The fourth-largest wireless provider in the U.S. will be offering the 16-gigabyte iPad Air with 4G LTE connectivity for $498.96, or just a few cents less than the Wi-Fi-only model in the same capacity. The $130 discount applies to all models, including iPad mini with Retina display, which can be purchased with 4G LTE starting at $398.88.
In addition, T-Mobile announced that beginning on April 12, customers can get nearly 1.2 gigabytes of free 4G LTE data every month through until the end of 2014. The carrier has already been offering 200 megabytes per month for free to all new iPad purchases since last October, but it is now offering $10 off its most popular data plans through the end of the year.
With that discount, a 1-gigabyte-per-month tablet data plan would actually be free for the rest of 2014, with a qualifying postpaid voice and mobile Internet service through T-Mobile.
"With this announcement, T-Mobile's launching a full-on assault against the restrictions and pain points that keep tablet owners from experiencing life beyond the Wi-Fi zone," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. "The Un-carrier is all about solving pain points, and today we're eliminating every reason to be stuck on an unconnected Wi-Fi-only tablet. There's no longer any need to limit the use of your tablet because you're intimidated by Big Blue, Bad Red or Bumbling Yellow."
In addition, T-Mobile is also continuing to offer payment of early termination fees from competing carriers for customers who want to switch. Users must simply bring in their tablet to receive an instant credit based on their value, and then purchase any tablet, including Apple's iPad, at the same discounted same-as-Wi-Fi price.
Some customers may also qualify for zero-down financing on their iPad purchase for up to 24 months.
The new iPad discounts are part of T-Mobile's self-described "Un-carrier" strategy, which seeks to differentiate it from its competition, chiefly the three larger U.S. providers: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. In its efforts, T-Mobile has also increased data cap levels, and launched free global roaming for data and text messages.
The iPhone and iPad both debuted on T-Mobile last year, a coup that is credited with helping the carrier reignite growth and chip away at competitors. Prior to that, AT&T attempted to purchase T-Mobile, but the deal fell through after facing scrutiny from the U.S. government.