OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren EditionSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

T-Mobile has one of the most ambitious 5G plans of any carrier out there and with its purchase of Sprint, T-Mobile has a ton of spectrum and a great platform to build a great 5G network. T-Mobile has already deployed a nationwide 5G network on its low-band 600MHz spectrum and high-band mmWave spectrum with plans to continue expansion with Sprint's mid-band 5G spectrum. This combined network is poised to be one of the strongest in the nation.

The 5G Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G

Fast, smooth, and cutting edge

Samsung's new flagship, the Galaxy S20+ supports all of T-Mobile's 5G bands including Sprint's 5G bands making it one of the best ways to get connected with 5G. It also has a great set of cameras, a beautiful display with a high refresh rate, and a massive battery.

When will my area even get 5G?

T-Mobile has launched its low-band 5G network. Low-band 5G will be built alongside T-Mobile's band 71 LTE network using the same equipment. This upgrade will benefit 4G LTE customers as well as future 5G customers. At 600Mhz, this is the lowest frequency we've seen in 5G and coverage will be much better than we've seen from any 5G deployment so far including Sprint's network.

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T-Mobile says they will cover 200 million people, or 5,000 cities, with 5G by the end of the year. T-Mobile has also released an interactive 5G coverage map with 600Mhz included. That's pretty cool.

T-Mobile 600Mhz 5G mapSource: T-Mobile

While our initial tests don't show the huge speeds people have come to expect with 5G, this low-band network does show some improvement over LTE and should be able to provide much better coverage. You'll need a compatible phone to use this network such as the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G or the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren.

It remains to be seen how long it will take for T-Mobile to fully integrate Sprint's 5G network with its own but when it does, it will get access to solid coverage in Sprint's nine covered cities. Sprint's 5G network is utilizing spectrum at 2.5GHz which should offer coverage similar to LTE for the most part.

T-Mobile is still building a high-band, or millimeter wave, 5G network in a few cities. This deployment of 5G is on bands N260 and N261 at 39Ghz and 28Ghz respectively. The network is off to a strong start with a list of six cities and surprisingly detailed maps. With some coverage in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Cleveland, and Atlanta, the number of cities is high compared to other carriers but the actual 5G coverage is still quite low. Some highlighted areas with consistent coverage only encompass a few neighborhoods and many only have it a street intersection.

This deployment is reassuringly honest but it does exemplify the difficulty of deploying high-band 5G in a city.

I used T-Mobile's 5G network, and it's a whole lot like using its 4G network

Which devices should I get to be 5G ready?

Your best bet for compatibility is to go with one of the newest 5G phones from Samsung or LG such as the Galaxy S20+. The smaller Galaxy S20 will have support for the low and mid-band networks but not mmWave. The LG V60 ThinQ 5G has also been confirmned to work with Sprint's mid-band spectrum.

Older devices like the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G or OnePlus 7T Pro might be able to work with the Sprint network in the future with a software update but this has not been confirmed so don't count on it just yet.

OnePlus 7T Pro McLarenSource: Android Central

Which plan do I need for access?

T-Mobile is allowing anyone with a compatible device to access its 5G network. It's important to note that using 5G will likely lead to increased data usage so a plan with plenty of data is recommended. Still, T-Mobile continues to stand out from the crowd in a great way with this 5G approach. And really, it doesn't make sense from a technical perspective to charge more for 5G access.

What tech is T-Mobile using?

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray announces 5GSource: @NevilleRay

T-Mobile started with high-band 5G on 28Ghz and 32Ghz bands. With this network, T-Mobile should be competitive with what Verizon and AT&T have been doing once the network has more time to mature. This high-band deployment should be capable of very high speeds but building penetration and coverage are much more limited than we're used to with 4G.

T-Mobile launched a 600Mhz, low-band, 5G network in December of 2019. With new equipment, T-Mobile was also able to update its 4G LTE service on the same tower. This deployment should sound familiar to 5G enthusiasts since U.S. Cellular announced similar plans this October. AT&T has also followed along with its own low-band 5G deployment starting in late 2019.

Of course, there's Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum. We got an early look at Sprint's 5G and while things were promising, it has not grown quickly enough to stay competitive. With any luck, T-Mobile will be able to make great use of Sprint's spectrum which can offer higher speeds and greater capacity than T-Mobile's low-band spectrum as it is now.

What's the deal with Sprint and does it matter?

Sprint and T-Mobile merger announcementSource: New T-Mobile

T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint is complete and with it comes great potential. Many people will have flashbacks to older failed mergers but T-Mobile points to its well-handled Metro PCS integration as a model for this joining. T-Mobile estimates that fully integrating the networks will take up to three years so, for now, neither Sprint or T-Mobile customers are looking at any immediate changes.

Still, T-Mobile is much closer to bringing its layer cake dream of a 5G network, one that seamlessly switches between low, mid, and high-band spectrum, to being a reality.

Is 5G worth it for most people?

On T-Mobile, it really comes down to if you want the phone because there is no current separation of plans. The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G is quite a good phone with everything you would expect from a modern flagship device. If you just want the advanced speed and improved connection consistency of 5G, the Galaxy S20 5G is a strong phone and T-Mobile has even demonstrated speeds over 1Gbps on its predecessor.

While 4G LTE will continue to be fast enough for most people for a few years into the future, eventually everyone will transition to 5G. With the speed we're currently seeing on T-Mobile's low-band 5G and no solid date for how long it will take to fully integrate the Sprint network, there's no rush to jump into 5G. That being said, with the newest 5G phones on T-Mobile set to work with both networks when the time comes, if you're ready for a new phone, 5G is the way to go.

It's OK not to be hyped about 5G

What is 5G for good?

T-Mobile 5G for Good logoSource: T-Mobile

5G for Good is an initiative to use the power of 5G to help the community. While some people have accused T-Mobile of putting on a show to grease the government's wheels in approving its merger with Sprint, it's nice to see technology making a positive impact on the world.

It's worth noting that all of the projections here depend on the merger going through and T-Mobile likely won't be able to get it done without the extra spectrum from Sprint.

Connecting Heros Initiative

T-Mobile Connecting Heroes InitiativeSource: T-Mobile

The Connecting Heroes Initiative is a program that intends to bring free 5G access to first responders in America. This includes both public and non-profit law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies. It's first-come, first-serve for those that sign up so if you want your agency to get connected on 5G, get registered as soon as possible.

Project 10Million

T-Mobile Project 10MillionSource: T-Mobile

It's been shown that children without access to the internet likely won't receive as good an education as those that do. Of course, this is also linked to income inequality.

Project 10Millions aims to get rid of the homework gap that is caused by millions of children not having access to the internet for school work. The project intends to offer free service, hotspots, and reduced-cost devices to 10 million households over the next five years.

T-Mobile Connect

T-Mobile Connect logoSource: T-Mobile

T-Mobile connect is simply a low-priced phone plan with access to the 5G network. Plans are offered at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text with 2GB of high-speed data. There is also a $25 per month plan with 5GB of data. Interestingly, the plan is set to grow as usage does by increasing the data allowance by 500MB a year for five years. This is by no means a huge amount, but for a low-income family, this can be a lifesaver.

The 5G Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G

Fast, smooth, and cutting edge

Samsung's new flagship, the Galaxy S20+ supports all of T-Mobile's 5G bands including Sprint's 5G bands making it one of the best ways to get connected with 5G. It also has a great set of cameras, a beautiful display with a high refresh rate, and a massive battery.

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