T-Mobile has said that when it comes to selling tablets it's just getting started, and May 19 it showed off more of its plan to get consumers buying 4G LTE-enabled units.
At Walmart stores, T-Mobile is now selling a 4G-enabled tablet (with another to come) that addresses part of the reason consumers have historically stuck with WiFi-only units: the cost of 4G-enabled devices.
The Apollo Brands' Trio AX Quad Core tablet, now at Walmart, can access T-Mobile's 4G network, runs Android and features a 7.85-inch HD display, 16GB of on-device storage, two-camera vision, a quad-core, 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of memory, a microSD slot and a price of $179.
Coming in June, an HP Slate 7 HD will likewise offer access to T-Mobile's 4G network, along with a 7-inch HD display with wide-angle viewing, access to Google Play, 16GB of on-device storage, two-camera vision, 1GB of memory, an SD slot and a price of $229.
Dough Chartier, T-Mobile senior vice president, described the majority of tablet owners as "trapped in the WiFi zone."
"First, there's the extra cost of cellular-enabled tablets. Then there's the added cost of the big three carriers' expensive data plans and the danger of overages," Chartier said in a May 19 statement. "It doesn't have to be this way."
Those who purchase the Walmart tablets can take advantage of T-Mobile's offer of 200MB of free data per month for life—an initiative dubbed "Operation Tablet Freedom" that it introduced in October.
T-Mobile is also offering Walmart customers two exclusive data pass options: $35 for 3.5GB of high-speed data or $50 for 5GB of high-speed data. Daily, weekly and monthly options are also available, starting at $10 per month for 1.2GB of high-speed data each month (that 0.2GB takes into consideration the free 200MB).
Customers will never see an overage fee; once they exceed the data limit, T-Mobile downgrades them to a slower network.
On April 12, T-Mobile began allowing subscribers to add tablets to postpaid service plans for no additional fee (AT&T, for example, charges $10 a month to connect a tablet to one's cellular data pool) and began charging WiFi-only prices for 4G-enabled tablets. It lowered the price of the LTE-enabled, 16GB Apple iPad Air, for example, from $630 to $499—the price of the WiFi-only model.
Announcing that deal, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said his company was "launching a full-on assault against restrictions and pain points that keep tablet owners from experiencing life beyond the WiFi zone."
Such "un-carrier" tactics, as T-Mobile calls its industry-rankling moves, have been effective. During the first quarter of this year, T-Mobile added more new subscribers than Verizon, AT&T and Sprint combined, and sold 6.9 million smartphones.
Tablets, however, were a weak spot. While AT&T added 313,000 tablets during its first quarter, and Sprint and Verizon each added more than 500,000 tablets, T-Mobile sold just under 67,000.
"While our competitors have been living off tablets, we're just getting started and see it as a huge opportunity," Legere said during the May 1 earnings call. "We expect our momentum to accelerate as the word gets out about Operation Tablet Freedom. Stay tuned."