T-Mobile is pushing a number of new app features that aim to minimize the friction for potential customers to switch, all thanks to eSIM technology. There is a new version of the existing Test Drive program called Network Pass, which allows people to try out T-Mobile’s network for an unlimited period of three months. Another new feature called Easy Switch aims to streamline the process of setting up a new account with T-Mobile using eSIM. They’re all part of an update to the company’s app coming to iOS today, with an Android update to follow “soon.”
T-Mobile already supports switching via eSIM, which is just a digital version of the physical SIM card you probably have in your phone. The Justice Department even made sure that T-Mobile would support eSIM by making it a condition of the merger with Sprint. But this goes a step further than just supporting the technology.
Previously, you had to sign up for a subscription first and then follow a few extra steps to set up your eSIM-enabled device. This update streamlines the process, allowing you to choose a plan and activate your existing device through the T-Mobile app. Like other major carriers, T-Mobile has been in no rush to promote switching over eSIM – it’s a two-way door and also makes it easy to switch back to another carrier. This new process for eSIM-based logins is a shift towards a more complete embrace of the technology.
The T-Mobile app also includes the new Network Pass feature, which allows you to try out the network for free while keeping your existing wireless subscription active. The previous Test Drive program was limited to 30 days or 30 GB of data, whichever came first, while the new program includes unlimited data for the full three-month trial. It is available for unlocked eSIM compatible Android and iOS devices. (The previous program was limited to iPhones, from the XS and newer.) For those without eSIM, the option remains to try out the network by borrowing a hotspot.
Trying out another provider’s network and switching easily was, in fact, the promise of eSIM from the start. The technology started appearing on devices in 2017, but US carriers in particular are slow to support it. Most of the new phones sold now include eSIM support, which has pushed carriers to accommodate the technology. But wider support for eSIM doesn’t solve all our problems – paying for your phone through monthly installments on your wireless bill makes switching messy and potentially expensive. Throwing out physical SIM cards would help, but that’s not the only hurdle to overcome.