T-Mobile's 5G Magenta plans FAQ: Is Magenta Max worth making the switch?
T-Mobile is upgrading its Magenta plan with more premium data and more hotspot data. It's also introducing a new Magenta Max plan to replace its current Magenta Plus plan. This plan adds unlimited premium data as well as upgrading mobile hotspot data to 40GB. T-Mobile is calling Magenta Max a 5G consumer smartphone plan so customers don't get slowed down even with very heavy usage. This is a great upgrade for the largest 5G network with the fastest overall speeds, but is it reason enough to switch to T-Mobile's new plans?
How much do they cost?
The updated Magenta plan will cost the same as the current Magenta plan. For a single line, the cost is $70 per month for one line including taxes and fees. Two lines are $60 each and with a current promotion, you can get a third line free bringing the price down to $40 per line. After the promotion, the price will be $47 per line for three lines.
The Magenta Max plan mirrors the price of Magenta Plus at $85 for one line and coming down to $70 per line with two lines. The same promotion for a free third line still applies and brings the price down to $47 per line. Like the Magenta plan, taxes and fees are included.
Didn't T-Mobile already have 5G?
All T-Mobile plans include access to 5G for no extra cost and many of the best T-Mobile phones already support 5G. This includes its full 5G network whether you connect to low-band, mid-band, or even mmWave. These new T-Mobile plans aren't necessary for 5G but are designed to allow customers to make the most of 5G. Verizon and AT&T still don't offer 5G on all of their plans and Verizon still distinguishes its UWB mmWave 5G network from its nationwide 5G network.
What is premium data?
Depending on where you are, you may be connected to a cell phone tower with hundreds if not more active data connections. At a certain point, the tower is unable to handle all of these connections at once and must make some requests wait in line until some bandwidth opens up. Most noticeable on low-cost MVNOs, having your connection dropped to a lower priority can make your connection feel sluggish or unresponsive. This is commonly referred to as deprioritization.
Premium data allows your data to get to the front of the line quicker and even cut in front of lower priority traffic. Premium data has allowed carriers to offer unlimited service to more customers while still effectively limiting cheaper plans. Sometimes this works out for customers in rural areas where the towers will very rarely be overcapacity, but in densely populated areas, it can be a real pain for heavy users that have run out of premium data.
Do you get free Netflix?
The Magenta plan offers Netflix Basic for free if you have two or more lines. That's SD quality on a single screen at once. Magenta Max on the other hand offers Netflix Basic for a single line and upgrades it to Netflix Standard with HD on two screens when you add more lines. You can also upgrade your Netflix subscription and the difference will be added to your bill.
Are taxes and fees included?
Currently, T-Mobile's Magenta and Magenta Plus plans include taxes and fees and this will carry over to the upgrades plan. This inclusion helps people understand exactly how much they'll pay each month and further demonstrates that value of T-Mobile's plans compared to its competitors. The entry-level Essentials plan still does not include these fees so be sure you're getting the best deal when you shop for a T-Mobile plan.
How much data does Magenta come with?
Magenta now comes with 100GB of premium data, up from 50GB. While most people today won't need that much data, it's good that T-Mobile is getting ready for the future as people continue to use more data all the time and 5G capable phones will allow for people to use more data. You may see greater data usage due to videos and music streaming at higher quality with the extra bandwidth of 5G. People may also be more inclined to use their data connections for things they might have switched to Wi-Fi for before thanks to the faster speeds.
Magenta now comes with 5GB of high-speed hotspot data while using either LTE or 5G, up from 3GB. If you use all of your hotspot data, T-Mobile will slow your speeds down to 3G. This should be enough for most web browsing, social media, and messaging. Using all of your hotspot data will not affect the speed of your standard phone data, however.
Is Magenta Max the same as Plus?
Magenta Max is replacing Magenta Plus. Magenta Plus was T-Mobile's previous top plan and it came with a competitive 30GB of hotspot data and 50GB of premium data. Most of the other details about the plans are the same including the price. If you are a current Magenta Plus subscriber, it's a great idea to move to Magenta Max with its 40GB of hotspot data and truly unlimited premium data.
Is Magenta Max it truly unlimited?
Magenta Max has no premium data limits. Even if you use 200GB or more, you'll still get full data speeds even during congestion. If you need a ton of data with no limitations, Magenta Max makes a lot of sense. This is great for people that travel frequently and want to use their phone's connection heavily without losing top data speeds even in congested conditions.
You'll still be limited by a cell tower's capabilities but at least you'll know that you're not waiting in the back of the line for data.
Is 40GB enough for hotspot data?
Magenta Max comes with 40GB of hotspot data while T-Mobile's previous top plan, Magenta Plus, came with 30GB of data. Even 30GB was generally enough for most people that occasionally use their hotspot data with a tablet or laptop. How much data you use will be completely dependent on the type of things you use your devices for. On Netflix, for example, one hour of HD video uses around 3GB of data while SD only uses about 1GB. Accessing work documents or apps like Slack won't use nearly as much.
Some people use their hotspot data all the time whether they want to work from a place without Wi-Fi or have an unreliable home internet connection. Even if 40GB isn't enough for you, T-Mobile doesn't cut you off but limits you to a 3G speed hotspot. At around 3Mbps, you will still be able to do basic browsing and messaging. It's great that T-Mobile has upgraded the high-speed data cap, but most people probably didn't use the full 30GB before.
It's worth noting that both AT&T and Verizon only offer 30GB of hotspot data on their top plans. It still doesn't match the 50GB and 100GB packages that Sprint used to offer, but it's not a bad option for people that need the extra data and T-Mobile's improved coverage.
Can a phone even stream 4K?
Magenta Max unlocks video streaming to 4K compared to 1080p on Magenta Plus. Many new Android phones have 1440p or higher resolution displays and more than enough power to play video streams at that resolution. While not all streaming apps support such a high resolution on their mobile apps, YouTube is one that has been upgraded with support. If you have a phone with enough power, you can now play 4K video.
Most people won't be able to see much if any difference between 1080p and 4K on a phone display, but on a larger display on a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the extra resolution and higher bitrate can help you get the most out of your phone. If you watch 60fps gaming content on YouTube, you know how much of a difference resolution can make for image clarity. Still, this is more of T-Mobile's way of saying you won't be limited to a lower resolution of any kind.
Should you upgrade your T-Mobile plan?
Most T-Mobile users won't notice much of a difference when it comes to premium data since the old 50GB limit was already quite a bit more than most people use. For current Magenta or Magenta Plus customers, the update is a great reason to stay with T-Mobile. For T-Mobile Essentials customers, there's not much more reason to upgrade to the new plans compared to the old plans unless you're getting a new phone. It's also made more appetizing because T-Mobile says you can keep the current discounts you already have on your line.
Should you switch from AT&T or Verizon?
AT&T's middle Unlimited Extra plan costs a bit more than Magenta and will come with half of the premium data but comes with 15GB of data compared to 5GB on Magenta. Still, T-Mobile's 3G speeds are higher once you've used up that data compared to AT&T's 2G speeds. AT&T's Unlimited Elite upgrades the premium data to 100GB and upgrades the hotspot to 30GB but falls short of Magenta Max's unlimited premium data and 40GB hotspot.
Verizon has three unlimited plans that compete with T-Mobile's new plans. The Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited each comes with 50GB of premium data and 720p streaming. Compared this to Magenta's 100GB and 1080p streaming. Magenta is cheaper than either plan but only comes with 5GB of hotspot data compared to the 15GB you get with Play More or Do More. Get More takes it up to 30GB of hotspot data which still comes in under T-Mobile with 40GB.
If you have good T-Mobile coverage, you can get more data with better quality video for less. Switching is easy and you can keep your old phone number when you do. You also get access to T-Mobile's impressive 5G network with much greater coverage than either AT&T or Verizon.
The 5G Carrier
Great 5G coverage with the plans to use it
T-Mobile's plans are designed to make the most of its 5G network with plenty of premium data and hotspot data for most people.
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When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.