T-Mobile Essentials vs. T-Mobile Magenta

T-Mobile’s Magenta plan includes a lot of features, but it is more expensive than the Essentials plan. For subscribers that want the best possible experience, T-Mobile’s Magenta plan may be the preferred choice.

I don’t think the Essentials plan offers good value. Those considering the Essentials plan may want to look into carriers like Mint Mobile that run over T-Mobile’s network but offer better prices.

Pricing

The Magenta and Essentials plans are priced based on the number of lines on an account. The table below shows monthly prices per line after a discount for automatic payments. Note that T-Mobile includes taxes and fees in the list prices for the Magenta plan. Taxes and fees are extra on the Essentials plan. When I tried the Essentials plan, I paid $4.58 in taxes and fees on a base price of $60.1

LinesEssentialsMagentaMagenta Plus
1$60$70$85
2$45$60$70
3$30$40$47
4$26$35$43
5$24$32$40
6$23$30$38
7n/a$29$37
8n/a$28$36

Speeds

When T-Mobile’s network is not congested, Essentials and Magenta subscribers should experience similar speeds. When T-Mobile’s network is congested, Essentials customers may experience slower speeds than other users on the network. Magenta subscribers avoid the worst of congestion-related speed decreases thanks to a 50GB per month allotment of high-priority data.

Mobile hotspot data

The Magenta plan includes 3GB of full-speed mobile hotspot data each month. After the full-speed data runs out, T-Mobile allows Magenta subscribers to use additional hotspot data at “3G speeds” (by that, T-Mobile means about 600Kbps). Essentials subscribers are allowed to use mobile hotspots, but T-Mobile always throttles Essentials subscribers to a max speed of 600Kbps. Most people will find 600Kbps painfully slow for a mobile hotspot connection.

Other differences

Subscribers with two or more lines on T-Mobile’s Magenta plan are eligible for free access to either Netflix’s Basic plan or the streaming service Quibi.

Essentials or Magenta?

I recommend T-Mobile’s Magenta plan for those who want solid performance. If you’re looking to save some cash and don’t care about mild performance limitations, you may want to skip T-Mobile’s Essentials plan and instead opt for another carrier like Mint Mobile.

Footnotes

  1. Taxes vary based on location. In my case, I was based out of Boulder, Colorado.