What’s happened to the Mobile Phone Experience?

carrierUPDATE June 27th: My TMO complaint was escalated and the agent, reviewing my case before contacting me, did one simple thing: asked me if moving back to my old plan would solved the problem. My immediate response was ‘Yes!’ I’m moving back to my old plan in July. Across credit card companies, banks, utilities, other carriers, most businesses I deal with; that one simple question showed she reviewed the case, understood my problem, and suggested a solution I didn’t think was possible. I was all set to continue to lambast TMO every time I tried to my use my hotspot based on my experiences from March-June. I’m looking forward to being back on my old plan that served so well over the years. BTW I’m enjoying my OnePlus6, I’ll let you know how the hardware holds up over the years. Another ‘mobile’ experience I’m enjoying is Google Messages, it has a web client, and backs-up your messages. To the RCS/IMS bigots: all other messaging platforms have shown for years IMS is NOT required to make that happen. So no lost SMS with factory resets, and migrating to my OnePlus6 had all the old messages (since my last factory reset and I’d stated using the new version of Google Messages). My mobile experience is finally looking more rosy.

UPDATE June 26th: @TMobileHelp contacted me after a tweeted about this article on June 25th after a frustrating hotspot experience while trying to work at the pool during my son’s swim practice. That experience further confirmed T-Mobile is no longer an un-carrier. I was forced to change plans, as explained in this article, I’m paying $10 pm more ($120 pm) for an unusable hotspot (tethering) service as TMO are throttling my internet access. Their answer is for me to pay $20 pm more to get back what I had. Given that I’m paying roughly 50%+ more than what people in other countries pay for a similar mobile service.  I’ve been pushed too far. TMO cheated me into the new ‘unlimited’ plan so limited its next to useless for hotspot. A $120 pm unlimited plan should include full rate hotspot, not 0.06 to 0.12 Mbps hotspot. T-Mobile’s actions foreshadow a dark future for its customers of rate increases else unusable services.

Original Article

This year has been a bit crap as far as my mobile phone experience goes.

In March T-Mobile US cheated me into a new 2 year contract that is $10 more expensive than my old one with an unusable hot spot experience. Search online and you’ll see lots of angry customers complaining about the crap hotspot experience with the new plans. T-Mobile US is most definitely behaving like a carrier these days, its un-carrier positioning that was once true is no longer the case. I’ll come back to TMO later.

fingerprintI’ve finally had to draw a line under the Google Nexus 5X experience. Its been 3 years and 3 phones. The phone has an impressive software experience, but a really crap hardware experience. I got the Nexus 5X when it came out in Oct 2015. In July 2016 the phone went crazy with ghost key presses, I managed to get a factory reset done with no impact on the problem. They replaced the phone. Then in August 2017 the phone entered the dreaded boot-loop, that is the processor comes loose in the multi-chip module. So a courtesy replacement, and here we are in June 2018 and the fingerprint sensor died and the battery would drain in a couple of hours, an overnight charging would end up with a lower % in the morning. I removed the fingerprint sensor, see picture, there are lots of helpful YouTube videos on doing this. That helped so at the end of the night the charge would rise by perhaps 30%. I only get a full charge with a 2A feed.

Search online and you’ll see there are lots of Nexus 5X owners with similar problems, and lots of videos showing how to repair, especially the finger-print sensor problem. The boot-loop is a little more involved and requires heating a specific part of the phone in an attempt to reconnect the processor in the multi-chip module. There was also the problem of the phone closing down when taken out on a cold day, which made taking snowy pictures a challenge. I’m off to try the OnePlus6.

Now back to why I feel cheated by TMO, the carrier, not un-carrier. In March this year I was running TADHack-mini Orlando. On Sunday night after the event I was uploading the pitch videos for my editor, Inti, to work on when he woke up in Madrid. They had to go out that night, as we had a session at Enterprise Connect in the afternoon. The Airbnb’s cable internet was not working, but no worries I had 4G hotspot on my trusty unlimited TMO plan. At about midnight video uploads stopped working. Well, ran at 128kbps. I’d reached the 10GB limit for hotspot usage in my ‘unlimited’ plan. I wasn’t aware of that limit until that point.

So I called TMO, explained the emergency situation, and asked if they would increase the 10GB limit to 20GB so I could finish my work and go to bed. The word NO was said many times to me, I pointed out its a field they can change and I’d been a customer for many years.

The TMO CSR gave the ultimatum: you’re on a grandfathered plan, you want us to do anything, you move to our new plan for 2 years. Oh and by the way, its $10 more per month and you only get 3G rate on hotspot. Its 00:30 Monday morning, I still have 3 hours of work, I’m so pissed off with my TMO experience. As a ‘favor’ they put me onto the 4G hotspot for one month for ‘free’ so I can finished my work that night, but I have to call in to remove it else I will get charged. I then get stung for a mid month change for the plan that I only find out when I check the bill which is such a mess with charges and credits I haven’t a clue what’s going on except I seem to be paying a lot more than I expected. After the month of 4G hotspot I loose all hotspot access. They’d messed up on the config so another agent sorted that out and listened to my rant at how crap TMO treated me.

I’ve had a phone with a MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) of about one year. I have to waste hours dealing with the crap from factory resets in getting everything back up and running on the phone. TMO cheats me into a new ‘unlimited’ plan so limited its next to useless. The mobile phone experience has become a bit crap.