T-Mobile's Test Drive Lets You Try Its Network Free for 30 Days

T-Mobile is so eager to win over new customers to its wireless service that it's reviving an old promotion during which you can test-drive its network for free.

(Image credit: T-Mobile/YouTube)

Under T-Mobile's revived Test Drive promotion, which the carrier unveiled today (Aug. 28), you can try out T-Mobile's LTE network for 30 days (or until you go through 30GB of data). 

T-Mobile is betting that if you can first see whether its network has you covered in the areas where you spend a lot of time, like your home or office, you'll be more likely to switch your service from a rival provider.

T-Mobile's Test Drive first launched in 2014, but it wasn't an entirely painless process. You had carry around a second phone, provided by T-Mobile, and you had only seven days to test out the carrier's network before you had to return the device.

The revamped Test Drive should be a little bit easier. T-Mobile sends you a hotspot that connects to its network. You connect your phone to that hotspot, and you'll be able to use the Uncarrier's network to see if it reaches the places you need to be. 

You're still carrying around a second device, but at least this time, you can continue to use your own phone number and apps during the trial period. And when the 30 days or 30GB are up, you don't have to bother with returning the hotspot.

T-Mobile will provide you with a hotspot to test its network.

T-Mobile will provide you with a hotspot to test its network. (Image credit: T-Mobile)

"You use your phone every single day," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a video announcing the revamped Test Drive program. "And yet if you want to switch networks, you've got to go to a store, get a new phone, move all your photos and apps and passwords over, waste an entire Saturday. And then and only then, can you find out that the network works for you. It's totally broken."

T-Mobile wants to show off improvements to its network, particularly its efforts to use 600MHz spectrum to extend its network's reach. Some third-party test firms have recognized T-Mobile's efforts to improve its network coverage and performance, with OpenSignal giving the Uncarrier top marks for network download and upload speeds during the first half of 2019. (Our LTE network testing, conducted last year, found T-Mobile trailing Verizon.) 

The T-Mobile Test Drive is focusing on LTE on this point, so if you're eager to try out T-Mobile's 5G coverage, you're out of luck. That's not going to affect most would-be customers — T-Mobile only offers 5G coverage in half-a-dozen cities, and it sells only one 5G device at this point. (That's the Galaxy S10 5G, though the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G will be coming to the Uncarrier later this year.) 

Still, as 5G coverage becomes more widespread, you can expect more users will want to take a test drive to see if the faster networking standard meets their needs.

To get a free hotspot as part of T-Mobile's Test Drive, you can head to the carrier's website and sign up for the program. You'll need to provide your name, phone number and email address to get a hotspot.

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.