly more reliable.

Posted by:

09 Dec 2015

Hello Bob,

Have you ever considered a Canadian segment in the Consumer Reports "Canada Extra" way?
This would be particularly appreciated in situations when you report on (U.S.) cellular carriers!


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