In my area T-Mobile upgraded the towers in May 2017. Ever since the upgrade my 3 unlocked phones only get a maximum speed of 2G. That's technically a downgrade because I used to get 3G and 4G fine for over 5 years. I know it's the tower upgrade because if I drive 40 minutes away I get 4G in areas with old tower technology. I am not happy at all because T-Mobile told me they can't explain why my phones stopped getting speeds higher than 2G in my area. My phones support all the bands and technology required to run on the T-Mobile network. They advertise it should work but it doesn't work so I am getting fed up with T-Mobile. T-Mobile tech support finally gave up and said I need to replace all 3 unlocked phones with T-Mobile branded phones to get 4G again. So T-Mobile is false advertising by saying unlocked phones with the bands they list will get 3G/4G.
Does anyone know why T-Mobile decided to stop supporting unlocked phones? I don't understand the reason for doing this, upgrades are supposed to be backwards compatible.
I have pretty new phones which are the Samsung A3 2016 and I am using the latest APN T-Mobile told me to use. I am wondering if anyone has had the Samsung A3 2017 get 4G on the new tower upgrade? I don't like the T-Mobile branded Samsung phones because I find them too heavy and large.
Best answer by drnewcomb2
I believe what you are saying is T-Mobile used to support “UMTS” but T-Mobile is dropping UMTS support so the new tower upgrades only support LTE which is why mine isn’t working anymore. My phones support the bands for UMTS but not LTE.
I actually have the 2016 version which is SM-A310F. These are the frequencies.
If I'm following this correctly that means if I buy the “A320Y” version it will work. These are the frequencies.
So this means I have to make sure an unlocked phone has band 2 and 4 for “LTE”. My problem is T-Mobile no longer supports UMTS not that they are unlocked.
T-Mobile should make that clearer on this page, it’s unclear right now that those bands have to be LTE and that UMTS is no longer supported starting 2017.
Thanks for the help
First off, HSPA & HSPA+ are extensions of the UMTS standard for higher speed data. AFAIK, a phone that has UMTS will still work on an HSPA(+) network. HSPA+ is what T-Mobile calls "4G" but is really 3.5G.
The specs you point to for the SM-A310F clearly show that it's a primarily Euro-Asian version, not really intended for use in North America. The US UMTS bands it supports are 2 & 5. AFAIK, T-Mobile does not have any UMTS band-5, so only band-2 will be applicable.
The only US LTE band it supports is band-5. T-Mobile has band-5 LTE in exactly one market: Myrtle Beach, SC. So, this phone is very marginal for use with T-Mobile (USA). It would probably work better on AT&T or one of their MVNOs (e.g. Cricket) as they have extensive UMTS band-5 & 2.
The A320Y would be a decent phone for T-Mobile. I would not turn it down if someone gave me one. But as for buying it now, it lacks LTE band-12, which is T-Mobile's only current low-band frequency, providing extended range and building "penetration". In the future, you'll want to look for a phone with band-71, which will be T-Mobile's new low-band addition, greatly increasing in-building and rural service possibilities.
Anyway, T-Mobile is currently maintaining support for HSPA+/UMTS in markets where it's been in service, but reserves the right to change bands or reduce the amount of spectrum allocated to (depreciate) that service. At least I have not heard of them shutting down HSPA+/UMTS in any existing market. They very seldom install HSPA+ (or GSM) in any new markets. All new coverage in N & S Dakota seems to be LTE. The only HSPA+ in all of the new N. Mich. coverage is in Traverse City (AFAIK).