T-Mobile wants to give you a (sort of) free iPad Air

T-Mobile really wants you to get an iPad on its network. On Wednesday the unconventional carrier announced that it would offer both the iPad Air and the Retina iPad mini for zero dollars down to customers subscribed to one of T-Mobile's post-paid plans. Starting November 1st, T-Mobile customers can walk into a carrier store and walk out with a new iPad without putting down a cent.

Buying a tablet on T-Mobile works a lot like a smartphone purchase with the carrier: You can either pay for the device upfront or get a fixed rate added to your bill that you pay off each month. In the latter case, the iPad Air will set you back $26.25 per month, while the Retina iPad mini will add an extra $22.08 to your monthly bill. Both tablets are compatible with T-Mobile's HSPA+ and LTE networks, giving you respectable download speeds. The catch is you need to be on one of T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans in order to take advantage of the deal, so people using T-Mobile's pre-paid service won't be able to get in on the offer.

You can get an iPad Air or retina iPad mini for next to nothing on T-Mobile.

If you're like me and prefer to pay for your devices upfront, you can help mitigate the cost of a shiny new iPad by trading in your old phone or tablet. T-Mobile says it will accept devices as old as the first-generation iPad and that the amount of credit you get toward your new tablet will depend on the type of phone or tablet that you trade in. For instance, a third-generation 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad will net you a cool $152 in credit that you can use to buy a new phone or tablet. You can even trade in devices from other carriers, in case you're thinking of making the jump to T-Mo.

Even if you're not a T-Mobile customer, you still might want to consider picking up an iPad that's compatible with the carrier. T-Mobile is offering 200MB of free data per month to all compatible tablets (iPad or otherwise) for the life of the device. Higher capped data plans are available as well, but offering 200MB of free mobile data is a nice gesture that's sure to sway a few people. Current T-Mobile tablet owners will also benefit from the news as an extra 200MB of data will be added to their plans at no extra charge.

T-Mobile's recent moves position the carrier favorably against the likes of Verizon and AT&T. Although T-Mo's network coverage isn't as extensive as either of those two carriers, its competitive pricing and consumer-friendly plans should have everyone eagerly awaiting to see what it announces next. I know one thing for certain: Now is a good time to be a T-Mobile customer.

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