T-Mobile's MetroPCS will finally start selling Apple's iPhone tomorrow – in Florida, at least.
The nation's third-largest carrier said its prepaid service provider will offer the iPhone 6s for $649 and the 6s Plus for $749. MetroPCS will also carry the iPhone SE with a price tag of $349, and the iPhone 5s will be available for $199.
The phones will initially be available only in the Sunshine State, T-Mobile said, "with nationwide availability coming soon." MetroPCS plans start at $30 per month.
The news underscores T-Mobile's increasing focus on prepaid users in a market that's grown significantly more competitive over the last year. T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in April that MetroPCS will open 1,000 new dedicated outlets this year, adding to the 7,500 that are already operating. And in January T-Mobile launched a promotion offering 22 percent to 50 percent off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing to users of Sprint, Virgin Mobile or Boost who port their numbers to MetroPCS.
T-Mobile reported a record 807,000 net prepaid customer additions during the first quarter of 2016, outpacing even AT&T, which enjoyed 500,000 prepaid net additions during the period. Meanwhile, Sprint lost a net 264,000 prepaid users during the quarter, and Verizon said goodbye to 177,000 net prepaid customers.
Prepaid users have become more valuable to carriers as the revenue gap between prepaid and postpaid continues to close. Increased competition appears to have driven down overall postpaid ARPU over the last three years, while prepaid ARPU has made modest gains. MoffettNathanson estimates indicate T-Mobile has seen its postpaid ARPU fall from $54.07 to $46.05 since the first quarter of 2013, for instance, while prepaid ARPU has risen from $35.96 to $37.58.
Sprint hopes to regain its footing in the prepaid market later this year with a major overhaul of its Virgin Mobile brand, which it promises will be "a disruptive force in the wireless industry." But MetroPCS has laid claim to a significant weapon by adding the iPhone to its smartphone lineup.
- see this T-Mobile web page
Sprint shuffles front office in advance of Virgin relaunch
Sprint Prepaid loses retail shelf space in advance of Virgin relaunch
Verizon's Shammo: TracFone is 'our prepaid product'
Verizon emphasizes cost cuts amid fairly solid Q1 earnings, revenues of $22B
Sprint's retreat from Virgin and prepaid underscore strength of MetroPCS and Cricket
TracFone loses 58,000 customers while parent América Móvil faces regulatory challenges in Mexico
T-Mobile and AT&T are killing the gap between prepaid and postpaid