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T-Mobile customers: Don’t buy a Galaxy Note 8

Updated Aug 23rd, 2017 7:18PM EDT
Galaxy Note 8 T-Mobile pre-order,
Image: Samsung

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Samsung has officially taken the wraps off its worst-kept secret, the Galaxy Note 8. It’s a fantastic phone in its own right, and should be a much-needed return to business as usual for Samsung. But for anyone committed to staying on T-Mobile for the forseeable future, buying Samsung’s newest phablet would be a massive mistake.

You see, T-Mobile said last week that two devices compatible with its new 600MHz network would be launched by the end of the year — one from Samsung and one from LG. With our best guessing hats on, we predicted that would be the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30. But sadly, we were wrong.

A T-Mobile spokesperson has confirmed that the Galaxy Note 8 will not be 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. It’s particularly bad considering the LG V30, another top-tier Android flagship, will hopefully have Band 71 compatibility. We’re also hoping that the coming iPhone 8 will work on band 71 as well.

If you’re insistent on getting a Note 8 on T-Mobile right now, there is one clever move you can make. T-Mobile is offering the Note 8 on its Jump On Demand lease program for $0 down, $39 a month. With Jump on Demand, you can get a Note 8 and hang onto it for six months, until a good Band 71 compatible phone comes out. It’ll cost you the same as buying a brand-new Note 8 right now and reselling it in six months, but with far less hassle.

Preorders open at midnight Eastern Time tonight here, and anyone who preorders or purchases before September 24th will get a free Samsung Gear 360 Camera as well.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.