T-Mobile Essentials Review

T-Mobile’s Essentials plan comes with unlimited minutes, texts, and data. While the plan comes at a lower price than T-Mobile’s other postpaid unlimited plans, it also lacks some of the features available on T-Mobile’s premium plans.

Key details

  • Unlimited minutes, texts, and data
  • Low-priority data (decreases speeds during congestion)
  • Mobile hotspot limited to 3G speeds
  • Taxes and fees extra
  • Video throttled to 480p


When T-Mobile’s network is not congested, T-Mobile Essentials subscribers should experience speeds comparable to those experienced by other T-Mobile subscribers. Speeds were generally solid during tests I conducted in and around Boulder, CO:

Speed test results

T-Mobile Essentials subscribers have low-priority data.1 As a result, Essentials subscribers may experience slower speeds than other users on the network during periods of congestion.

Video throttling

While T-Mobile does not throttle regular traffic on the Essentials plan, most video traffic is throttled to about 480p (sometimes called standard definition).

Tests I ran with the app Wehe confirmed that T-Mobile throttles video on the Essentials plan:

Test results showing video throttling for Netflix and Hulu

Mobile hotspot

With the Essentials plan, T-Mobile throttles mobile hotspots to what it refers to as “3G speeds.” As far as I can tell, this means T-Mobile throttles hotspot speeds to a sluggish 600Kbps. While the internet may be usable at 600Kbps, browsing won’t be seamless. Demanding activities like video conferencing won’t be possible.

Here’s a screenshot from a speed test I ran with my laptop connected to a mobile hotspot:

Mobile hotspot speed test showing 520Kbps download speed


The price per line for T-Mobile’s Essentials plan drops as more lines are added to an account. The table below lists plans costs after T-Mobile’s AutoPay discount. Prices for the Magenta and Magenta Plus plan are also shown.

LinesEssentialsMagentaMagenta Plus

Note that the Magenta and Magenta Plus plan includes taxes and fees while the Essentials plan does not. On my last bill, I paid about $5 in taxes and fees for a single line plan:

T-Mobile bill showing about $5 of taxes and fees


  1. As of 9/3/2020, T-Mobile’s website stated, “Essentials customers may notice speeds lower than other customers.” I also ran a test on 9/2/2020 that found a QCI of 7 for regular data use on an Essentials plan. A QCI of 7 is consistent with low-priority data given my understanding of prioritization on T-Mobile’s network.
    Test result showing a QCI of 7