Apple VP Greg Joswiak announces the new iPhone SE during an Apple special event at the Apple headquarters on March 21, 2016 in Cupertino, California.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan Getty Images
By Don Reisinger
March 30, 2016

There’s a way to get any iPhone you want for half off its regular price. But there’s a catch.

Starting on Thursday, anyone who buys a full-priced iPhone and opens a new line from T-Mobile (TMUS) will get a second iPhone of equal or lesser value half off, the company announced on Wednesday. Although the deal coincides with the release of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone SE on Thursday, T-Mobile says it also applies to Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

T-Mobile, which has fashioned itself the “Un-Carrier” for engaging in plan and pricing activities that are decidedly unorthodox in the wireless carrier market, has offered similar deals in the past. In January, for instance, T-Mobile offered half off on a wide array of smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone 6s line, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S6. Earlier this month, T-Mobile announced that customers could get a free Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, if they bought a full-priced model and activated a new line.

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The Apple deal comes on the same day the iPhone SE launches across in about a dozen markets worldwide. The device, which was announced last week, comes with a 4-inch screen and runs on the same A9 processor found in the iPhone 6s line. The smartphone is also notably cheaper than its bigger counterparts, starting at just $399 for the 16GB model. In comparison, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s starts at $649, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus starts at $749.

T-Mobile customers, in other words, could stand to save hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone, if they end up buying two Apple handsets from the carrier.

But whether T-Mobile’s pricing efforts really do enough to help the company attract customers is up for debate. The company has been growing its customer base at a more rapid pace than any of its competitors, but it’s still tens of millions of customers behind market leaders AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ). Those companies, which have taken jabs from T-Mobile, have scoffed at the smaller carrier’s efforts and along the way, held relatively steady with their market lead.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile has been slowly but surely creeping up. The company announced in February that it added a net of 2 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter and its profit jumped from $101 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $297 million in the final quarter of 2015. T-Mobile’s revenue was up 1.1% to $8.25 billion.

The company reported that its special deals, like the new iPhone offer, along with consumer-friendly programs including its Binge On video service that allows users to watch certain video content without affecting their monthly data allotment, have helped it grow its subscribers. That’s likely why it’s trying its luck again with the iPhone half-off deal starting tomorrow.

iPhone SE Won’t Be as Popular as Apple Hopes, Study Says

T-Mobile’s offer is good for a limited time, though the company didn’t say how long it would be offered. The hundreds of dollars customers will save on a new iPhone will be given to them in a prepaid MasterCard card. In order to qualify, the new line customers activate must remain active through July 15, 2016.

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