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.
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
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.
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.