Just Like Magic, iPhone Owners Can Now Test Drive T-Mobile’s Network for FREE (Here’s How)

T Mobile E Sim Test Drive on iPhone 12 Credit: T-Mobile / YouTube
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Even if you’re unhappy with your current carrier, one of the biggest hassles in changing over is knowing whether the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Now, however, T-Mobile has come up with a really clever way to let you easily hop over the fence, so you can check up the grass up close.

While T-Mobile has offered various forms of test-drive programs for its network in the past, offering free trials of its service in different regions, the “Un-carrier” has now come up with a unique new way to let potential customers get a 30-day test drive on their iPhone simply by installing an app.

The magic comes thanks to Apple’s support for eSIM technology. Introduced with the iPhone XS and XR models back in 2018, eSIM is an internal SIM card that can be provisioned through software, eliminating the need to purchase a physical SIM card and insert it into your iPhone.

Even better, the eSIM that’s now found in all current iPhone models is part of the Dual SIM Standby (DSDS) feature that allows you to use your iPhone on more than one carrier.

Although AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to support eSIM on the iPhone, it was actually T-Mobile that first made it easy to set up an eSIM, providing an iOS app that could walk the user through setting up a secondary line and programming the eSIM without the need to ever visit a store or even call a customer service rep.

By comparison, other carriers required in-store activations and scanning a QR code to set up the eSIM.

Now, T-Mobile has taken that same idea and applied it to its Network Test Drive program, allowing anybody with an iPhone XS/XR or newer to simply download the free Network Test Drive app and set up a free 30-day trial account with 30GB of data to burn through.

It’s a big shift from what T-Mobile was doing previously, which was sending out a mobile hotspot to users so that they could try out its network by connecting their smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi. Needless to say, even though this could help potential customers get a basic feel for the carrier’s network performance, it didn’t provide nearly the same experience as having your iPhone actually running directly on the T-Mobile network.

How T-Mobile’s Test Drive Works

What T-Mobile is actually doing here is using the Dual-SIM feature of the iPhone to set up a secondary line, so the technology isn’t any different from what it’s been offering paying customers since late 2018.

However, in this case, there’s absolutely no obligation. In fact, the T-Mobile Network Test Drive app is distinct from the normal T-Mobile app, so there’s no risk of accidentally signing up for service. It’s a completely free offer for 30 days of T-Mobile service, with up to 30GB of data, with basically no strings attached.

Further, since it’s a secondary line, you’ll be able to keep on using your current iPhone and phone number without any interruption. The T-Mobile test drive adds a second, temporary number. It’s a fully functioning number that can be used for unlimited calls and texts, but you don’t have to use it at all if you don’t want to. Your primary number from your current carrier will continue to be used by default unless you specifically switch over to using the temporary one.

You also won’t be able to keep the temporary number once the trial expires, so you won’t want to start handing it out to anybody. T-Mobile presumably figures that if you do end up switching, you’ll port your primary number over anyway, making the temporary number irrelevant.

At the end of the 30-day trial, the T-Mobile eSIM will be automatically deactivated, and you’ll seamlessly go back to using only your current provider.

The only real catch is that you’ll need a relatively recent iPhone model to take advantage of the offer, since pre-2018 iPhone models don’t support eSIM. Here’s the list of compatible iPhone models:

  • iPhone XS / XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro / Pro Max
  • 2020 iPhone SE (2nd Generation)
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro / Pro Max

Since T-Mobile naturally wants to put its best foot forward here, it also notes that iPhone 12 users will be able to “experience T-Mobile’s blazing fast 5G network,” during the Test Drive.

For obvious reasons, you won’t be able to sign up for the Test Drive if you’re already a T-Mobile customer, but it also appears that anybody who recently tried a T-Mobile Test Drive may not be able to take advantage of this newer and more streamlined trial just yet.

T-Mobile notes that “former Test Drive customers must wait six (6) months for eligible [sic] to try another test drive.”

How to Take T-Mobile for a Spin

You can find all the relevant details in T-Mobile’s new support article, but it appears you can be up and running in only a few minutes, without the need to provide anything more than the most basic contact info. Here’s how:

  1. Download the T-Mobile Network Test Drive app from the App Store and open it.
  2. Confirm the prompts to opt in to Network Test Drive notifications.
  3. Provide your name, email, and a contact phone number when asked.
  4. Review the instructions and terms and tap Next
  5. Tap Begin Installation when prompted to install the T-Mobile trial profile.
  6. Tap Continue.
  7. Tap Add Cellular Plan.

At this point, you’ll have a secondary line up and running on your iPhone. However, you’ll still be using the service from your current provider until you specifically switch over to T-Mobile’s, which can be done in the Cellular section of the iPhone Settings app.

For the trial, T-Mobile recommends you select the secondary line for Cellular Data so that your surfing and streaming will run over the T-Mobile network. Your current network provider should be left as the primary line for phone calls, and also to ensure that your main number is still used for iMessage and FaceTime.

Technically, there’s nothing you need to do once the trial ends, as the second T-Mobile account will just stop working, so everything will automatically switch back to using your primary account. It’s a good idea to take a trip into your iPhone’s Cellular settings again just to clean things up, however, removing the inert T-Mobile profile, so you can make room for another secondary line in the future.

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