Phone: 800-866-2453

Web: www.t-mobile.com

Type: Digital (GSM)

SERVICE PLANS:

"Regional Rate"

$49.99: 3,000 anytime minutes, then 35 cents/minute.

No long-distance or roaming charges in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington; elsewhere, roaming adds 49 cents/minute and long-distance adds 20 cents/minute.

"National Get More America"

$19.99: 60 anytime minutes, 500 weekend minutes, then 45 cents/minute.

$29.99: 300 anytime minutes, unlimited weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$39.99: 600 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$39.99: 1,000 minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$59.99: 1,000 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

No roaming or long-distance charges.

"Family Time"

$49.99: 400 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$69.99: 800 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 35 cents/minute.

Plans cover two phones; additional phones, up to five total, add $10 each. No roaming or long-distance charges. Free calls to other T-Mobile phones.

Messaging/Web/etc.

Text messages 5 cents each, or $2.99 for 300 messages, $6.99 for 1,000 messages. Web access costs $4.99 and requires GPRS phone; download speeds up to 54 kbps.

Fine print

One-year contract required, but can change plans without penalty. 14-day trial. "Weekend" means 12:01 a.m. Sat.-11:59 p.m. Sun.; "night" means 9:01 p.m.-6:59 a.m. Prepaid "T-Mobile to Go" service available, starting at $10 for 30 minutes or 30 days and $25 for 90 minutes or 90 days.

Smartphones offered

BlackBerry 6230, 6710, 7100t, 7230 and 7730; HP iPaq h6315; Nokia N-Gage QD; PalmOne Treo 600; Sidekick II; T-Mobile Pocket PC 2003 Phone Edition

Real-world cost estimates (See below for explanation)

1: Light use (30 minutes): $19.99

2: Moderate use (three hours): $29.99

3: Heavy use (eight hours): $39.99

4: Land-line replacement (20 hours): $59.99

5: Chatty couple (six hours, two phones): $49.99

REVIEWER'S NOTES:

T-Mobile, last year's weakest performer, closed the gap a bit this year. We did find areas where the signal was dramatically weaker than other carriers, but fewer than a year ago; this is real progress. If your own calls don't extend to rural areas and you find that T-Mobile's plans meet your use better than those of competitors, you might find that occasional static or dropouts are acceptable tradeoffs.

-- J.B. II