How to Use an iPhone 5 on T-Mobile Right Now

Oct 3, 2012 - 26 Comments

iPhone 5 on T-Mobile

Many of us were disappointed to learn T-Mobile didn’t officially pick up the iPhone 5, but it hardly matters when T-Mobile is making it easier than ever to use the newest iPhone on their network anyway. Not only that, but with the T-Mobile HSPA+ network rollout the reported data speeds in many regions are impressively fast. If you’re looking to save a bunch of money every month or you just hate contracts, this is probably the way to go.

Using iPhone 5 on T-Mobile is now this simple:

  • Buy an unlocked iPhone 5 at full price ($650) – or get a Verizon iPhone 5 with unlocked SIM, or pay full price for an off-contract iPhone 5 from AT&T and restore the device through iTunes to unlock it
  • Get an iPhone 5 compatible nano-SIM from T-Mobile – shave a micro-SIM yourself, visit a local store, or contact TMO support at 1-800-866-2453
  • Sign up for a T-Mobile plan – $30/month for 5GB of 4G data and unlimited SMS is their best web-only deal by far
  • Pop the T-Mobile nano SIM into the iPhone 5

We’ve received several confirmations from readers on how easy it is to get iPhone 5 working with T-Mobile in the USA, and also how helpful their reps are to get everything functioning. The web-only $30/month offering is such a ridiculously good deal – as long as you don’t spend much time talking – that you could easily pay off the full priced unsubsidized iPhone 5 in under a year when compared to paying for the expensive 4G data plans offered by AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. Plus there’s no contract.

Making things even better is a crowd-sourced T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ coverage map that 9to5mac discovered, showing where iPhone 5 users can get the fastest data speeds on T-Mobile:

iPhone 5 T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ network support

One 9to5mac user provided the following screenshot from Speed Test, showing an iPhone 5 downloading at a super-fast 13.45 Mbps with a speedy 3.38 Mbps upload speed.

iPhone 5 on T-Mobile data speeds

For what it’s worth, those data speeds are significantly faster than standard 3G and 4G speeds on competing networks, though they aren’t as fast as an unencumbered LTE network. The only potential downside is when you leave a HPSA+ coverage area your data speeds will be dropped down to the 2G Edge network, and for that reason going the unofficial route to T-Mobile won’t be a viable solution for everyone.


Related articles:

Posted by: Matt Chan in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Percy Deleon says:

    I have an sprint iphone 5..
    My question is can I connect it with tmobile????

  2. kevin says:

    what is the apn settings with 3G? I always see is E(dge).

  3. Nick says:

    Is it possible to buy a no contract Verizon iPhone 5 from a apple store in the US for the retail price?


  4. Jessie R says:

    Any idea if I can get the Iphone 5
    32GB or 64GB unlocked – no contract
    anywhere in Houston?

  5. Neil says:

    Well that’s just not true, Verizon 4G LTE coverage on the East Coast gives me approx. 40+Mbs every time I do a speed test.

  6. Aquemini says:

    Anyone got info which iPhone 5 I should buy if I want it work in China with China Unicom? Any advise very appreciated.

  7. Sam says:

    Which version of the iPhone 5, AT&T or Verizon, will work better with T-mobile?

  8. Vishal Singh says:

    i want to buy an iphone 5(32 GB) on contract from us and use it in india….will it work or i will have to pay some amount of money every month for that….if u have any ans. plzz reply…..

  9. Eli says:

    Apparently the new T-Mobile nano sim has been release. Check with your local T-Mobile stores. I recently purchase a month o month no contract iPhone 5 from Verizon. Should be here in less then 2 weeks.

  10. Alfie says:

    I use a 3GS that I bought new unlocked for $375. It works fine for voice and SMS. I bought 1000 minutes prepaid though for $100 rather than bother with data. I find that I generally don’t need a data plan since Wifi is everywhere. Plus, I don’t use services that are data-centric like Friendface.

    Cost: $375 + $100 every 6 or 12 months.

    TCO (total cost of ownership) for one year is $475 to $575.

    • Dean says:

      You can also buy a 3GS on eBay here in the U.S. for $150 or so in good condition, then use one of the many ATT resellers for much lower cost if your needs are far less than even the T-Mobile deal. For example, both Airvoice Wireless and H2O offer $10 per month plans that work with iPhones. You’ll have to set the APN to have data, but all you do after putting in the sim card and signing up is open Safari on the iPhone while on WiFi and visit Click on Change APN, and scroll down to whichever carrier you are using. Then hit Enter or Create and you’re done. It will tell the iPhone which carrier to connect to for data. Airvoice offers .04 per min calls, .02 per text, and .33 per mb (which is somewhat high for prepaid data, but you’re not paying $30 or more per month for service). This works great if you are a very casual user. You do not want the pay as you go plan with Airvoice, you want the $10 per month plan, the have different rates.

  11. Orpheo says:

    I tried to do this but can’t find T-Mobile in the UK. I know that your blog is not just for US readers so how can I do this from here? Thanks, O.

  12. Sam says:

    Assume a working Verizon iPhone 5 with voice/data plan functioning. Pop in a T-Mobile data sim. Can you toggle between VZW/T-Mob using carrier settings???

  13. Winski says:


  14. Brian says:

    For the math impaired, here’s a simple way to look at this:

    $649+tax + ($30*12) = $1009 for a year of ownership

    $200+tax + ($90*12) = $1280 for a year of ownership

    After two years on T-Mobile, the normal contract time, you will have saved over $500. Basically, the price of a brand new iPhone.

  15. DCJ001 says:

    I bought a contract-free Verizon iPhone at my local Apple Store last week for $649.

  16. Kuray says:

    As far as I know, the unlocked iPhone 5’s doesn’t sale in US.
    You can only get it with contract for NOW.

    Does anyone know when unlocked iPhone 5 sales will start?

    • John says:

      Buy any AT&T iPhone off-contract at full price

      Take it home and restore it with iTunes



      Buy any Verizon iPhone 5 full price, and the sim card slot is unlocked

      • Kuray says:

        I live in Turkey, my friend just come from US and said they don’t have iPhone 5 without contract.
        He bought 4S 16 GB instead of 5 :(

        So anyone can go to any Apple Store in US and request AT&T iPhone 5 without contract for $650+tax?

        • John says:

          Yes, you can pay full price for iPhone 5 and then restore it with iTunes (do this while you’re in the USA and connected to AT&T) and it will unlock itself. Verizon iPhone 5 has unlocked SIM card slot too.

          • Rit says:

            What do you say in Apple store to get one of these “OFF-Contract” phone do i have to pay extra than $649?

  17. Roberto says:

    Yup this works. One note, I had to cut down my sim card myself because local store (Austin, TX) didn’t have them in stock yet, they said end of September they would meaning everyone should be able to get one now. 4G is really quick beats my friends LTE sometimes!

    I bought one out of contract but you can also unlock an ATT iPhone 5 through @chronic for $30 and it gets done in a day.

    • Hans says:

      Yeah had to do the ebay code thing myself, since I could only find a iPhone 5 at a Radio Shack. However, I got a code for about $9 (gave me a code in a day as well), so it pays to shop around.

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