T-Mobile Offers Free Phones to Challenge Verizon iPhone

T-Mobile is making any and all of its phones free Feb. 11 and 12, including handsets based on Google's Android, Windows Phone 7 and other platforms.

T-Mobile is offering all its phones for free Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, an attempt to lure users to choose any of 30 handsets based on Google's Android, Windows Phone 7 and other platforms.

While the U.S. No. 4 wireless carrier is billing the two-day offer as a Valentine's Day promotion, the move seems timed to temper some of the enthusiasm over Verizon Wireless' iPhone 4, which launches Feb. 10 for $199.99.

Verizon said Feb. 3 it pre-sold more iPhones in two hours than any first day launch in the company's history. Analysts believe Verizon could ship 10-20 million iPhones this year alone.

Touting a "Valentine's offer to fall in love with," T-Mobile said it will make its phones free this Friday and Saturday at T-Mobile retail stores with qualifying plan on two-year contract.

That offer is good for all T-Mobile handsets including currently available 4G smartphones such as the Android 2.2-based T-Mobile myTouch 4G and T-Mobile G2.

The Windows Phone7-based HTC HD7, RIM BlackBerry Bold and Curve handsets, as well as handsets from Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and others are also available. All phones will be available while supplies last.

T-Mobile's fine print notes there are no rain checks and the offer is good at "participating locations only."

At 33.8 million U.S. subscribers, T-Mobile has less than one-third of the market dominated by Verizon and AT&T, which command 93 million-plus and 92 million-plus users, respectively.

T-Mobile finds itself duly challenged by the fact that both of these carriers offer the iPhone, while T-Mobile's best phones to date appear to be Android-based handsets made by HTC, Samsung Motorola and RIM BlackBerrys.

T-Mobile does have the cachet of being the first U.S. carrier to sell an Android handset, the G1, in 2008. However, Verizon's popular Droid line and the prominence of the Samsung Galaxy S handsets from all major U.S. carriers have made this distinction a prehistoric footnote.