Problems with iPhone 4 on T-Mobile Network — I Need Your Advice!

Any T-Mobile customers among my readers? I need some advice! I’m having major problems with my iPhone4 on T-Mobile’s network.

We switched to TMobile several weeks ago with the goal of saving money on our phone service. Given the price differences with AT&T (our previous carrier), it seemed like a no-brainer.

At first all was well. But over the last three weeks, my phone has been having more and more issues to the point that it’s all but dysfunctional now.

I have an iPhone 4, which was originally an AT&T phone, but was unlocked a year ago and now has a TMobile SIM card in it.

Here are my issues: My phone “falls off” the network all the time. My texts don’t go thru. My calls don’t go thru. I have to restart my phone a dozen or more times a day.

I called T-Mobile’s customer service line and was transferred to their iPhone department (love that there’s a whole department just for iPhones!). They had me reset the phone, checked the network coverage and conferred with their “engineers”.

Nothing worked. After much more back and forth — and several additional calls, I was finally told, “Well, unfortunately there is nothing we can do for you. This is a known problem with iPhone4. You should have been told this when you switched at the store.”

We were most definitely not told this when we switched.

So now I’m between a rock and a hard place: Either I pay to upgrade to a 5S – which I’d really rather not do because of the cost involved (especially when my 4 was still working perfectly well at AT&T) or I switch back to AT&T — or some other mobile carrier.

T-Mobile’s iPhone “specialist” kindly offered to upgrade me to a 5S, explaining that “it’s really not that expensive because you can put it on payments of $20 a month for 24 months.” (“Not expensive”. “Payments”. Ha! Clearly she hasn’t read my blog! 😉 )

Anyway, my husband went into our local T-Mobile store yesterday with my phone to try to get to the bottom of this mess and the worker there said, “Oh no. I’ve never heard of that. An unlocked iPhone 4 is fine on our network. You just need a new SIM card.”

He installed a new SIM card yesterday, but lo and behold, I’m still having the same problems. Texts don’t go through. Phone calls aren’t received. It’s a mess. Already this morning I’ve rebooted my phone four times! Talk about inefficient.

So, here are my three questions:

1. Has anyone successfully used a unlocked TMobile iPhone 4 on the TMobile network? Any tricks for getting it to work? The “specialist” suggested that we could try locking my phone to the TMobile network — but warned that it “probably won’t work anyway.” (Hardly a ringing endorsement for that plan of action.)

2. What other inexpensive carriers are out there that you like and trust? I know we talked about this last year in this post about saving money on cell phone service — but I’m wondering what’s currently working for you guys.

3. I really, really don’t want to switch to an Android or Windows phone, since I’m a creature of habit — and love the “work flow” I have set up on my iPhone. That said, I also really, really don’t want to pay $729 for a new phone! So… if you have an Android or Windows phone that you love, please tell me all about it.

Thanks you guys! Hopefully we can crowd-source a solution to this most vexing situation!


  1. We switched to TING last summer and love it. We cut our monthly costs in 1/2. The only problem is that they don’t use SIM cards, so you probably would have to buy a new phone. They use the SPRINT network so you’d have to find out if that network is solid in your area. It’s not a prepaid plan, but a post paid plan. You pay as you use. You can put in alerts and stops if you get past a predetermined amount of minutes, texts or data. If you have wifi, the data will be minimally used. The don’t have “unlimited” plans, but the bucket ranges are very reasonably priced.

  2. If you’re willing to consider Android, check out Republic Wireless. They have some of the lowest rates around. Their business and technology model is unique, so make sure you understand how they operate and if it will meet your needs. I am seriously considering them as my next carrier.

  3. my husband has a pre-paid plan through Wal-Mart. It’s $40/month for text, data and phone. He’s been using the plan for over a year and hasn’t had any issues. The customer service isn’t great, but for the $, it’s worth it! Good luck! I can’t imagine how frustrated you must be!

  4. Hi,

    since the phone was on AT&T, have you looked into one of their virtual operators? Cricket wireless just purchased aio wireless and they fall under the AT&T umbrella. My husband and I have been on aio for 5 months now and the service was seamless and the price was cut in half. Another provider on the AT&T network is H20 wireless. My biggest suggestion is to look at providers that use AT&T’s network and that have decent coverage in your neck of the woods. I suggest going back to AT&T’s network because you didn’t have service issues on it as opposed the frustration you are now getting with tmobile.

  5. I don’t own an iPhone but with my android the coverage in my house was awful. you can check your coverage with this map. we got a booster (from t-mobile for free) to put in our house that almost always gives us 4G now when we never even had service.

  6. We use Consumer Cellular (they use the ATT network) and have been very pleased with the services.

  7. Have you had any luck Googling the problem? Sometimes other users are the best help. I understand exactly why you don’t want to pay for a new phone when the one you have was working just fine. I love t-mobile (4 phones, unlimited data, texting, & minutes for $100 can’t be beat – not to mention FREE data when overseas), but I would be terribly frustrated with the problems you are having too. You can also try getting them to push you up some levels for service, beyond the initial help, and maybe somebody can figure it out?

    Good luck.

  8. I have no advice for you, except that I did the same thing. Unlocked my husband’s iphone 4 and put in a T-mobile SIM card and it’s working perfectly. So, I feel like you shouldn’t give up. Maybe you could look into buying an old iphone4 online for cheap and start all over? I don’t know…

  9. If your phone is unlocked then go for the AT&T options! I am now using an unlocked t-mobile Android with a Net10 Sim card (be careful some companies have dual servive and you have to be careful to by a Sim card for AT&T towers. ) Net10, Cricket, AIO – there are many! If this too fails then you will have to ditch the phone.

  10. Just did the same switch also a few weeks ago! Were you listening to Clark Howard??:) I was told there was no way my iphone 4 would work on their network if it was locked previously. Since they were 3 years old I sold them for $150 each and did not feel too horrible about the upgrade. We’d still be saving $60 a month.

  11. Aleksandr says

    You may have run into an issue where your AT&T iPhone’s radio does not have the frequency bands most commonly used by T-Mobile for 3G. AT&T uses 1900MHz, T-Mobile uses 1700/2100MHz band. T-Mobile does have some 1900MHz areas, but they are few.

    If you want to keep your phone, I’d suggest switching to one of the lower cost AT&T MVNOs, such as H20, Black Wireless, Cricket, StraightTalk (get AT&T SIM), etc. If your data needs are modest, you should be fine. StraightTalk gives you 3GB for $45/mo.

Leave a Comment