BGR: T-Mobile just got burned by Apple and the iPhone X

Chris Mills, BGR:

Apple announced the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus today. They’re all great phones in many ways, but they have one fatal flaw for T-Mobile and its customers: No support for T-Mobile’s new LTE network.

Right now, T-Mobile is in the early stages of rolling out a brand-new 600MHz network nationwide. The first sites are already online, and T-Mobile is expecting to cover a million square miles by the end of 2017. But the 600MHz network uses a brand-new LTE channel, Band 71, and very few devices support it yet. Sadly for T-Mobile, you can’t add the iPhone 8 or iPhone X to that list.


The specs page for the iPhone X confirms that it supports all the usual North American LTE bands, but not Band 71. However you frame this, it’s a blow for T-Mobile. The iPhone X is widely expected to spark an upgrade “super-cycle” that will see people on the iPhone 6 and 6S spring for the upgrade, since they’re buying a phone that they expect to last for years. That phone — expected to last for at least two years — won’t be compatible with the LTE band that T-Mobile is expecting to be the backbone of its network going forwards.

Here’s the iPhone X specs page, look for yourself. Scroll down to the Cellular and Wireless section. No Band 71 mention.

Wondering if this support is something that can be rolled out in the future via an upgrade, or if it has to be baked in. If I was going to order an iPhone X and used T-Mobile, I would definitely want to know about this before I pressed the Buy button.

Any experts disagree with Chris’s take? Please do let me know.

  • But is it an iPhone thing or is there simply no sufficient supply of band 71 compatible modems? Or is the antenna structure Apple shapes into the metal band around the phone difficult to redesign for 600Mhz?

  • You don’t upgrade a phone with new LTE band support. If it’s not baked into the radio chipset, it’s not there and won’t ever be there.

    Having said that, look: These rollouts take years. T-Mobile has been rolling out Band 12 support for the last several years and it’s nowhere near ubiquitous.

    I was pissed when I got my iPhone 6 three years ago and it lacked Band 12 support (the 700 MHz A-band T-Mo bought from Verizon), because T-Mo had announced the deal earlier that year and I figured my iPhone would have it. Band 12 support didn’t end up coming to the iPhone until the 6S. But where I live, there are like two or three towers (literally) within a half hour drive that support Band 12.

    So Band 71 will be cool once it’s deployed. But that’s gonna take a long time. Deciding to not buy any tech today because it doesn’t support tomorrow technology will always lead you to disappointment and buyer’s remorse. Don’t feed into it.

    • You don’t upgrade a phone with new LTE band support.

      Pretty sure Dave meant future iPhone iteration rather than the traditional definition of upgrade, where a component in an previously manufactured device is swapped out.

      I also agree with your closing statement. Getting wrapped up in tomorrow’s features causes too much brain damage. Need a phone? Get a phone. Something like that.

  • Vasu Tummala

    As @flargh:disqus said, the Band 12 rollout that started in 2014 is still happening three years later and still hasn’t made it here in New Orleans (medium market city).

    T-Mo’s Band 71 acquisition was announced in Summer 2016, by then the antenna design and modem for this years iPhone were already designed, so it was too late. It was also too late for the Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8. People are still waiting to hear about the Pixel 2, but it may have been too late of an announcement for that phone too. The LG V30 will have it though, but that’s it so far. Samsung said they’d have something this year that’d support Band 71, but they’d have to release a new model or variant to do that.

    There’s a video that shows the rollout here:

    Most of the country, including markets like New York, LA, Houston, Miami, Boston, and DC won’t see it until Mid 2019 at the earliest.

    For people that upgrade their phones every year or two, this is a non-issue. For those that keep their phones longer it’s unfortunate, but there will still be other bands for their phones to use.

    • Phuq_Me

      Wasn’t announced in summer of 2016 since the auction didn’t end until spring of 2017. Auction had barely started in summer of 2016. get facts straight before posting. T-Mobile literally only got their licenses for band 71 from the FCC within the last 3 months

  • rick gregory

    Yeah, this is a non-issue for any t-mobil customer who currently has good coverage (voice and LTE). In Seattle, coverage is fine, LTE is ubiquitous and performs well…. and like 99% of people I have no clue which band my phone uses and I don’t care. AS with most BGR stuff, this is much clickbait about nothing.

  • freediverx

    This is a sensationalist post. Few if any current smartphones support this new band, and it’s going to take a long time before T-Mobiel deploys it widely anyway. Tone down the clickbait, huh?

  • Mo

    Boy Genius Report started out being a Blackberry enthusiast site, correct? I guess they never recovered.