T-Mobile added another interesting offer this week. The Apple store now sells off-contract iPhones with T-Mobile service, as announced on TMO.com June 26. So you can sign up a month at a time, you're not required to get a 2-year contract. If you're concerned about whether the T-Mobile network has the capacity and availability you want, it may be worth your time to try the T-Mobile Test Drive which began June 23 and is still in effect. You can borrow a working T-Mobile iPhone 5s for one week, free. This writer is taking advantage of the T-Mobile Test Drive offer now.
The Test Drive makes sense for people who have been wondering how strong and reliable T-Mobile's network really is, since T-Mobile cell phone service usually costs less than AT&T service or Verizon service. This week long test drive is not just for writers. This deal is apparently available to anyone in the U.S. with a good credit or debit card who wants to try T-Mobile. It's free, but you'll owe money if you lose, damage, or fail to return the iPhone 5s so you have to provide a credit card to get started. Also, the Test Drive doesn't cover usage outside the U.S. If you make international calls they'll be charged to the card you used to sign up.
The T-Mobile Test Drive iPhone 5s arrived June 25 and so far it's working well. It's been in various suburbs on the west side of Cleveland and comparing T-Mobile's service to the coverage received from an AT&T iPhone iPhone 5s proves interesting. The T-Mobile coverage diagram in the upper left hand corner of the phone usually displays fewer dots than the AT&T phone, usually one less dot. However, so far, in unscientific testing, there's been no noticeable difference in service to match up with the lower number of dots displayed. Of course, the newer T-Mobile iPhone 5s contains a faster processor than the 1-year-old AT&T iPhone 5 and the quicker processing speed could be making up for differences in transmission time, but all in all, things seem to move very similarly from phone to phone and network to network. So far they both received service everywhere they've been: there hasn't been a place where one has service and the other doesn't, yet.
The T-Mobile iPhone 5s arrived in working order. It didn't even need a charge. It arrived two days after the order was placed for the Test Drive deal. See this story for details of the Test Drive: how to get a free iPhone for a week, what you're responsible for, and so forth.