The Galaxy Note 8 has barely been on sale for a month, but that constitutes approximately 12 years in smartphone lives. T-Mobile has had the best deal on the Note 8 ever since it came out: a buy-one-get-one-free that lets you get two Note 8s for $900, or a free phone if you play your cards right.
But unfortunately, the gravy train won’t last forever, and the deal comes to an end tomorrow. If you’re holding out for an Android phone (or two) this year, now’s the time to strike.
The deal does come with a few strings attached. You have to buy a Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan, and activate a new line of T-Mobile One or Simply Unlimited, if you’re an existing Simple Choice customer. Once you meet those conditions, you can buy a second Note 8, Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+, and you’ll get a prepaid MasterCard to cover the cost of the second device.
The new line of service only has to be active until you get the rebate card, so you’ll only be paying for it for a month or two at worst. Having to pay for both devices on an EIP doesn’t cost any more in the long run, but it does tie you in to two years of device payments to T-Mobile.
The deal itself is undeniably good value — even if you only want the one phone, you can sell the second device for close to the RRP, and get a virtually free phone from T-Mobile.
The bigger concern is whether you actually want to buy a Note 8 on T-Mobile right now. You see, the Note 8 isn’t compatible with LTE Band 71, the new 600MHz frequency that T-Mobile turned on last week. Compatibility with 600MHz is a big deal, assuming you like actually using your phone when you’re out and about. Lower frequencies travel further and penetrate buildings better, which all adds up to superior coverage, especially inside buildings or in rural areas.
Verizon has relied heavily on its 700MHz spectrum for years, and it’s a big part of the reason it keeps winning coverage awards. T-Mobile’s 600MHz network promises to be just as good or better, but you can only take advantage of it if your phone is compatible. 600MHz compatibility is only going to get more important as time goes on. T-Mobile is planning on having 600MHz coverage over 1,000,000 square miles by the end of this year, and by the end of 2018, it will play a big part in its national coverage.
But none of that helps at all if your phone doesn’t support band 71 — and the Galaxy Note 8 doesn’t. If you buy a Note 8 right now, you’re tying yourself into a year or two of sub-standard service, which just doesn’t make sense. The LG V30, which T-Mobile also has a good deal on, is compatible with Band 71, so that’s an option well worth considering.