What’s it like using an iPhone 6 Plus on T-Mobile in Indianapolis

What’s it like using an iPhone 6 Plus on T-Mobile in Indianapolis

The way I use cell phones is almost comical compared to most people. In the smartphone area I’ve done AT&T back when it was still Cingular, and then switched to Verizon. I didn’t like either. Shifting contracts, shady legal wrangling, and ballooning costs. Then I just went to an iPod Touch and a mix of Skype and Google Voice. That was an interesting time. Then I found Ting, and have used them as my provider of choice riding on Sprint for the last few years.

Simpsons Cell TowerA few weeks ago, however, I found that despite having a newer iPhone 5S, Sprint’s LTE coverage was still reminiscent of what I was always told: “It’s getting better! It’ll be better soon!” Ask Sprint why coverage is weak and they’ll tell you there’s a guy screwing in a new radio on the antenna in your backyard that very second. So after several years of Ting, I switched to T-Mobile. I like Ting’s business model, honest pricing, and support. Their downfall is out of their control, though, with Sprint. I wrote about Ting before, and most of my opinions are still valid, but service has not kept up here in Indy like it should have.

T-Mobile, however, is kinda fun. Their CEO, Jon Legere is like everyone’s favorite dad who bad mouths the neighbors and kinda makes you wish more people were like him. He’s in a classic spot as America’s fourth and relatively obscure network provider, but they’re about to surpass Sprint in membership, and I think it’s all part of his personality and T-Mobile’s emphasis on data rather than phone and text buckets. If you care about data and you live in an urban metro area, you should look at T-Mobile.

T-Mobile in Indianapolis is shockingly good. I’ve traveled all over the metro area to as far north as rural Hamilton County/Madison County, to southeast Marion/Shelby County, to west of Avon and all points around and in between. The signal has always been LTE, it’s always 3+ bars, and it’s fast. It’s faster than Sprint and even if it had to degrade to 4G-level service, it’s still faster than Sprint and faster than Verizon. Whatever pre-conceived notions you have about T-Mobile’s service, they should be forgotten at least in terms of service here in Indianapolis. Granted, service dwindles off in rural Indiana, but you can still talk and text (unlimited, might I add, no catches there), on what is effectively AT&T.

I’ll say this: I never used my phone much out and about because I always assumed it wouldn’t work anyway on Sprint. I use my iPhone a lot more now, particularly because the new iPhone 6 Plus is a pleasure to use. Music Freedom, T-Mobile’s perk to not count music streaming against your data cap, is surprisingly fun, too. I never figured I’d use it much, but because I can, I do. All the time. It sadly doesn’t include iTunes Match streaming, but does include iTunes Radio, my player of choice since it’s already built-in.

T-Mobile does use higher frequency channels for their cell network, which means they have lesser reception quality inside buildings. This is also true of Sprint. But T-Mobile’s WiFi Calling works seamlessly and ensures I have full signal all the time at home. Problem solved.

iPhone 6 Plus has replaced my iPad

On top of my new service with T-Mobile, I’ve sold my iPad Air and consolidated everything into one device. This is where I’ve wanted to be for years.

The math breaks down in such a way that I have always spent about $300-$350 a year on a new phone. I’ve always bought used because Ting never has the newest phones. Even when I carried just an iPod Touch it was still about $325. Additionally I usually upgraded my iPad every year to the tune of $500. Even when selling my old devices and taking the trade-in value, I was spending $400 dollars a year “out of pocket” on two devices. If I waited to upgrade either device, I’d lose more money from lower trade-in-value.

With T-Mobile I just joined JUMP, their “Just Upgrade My Phone” plan that costs $10 a month. After adding $50 for service, $10 for JUMP, and another $25ish for the phone, I pay $90 a month to T-Mobile. Annually it costs me $300 for the phone, plus $120 for JUMP. At which point I can upgrade to the next iPhone. That’s $420 a year, making the old way and the new way a statistical wash for me, except now I don’t have to sell stuff or deal with crazy eBay people. Granted, I spent less on Ting than I do T-Mobile, by about $10 a month. But $120 a year for service I can actually use and really do like is worth the upgrade. Plus, JUMP is an insurance program that covers more than Apple Care. No other carrier does that. I traditionally don’t go in for insurance plans and warranties, but you’re not wrong to think of it as $8 insurance and $2 “upgradeability” all in one.

The iPhone 6 Plus gets a little less awkward and a little better each day

The iPhone 6 Plus has been reviewed endlessly by all kinds of people. As a guy who wears ordinary clothes and sometimes carries a bag and sometimes uses his phone one-handed (with small hands), and sometimes plays a game but generally “works” on his phone, I quite like it. Many have said it can’t replace an iPad, and I agree on only one point: I can’t type as quickly on my iPhone — with any keyboard or orientation — as well as I could with my iPad.

But, there’s immense value in having just one device. There’s freedom in having one thing to grab. I was never without my iPhone when I had my iPad. Now it’s just one device and I’m finding that consolidating apps (meaning, apps without universal iPhone/iPad compatibility) has some value. No more buying iPhone version and iPad version of this and that.

It’s the right size for using on the bus or on a park bench or crowded table or walking in a crowd. You could never use your iPad while moving, and I could never use mine on the bus, no matter how many times I said I would. It’s too crowded sometimes, and hard to keep your laps up and closed long enough to support it.

iPhone 6 Plus fixes that for me. I used to use an iPad Mini, but found it kinda useless for my needs and typing was still a chore. I only used it in places where I would have used the larger iPad, so eventually I just went back to the full-size iPad. Now I use my iPhone absolutely everywhere and it’s great for meetings and note taking. I find myself using my MacBook Pro a little bit more, which is also fine, for longer form typing and “hard work”. Which I never did on my iPad anyway. At the end of the day it’s a net gain for my productivity, happiness, and my bank account.

I have no trouble with my iPhone 6 Plus fitting in my pockets (I’m a guy, I wear 32/32 size jeans), and even with my small hands I can use my phone one-handed 75% of the time. Typing anything longer than two words requires two hands. But that’s okay, it’s still a little awkward but I’m adapting and finding myself happier with the decision.

tl;dr

If you’re in Indianapolis (or any city, really), you should check out T-Mobile. They offer a free 7 day test-drive and will ship you an iPhone for testing. They have a 14 day return policy on everything and even if in 4 months you don’t want it anymore, they’re contract free. As someone who loathes contracts and “long term debts”, this I like.

You can use this handy referral code and we both get a little kickback credit if you signup a T-Mobile. I think you will.

You can also read my past thoughts and get a referral code for Ting, too.


Want to know when stuff like this is published?
Sign up for my email list.

Photo of Justin Harter

About JUSTIN HARTER

Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle 🚴 💨.

Leave a Comment