The big cell carriers have had a pretty entrenched way of doing business for a long time. Offer a big phone discount, tie customers in for a two-year contract. T-Mobile made waves this past week by rolling out a no-contract approach to plans. On top of that news, the company announced it was bringing in the iPhone 5.
Suddenly, consumers have the prospect of buying a no-contract iPhone through one of the major carriers. This does come with some caveats. Pricing will be a bit different than we've all come to expect. There will be an up-front fee for the phone and ongoing payments until it's paid off. That means a 16GB iPhone 5 will require a $99 deposit and 24 monthly payments of $20. At $579, that still works out to less than buying an unlocked phone.
This doesn't mean you can sign up for a T-Mobile iPhone, cancel your contract, and run off totally scot-free. The iPhone 5 will be locked to the T-Mobile network until you either pay it off or remain a customer in good standing for at least 60 days. After that, though, you take advantage of the no-contract policy and move along, though you'll still have to pay off the phone.
For some people, the combination of iPhone 5 + no-contract + major carrier will be irresistible. Others may be wary of issues like network coverage, or prefer the old system of having a big up-front phone subsidy. Does a T-Mobile no-contract iPhone tickle your fancy, or are you happy with your current carrier? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments.