T-Mobile Essentials plan goes back to basics

T-Mobile has a new smartphone plan focusing on the holy trifecta: unlimited calls, messaging, and data, and very little else. T-Mobile Essentials does without the usual add-ons of international data access, unlimited mobile hotspot, and other features, in the name of keeping the price down every month.

As a result, T-Mobile's big boast with its Essentials plan is that you can get four lines for $30 per line. As you might expect, though, the savings only really kick in when you activate multiple lines. A single Essentials line is $60 per month, while adding a second is another $30 per month. Lines three through to six are $15 per month each.

You'll also have to take into account taxes, and agree to autopay payments. Without the latter, each line will be $5 per month more.

In return, you get what used to be the core premise of every phone plan: calls, messaging, and data. T-Mobile says it reserves the right to throttle your connection in times of overall network congestion, and that "Essentials customers may notice speeds lower than other customers" at such times. Use more than 50 GB of data per month, meanwhile, and you could also run into throttling.

As for mobile hotspot use, that's also included, though not at the same sort of speeds as T-Mobile ONE customers might experience. Essentials includes unlimited mobile hotspot use, but capped at 3G speeds. If you need faster, $10 per month adds on 10 GB of LTE mobile hotspot access.

Then there's use outside of the US. "T-Mobile Essentials is a plan for people who predominantly use their phone domestically," the carrier says, pointing frequent travelers in the direction of T-Mobile ONE instead. Essentials includes unlimited talk, text, and 2G data when roaming, but only in Canada and Mexico.

If you want unlimited calling, and 512 MB of up to 4G LTE data, in those countries, you can buy a $5/day 24 Hour Global Pass. Outside of those countries, when overseas in 210+ countries there's unlimited texting and flat-rate calling at $0.25 per minute. The same 24 Hour Global Pass is also available.

T-Mobile Essentials will be open for new and existing subscribers to sign up as of August 10.