Who Is The Cheapest iPhone 5 Carrier? [Chart]

t-mobile_iphone5

Hey, T-Mobile is finally an iPhone carrier now! Not only that, they’re a pretty competitive one, offering you an iPhone 5 for just $100 down and $20 a month over 24 months in what the nation’s fourth-largest carrier is calling a “no bullshit” plan. If you buy an iPhone 5 at T-Mobile, you can leave at any time as long as you pay off your device; otherwise, your service is provided month by month.

Sounds pretty great, but how competitive is T-Mobile’s new iPhone plan compared to the competition really? We compared the cheapest T-Mobile iPhone 5 plan you can get against the 24 month cost of getting one from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, Virgin Mobile and Straight Talk. The result? T-Mobile is one of the cheaper plans around… but it’s not the cheapest.

Here’s the breakdown. We only included plans offering at least 2GB of data per month. Keep in mind that these are the cheapest roughly equivalent individual plans you can get from all carriers, but does not cover shared data or family plans. In addition, Virgin Mobile doesn’t offer the iPhone 5 right now, so we’re including iPhone 4S data for them.

That all said, check out how T-Mobile does. Getting an iPhone 5 from T-Mobile will save you about $370 compared to getting one from AT&T or Verizon over the course of two years.

Please scroll table to see all the data

AT&TVerizonSprintCricketVirginStraight TalkT-Mobile
Minutes$39.99 (450)$39.99 (450)$69.99 (Unlimited)$55.00 (Unlimited)$40 (1200)$45 (Unlimited)$50 (unlimited)
Texting$20$20$0$0$0$0 (Unlimited)$0 (Unlimited)
Data$30 (3GB)$30 (2GB)$10 (Unlimited)$0 (Unlimited)$0 (Unlimited)$0 (Unlimited)$10 (2.5GB)
Activation$36$35$0$0$0$0$0
iPhone$199.99$199.99$199.99$649.99$449.99 (iPhone 4S)$649.99$100 + $480
2-Year Total$2395.79$2394.79$2119.75$1969.99$1409.99$1729.99$2020.00

There is one carrier that is cheaper than T-Mobile: Walmart’s in-house carrier, Straight Talk. We’re unabashed fans of Straight Talk here at Cult of Mac, but there’s a big caveat here: LTE doesn’t work on Straight Talk. T-Mobile, on the other hand, does have a nascent web of LTE coverage.

So what’s the verdict? Basically, the iPhone 5 gets cheaper and cheaper to have for 24 months the smaller the carrier gets. T-Mobile’s new plan will save you around $370 over AT&T and Verizon, and about $100 over Sprint, but Cricket, Straight Talk and Virgin are still cheaper options if you don’t mind buying your iPhone 5 for full price at the start of your contract.

  • Derek Schlicker

    If T-Mo offers unlimited LTE, I don’t even care if switching saves me money, I’m all for it.

  • Hawk_Ky

    Um, it would help if you put T-mobile on the chart…

  • Whodakat

    Um, it would help if you put T-mobile on the chart…

    LOL Thats what I’m saying. Nice chart.

  • AP

    I can’t believe you like Straight Talk. I’ve had to call them up to 4 times a week to get them to re-enable my account (on their end) after services suddenly and mysteriously stop. Not just data. They also repeatedly push bad APN settings that locally disable the phone. I had read that they throttle data after a certain point, but will reset it twice a month (which seemed accurate). As of THIS month, this is no longer true. They refused to unthrottle me. My data was throttled only a WEEK into the month, and I really DON’T use that much. I called to complain about the throttling and get it reset, and they actually told me that I shouldn’t have ANY DATA and were surprised that I did, because they had cut me off. They never called to tell me. They never txt msg to tell me. They never emailed, snail-mailed, ANYTHING to explain why my serviced had vanished. And half the time when I call, I just can’t understand anybody on the other end. Once I asked for a manager, and she pretended to not be able to hear me.

  • Hawk_Ky
    Um, it would help if you put T-mobile on the chart…

    LOL Thats what I’m saying. Nice chart.

    Just noticed it was a scroll-chart. Don’t know if that one was initially uploaded, but now it works.

  • NapMan

    Isn’t it interesting that AT&T and Verizon (I would guess the two largest carriers in the US) are exatly $1.00 different in price over the 2 year period. That difference is just that Verizon charges $35 activation fee and AT&T charges $36.00.

  • extra_medium

    I understand Verizon and at&t etc have bigger costs than Crickett or straight talk on some levels, but I still find it amazing how in this industry it seems to be accepted that the bigger companies can and do charge so much more than the little guys.

  • TheMadTurtle

    If you look further into T-Mobile, you can get even cheaper than straight-talk. For example, I pay $30/month for unlimited text and data and only 100 minutes. It’s 10 cents a minute after and I’ve only gone over once. I bought my 4S from Apple at full price, but it still came in at less than $1,400 over two years.

  • dibarnu

    All of T-mobile’s capped data plans include hotspot. Isn’t that another $20 from most everyone else?

  • annoyingbird

    Straight talk’s service, though cheap, is as good as AT&T. That does not bode well for those who live in socal like me. Also if you do the bring your own phone plan with them the MMS and Group Messaging with non iphone’s does not work. So unless you have an iphone from straight talk those features dont work. I called and tried to get it fixed and Straight Talk told me they do not even know why it doesnt work and they have no fixes for it.

  • CentsOfSecurity

    You can get an iPhone plan for $10 a month if you’re willing to augment your usage with some free WiFi. I did a write up of my plan on my personal finance blog at: http://centsofsecurity.com/best-iphone-plan-10-a-month/

  • basiudotcom

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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