T-Mobile Apple iPhone 5 – Review, Test Report, and First Look

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UNIQUE T-MOBILE FEATURES

DSC_1647The main unique feature of T-Mobile’s iPhone experience is HD Voice.   HD is intended to imply high definition and the few calls I made to another T-Mobile iPhone were indeed crystal clear and had almost zero background noise.   In the United States, this feature is unique to T-Mobile.

HD Voice is not unique to the iPhone 5, however.  Other mobiles with that capability include the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC One S, and the Nokia Astound.

Unlike its three main competitors, T-Mobile also offers truly unlimited data plans (although there is some throttling involved) so the mobile hotspot feature that allows you to use your iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot is far more useful than with other plans.  This also makes Facetime video conferencing a bit more attractive and T-Mobile supports Facetime over 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks as well as Wi-Fi of course.

So far, I have consistently seen 15 to 16 Mbps downstream and 3 to 3.5 Mbps upstream.

If you want to use voice and data simultaneously, something that is more likely to come up with an unlimited data plan and the mobile hotspot features offered by T-Mobile, you can.  Verizon and Sprint do not support this on the iPhone

One thing that’s missing, at least for the time being, is T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling feature that allows you to connect to the T-Mobile network from virtually any hotspot in the world.

SETTING UP AND USING THE T-MOBILE IPHONE 5

First, a disclaimer: this is my first iPhone.  I am a long-time iPad user and started using a 13” MacBook Pro with Retina display last year.   The user interface is close enough to the iPad to make the learning curve close to zero.   The biggest problem I had was figuring out an easy way to load my normal ringtone into the phone so I would know I have a phone call but our resident Apple guru made that a no brainer.

Otherwise, I simply plugged it into my MacBook Pro and let it sync with iTunes and off we were.  The upgrade to iOS 6.1.3 was completed automatically at this time.  My contacts magically appeared, as did a complete history of my messages from Apple’s Messenger program that I use on both the MacBook Pro and the iPad.  It was really that simple.

BOTTOM LINE

When the iPhone 5 debuted last September, it was clearly the best iPhone ever and, to borrow from Dan Collins’ review, had “everything that users of other mobile phones have had for months (if not longer)”.  It’s sharp looking, slim, and lightweight, and works as expected (which is quite well).

While Apple Maps still has a long way to go, Google Maps (one of the first apps I added to the phone) is a refined product and available for free.

It will take a while to get used to the new Lightning connector (which renders all current accessories useless without an adapter) and it may very well take T-Mobile a while to get up to speed on the iPhone, based on my experiences speaking with a total of five different technical support representatives where only one partially knew what he was talking about but had the wisdom to go look things up (don’t all support people do this?) and came back with the correct answers when I had some follow-up questions.

While the iPhone 5 itself isn’t new, that should probably make little difference to the long-neglected T-Mobile customers who have been patiently waiting for one.  Speaking as one myself, it’s been worth waiting for.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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