(NEW YORK) — Are you a T-Mobile customer? Been waiting to get an iPhone? Five years after the iPhone originally launched in 2007, T-Mobile will finally start carrying it.
It might not be as buzz-worthy as when Verizon finally got the iPhone back in 2011, but it’s going to be a pretty big deal for T-Mobile subscribers next year, when the carrier starts selling Apple products.
“T-Mobile has entered into an agreement with Apple to bring products to market together next year. Additional details will be made available at a later date,” T-Mobile spokesperson told ABC News.
T-Mobile wouldn’t elaborate on the exact products to ABC News, but T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere said while speaking at the Deutsche Telekom conference Thursday that it will carry the iPhone and will offer it in a different way.
“What was missing? A certain number of customers wouldn’t come to the store if we didn’t have the iPhone,” Legere said. “We worked very, very hard for a deal that made sense for us.”
Legere said that T-Mobile will be eliminating subsidies to customers in 2013, making users buy their phones at full price and without a contract. Currently most U.S. carriers offer phones with a subsidy, paying for part of the phone but locking customers into a contract with monthly data and talk fees. For instance, today most smartphones cost around $199 with a subsidy, though their retail prices are a lot higher — say, around $600. With monthly bills of around $50, carriers are able to make the money back.
T-Mobile will offer cheaper data plans or value plans, and also monthly plans for paying off the cost of the phone. It will also allow customers to upgrade phones when they want. Legere mentioned offering the iPhone for $99 and then allowing customers to pay off the rest in monthly increments. Currently, T-Mobile offers unlimited 4G data plans for considerably less than its larger competitors do.
“When this device rolls out I can only tell you, it will be a dramatically different experience, and I can only tell you that of all the reports that have been written about what’s going to happen when it comes out, they’re all wrong,” Legere said. But Legere said customers would have to wait “months” until the company says more.
T-Mobile is the last major U.S. carrier to get the iPhone; Sprint, Verizon and AT&T all offer it. (AT&T was the first in 2007.) For lack of the iPhone, a high-speed LTE network and some other benefits, T-Mobile fell behind in the U.S. and lost customers. But 2013 might be the year the carrier turns it around with its plans to acquire Metro PCS, launch its LTE networks and now offer those all-important Apple products.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho
Matt McFarland, CNN