T-Mobile Essentials plan is cheap, but not worth it for one line

By | 6th August 2018

  • The new T-Mobile Essentials plan offers a “just the basics” service for $60 per month.
  • However, unlike the T-Mobile One plans, taxes and fees are not included with that $60 price.
  • With that in mind, it’s hard to recommend Essentials when for a few bucks more you can get T-Mobile One.


T-Mobile brought back the concept of unlimited data plans when it introduced the T-Mobile One plan in 2016. It eventually added a premium tier plan called T-Mobile One Plus, and now it’s offering a lower-tier plan: T-Mobile Essentials.

The plan will cost $60 for one line, $30 for the second line, and $15 for each of the next lines (up to six lines total). That means for a family of four the T-Mobile Essentials plan will only cost $30 per line (assuming the payments are made via autopay).

T-Mobile CEO John Legere called out the confusing rate plans of competitor carriers like Verizon and AT&T and pointed to T-Mobile’s plans as being “simple.” However, he neglected to acknowledge that all the major carriers – including T-Mobile – offer multiple “unlimited” plans that are, in fact, limited, which is confusing in itself.

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But aside from the confusion of all the different plans, the T-Mobile Essentials product taken at face value seems like a good deal. However, when you dig down into the asterisks and limitations, you realize that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be if you only need one line. If you need two, it starts to make more sense.

What do you get with T-Mobile Essentials? You get the same nationwide “unlimited” talk, text, and 4G LTE data that T-Mobile One plans receive (throttled after ~50GB of monthly data) and access to T-Mobile Tuesdays promotions. However, Essentials customers will be lower-priority traffic in congested areas, so you might see some slowdown in big cities or during large events.

It's hard to recommend this plan because you're paying only a little less than you would for T-Mobile One and missing so many benefits.

Aside from T-Mobile Tuesdays and the same amount of data, talk, and text, Essentials customers don’t get any of the other perks that T-Mobile One customers get. That means no international data (except in Canada and Mexico where 2G data is free), no free Netflix, and no in-flight Wi-Fi and texting.

Oh, and one more thing: unlike with the One plans, taxes and fees are not included with the Essentials plan. Ouch.

Check out our chart below to see the differences:

 T-Mobile OneT-Mobile Essentials
DataUnlimited (throttled after 50GB)Unlimited (throttled after 50GB)
TalkUnlimitedUnlimited
TextUnlimitedUnlimited
T-Mobile TuesdaysYesYes
Netflix on UsWith two lines or moreNot available
In-Flight Wi-FiOne hour free per monthNot available
In-Flight TextingUnlimitedNot available
Data in Canada & Mexico5GB of 4G LTE, unlimited 3G afterUnlimited 2G speeds
Talk in Canada & MexicoUnlimitedUnlimited
Text in Canada & MexicoUnlimitedUnlimited
Data in other countriesUnlimited at 2G speedsNot available
Talk in other countries$0.20 per minute$0.25 per minute
Text in other countriesUnlimitedUnlimited
Mobile Hotspot (USA)Unlimited at 3G speedsUnlimited at 3G speeds
Data PriorityTop tierLower tier
Number of lines limit126
One line with autopay$70$60 + taxes & fees
One line without autopay$75$65 + taxes & fees
Two lines with autopay$120$90 + taxes & fees
Two lines without autopay$130$100 + taxes & fees

After looking all this over, it’s hard to recommend the Essentials plan for individual users. If you sign up with a single line at $60, after taxes and fees you’re going to be so close to spending the $70 flat rate you would spend on the basic One plan. Those few extra dollars get you prioritized traffic, texting and data in over 200 countries instead of just three, and in-flight texting with one hour of in-flight data each month. And, if you decide to add more lines, you’ll get free Netflix. Seems like a no-brainer to sign up for the basic One plan instead.

But, if you need two lines and don’t care about Netflix or international data, the Essentials plan becomes a decent deal.

If you still want the T-Mobile Essentials plan, it will be available online and in-store starting this Friday, August 10. Click below for more details.