T-Mobile is giving away free 5G phones — how to get yours

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
(Image credit: Samsung)

5G service has been available to U.S. wireless customers for two years now. But if you don't own a phone that's capable of connecting to 5G networks, all this talk about faster speeds is all pretty meaningless to you. T-Mobile announced a plan to do something about that today (April 7).

The wireless carrier plans to give everyone a free 5G phone — the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy A32, specifically — when you trade in any mobile phone. And T-Mobile is really emphasizing the "any" part: if the phone is a mobile device and in working condition, T-Mobile will hand you over a Galaxy A32 5G to work with one of its mobile wireless plans.

The phone isn't entirely free, at least not initially. You'll have to pay for the $282 Galaxy A32 in monthly installments, with T-Mobile offering monthly bill credits spread out over 24 months. Drop T-Mobile as your wireless carrier before then, and you're on the hook for paying off the phone.

T-Mobile is betting you'll be eager to stay on though, once you get a taste of its 5G coverage. The extended range network of T-Mobile 5G now reaches 285 million people with more than 100 million now benefitting from faster speeds as T-Mobile integrates spectrum from former rival Sprint into its network. More than 200 million people will have access to this Ultra Capacity 5G service by the end of this year, T-Mobile says.

To further sweeten the pot for switchers, T-Mobile is offering unlimited data plans to AT&T and Verizon customers with tiered data plans. Switch to T-Mobile and your new unlimited data plan will cost the same or less than your current tiered data plan with another carrier.

T-Mobile 5G

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert (Image credit: T-Mobile/YouTube)

In addition, T-Mobile plans to upgrade existing customers on legacy tiered data plans to unlimited coverage at no extra cost. That move includes former Sprint customers who came over to T-Mobile when the two wireless carriers merged last year.

As for the Galaxy A32 phone T-Mobile now offers for free with trade-in, it's a 5G-capable phone powered by a MediaTek 720 system-on-chip. You get a 6.5-inch LCD screen that offers a 90 Hz refresh rate — faster than the 60 Hz refresh rate that's typically found on smartphones.

The Galaxy A32 offers four rear cameras, led by a 48MP main shooter that's augmented with an 8MP ultrawide lens plus dedicated macro and depth sensors. A 5,000 mAh battery keeps the Galaxy A32 powered up.

If Android phones don't appeal to you, T-Mobile has another offer, though it's a bit more restricted. You can pick up a free iPhone 12 from the carrier, but you'll need to trade in an iPhone 11 for that offer. Any Apple phone from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X gets you half of a new iPhone 12, which was the first Apple device to offer 5G connectivity.

T-Mobile says its free 5G phone promotion will run all year, though the phone on offer for free may change from time to time. This latest promotion kicks off April 18.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.