T-Mobile Signal Finally Fails On My Unlocked iPhone

Once upon a time, T-Mobile and the iPhone were friends. Even though AT&T had exclusive rights to the iPhone, T-Mobile was a significantly cheaper, friendlier, and less busy carrier that also used GSM. T-Mobile welcomed the owners of unlocked iPhones with open antennae. But that golden era is over, reader Brielle tells us. She’s been using iPhones on TMo for four years now, and is beginning to experience problems with her signal. It just so happens that her area has recently been upgraded for 4G service…right around the time her iPhone’s signal crapped out. They’re happy to sell her a new 4G Android phone, though.

I had been happily using my iPhone 3GS with T-Mobile for around two
years now, and another 2 or so years prior with a first gen iPhone.

Because of the lack of compatible 3G service, I had to use EDGE which
is perfectly fine by me.

Around the beginning of this year, I began having serious signal
issues with my iPhone 3GS on T-Mobile’s network.

My phone would spend 50% or more of its time with “No Service”, and I
could confirm the same behavior on other iPhones including my first
gen and an unlocked Blackberry Tour.

Of course, when I borrowed a 3G Android phone from T-Mobile from a
co-worker, all worked fine.

First call to support in Jan resulted in a trouble ticket being
opened, and them discovering a problem with the local tower, which
they claimed to have fixed.

Due to being extremely busy, I couldn’t follow up for a few months. I
started bugging support once again in March/April about the lack of
service. Got the run around, various admissions of there could be a
problem, but most likely not but they’ll still look into it.

Finally, service got so bad I was down to around 10% of the time
having an actual signal. Called support again, and got an actual
engineer on the phone who was able to tell me exactly what kind of
changes they’ve been doing in my area.

Low and behold, the exact same time when my service went into the
toilet was when they ‘upgraded’ my area for ‘4G’ service.

But, unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to help me any further with
this issue because the iPhone is not a supported phone, and I should
have it checked out because it is most likely having hardware issues
because the service is working fine in my area. There was also some
mutterings about how EDGE service is obsolete and likely to go away
soon enough.

But, on the bright side, they are more then willing to sell me a brand
new Android phone with 3G service to replace my obviously broken

Fast forward to last week – I’m pissed off, and angry, so I order a
StraightTalk AT&T SIM card and the unlimited service no-contract

Got it yesterday, shoved it in my phone, ported my number, and the
phone has 4 bars of service, 3G works fine, as does EDGE.

Some quick calls to friends in NJ and even to Texas report the exact
same problems with their iPhones on T-Mobile.

T-Mobile seems to be throwing iPhone users who are stuck on EDGE under
the bus in their effort to ‘upgrade’ to ‘4G’. Rather then admit
they’re upgrades are fouling up EDGE, they’re blaming hardware
problems with people’s iPhones, most likely in an effort to sell more
Android phones.

!@#$%^! But, what do you expect from the only major carrier without an

Any other iPhone/T-Mobile customers out there experiencing similar problems? Your best option is to do exactly what Brielle did: buy a SIM from StraightTalk and enjoy luxurious, commitment-free 3G access.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.