MetroPCS is one of the MVNOs you can consider if you need a prepaid phone without a contract or credit check. However, does the operator allow you to join with a phone from another carrier? And if yes, what carriers are compatible with MetroPCS service?
Well, first of all, MetroPCS now goes by Metro by T-Mobile. Secondly, the operator has a friendly device policy, including a BYP (Bring Your Phone) program. So, yes, you can switch to the service with a phone from another carrier, provided it satisfies the compatibility requirements we’ll be covering today.
The 9 Things to know About MetroPCS
Late last year, we did a Cricket vs Metro comparison review to see which cell phone operator would be better to join. However, we only covered a few features as the service was still new to me.
But now, here are nine crucial things you should know about Metro if planning to join today:
- It’s an MVNO
Indeed, MetroPCS is a mobile virtual network operator (or MVNO in short), which means it doesn’t have its own towers.
- Resells T-Mobile Network
Just as the name, Metro by T-Mobile is a prepaid brand of T Mobile. It also runs on the GSM carrier. Hence, the reason a branded T-Mobile REVVL smartphone works with its SIM card even before unlocking.
- Still doesn’t Support eSIM
Sadly, MetroPCS doesn’t have eSIM support at the moment. So, you might want to consider an MVNO like US Mobile or Mint Mobile if you really want to take advantage of the new tech.
- Gives Deprioritized Data
Different from an MVNO like Spectrum or Xfinity Mobile, Metro provides all the rate plans, including the Unlimited options, with deprioritized data. So, you’ll always experience a drop in data speed whenever T-Mobile towers are too busy.
Note: On a recent Metro 5G speed test, the downloads peaked at 658Mbps, whereas uploads reached 138Mbps. So, you might want to consider getting a 5G phone so you can have a usable service even during deprioritization.
- Has Amazing Phone Deals
Oh, yeah, the MetroPCS add a line get free phone deals can save you up to $400 with no trade-in required. Thus, bettering even AT&T that only gives its customers freebies when you provide an eligible trade-in.
- Supports WiFi Calling
MetroPCS has WiFi calling and texting for free. So, you might want to have a phone that supports the feature, especially considering the operator doesn’t have a domestic or international roaming service.
- Have Physical Stores
As one of the oldest MVNOs, Metro does offer services through its physical stores across the country. But in the guide on the fees to activate a phone, we saw the agent will slap you with a minimum $25 fee/ line. So, you might want to do the activation and upgrade process yourself online since it’s free.
- Only Offers Branded Phones
Metro by T-Mobile, like the majority of the phone providers, usually locks the phone they sell for 180 days. So you can’t use it with other carriers immediately, as with the Pure Talk or Google Fi with fully unlocked cell phones.
- Shares LTE Bands with AT&T
Last but not least, Metro, which is one of the benefactors of T-Mobile towers, operates on bands 71*, 66, 12*, 5, 4*, and 2. But AT&T also runs on LTE bands 66, 12*, 5, 4, and 2 (where * represents main bands). So, many phones that have been working on the AT&T network will be compatible with Metro SIM cards.
What Carriers are Compatible with MetroPCS?
If you have a keen eye, I’ve already mentioned two phone providers that are “naturally” compatible with MetroPCS. And since both are major carriers, it simply means even their MVNOs will be compatible with the MetroPCS at some point.
The Three Key Aspects that Make a Carrier Compatible with MetroPCS
Before going through the list of carriers compatible with MetroPCS, there are three key things I’d like you to know:
- Locked Main Carrier Phones are Compatible with their MVNOs
In most cases, phones locked to a major carrier (with its towers) will be compatible with its sub-carriers. And that means branded T-Mobile phones will be naturally compatible with our Metro SIM cards.
But again, T-Mobile doesn’t share its Apple carrier bundle with the MVNOs. So, you’re likely to find your T-Mobile-locked iPhone doesn’t have a sharp signal on Metro as a Metro-locked or factory unlocked phone.
- Locked MVNO Phones aren’t Compatile with Others
Although devices locked to a major carrier usually work with MVNOs, the feature doesn’t work the other way. In other words, a MetroPCS-locked phone can only work with a Metro SIM card but not T-Mobile.
If you want the device to work with T-Mobile, you’ll first have to unlock it.
- Unlocked Phones are Compatible with the Majority of Carriers
An unlocked phone usually doesn’t have any network restrictions. You have the freedom to use with any carrier, provided it has at least one or all of the main network bands.
If it’s MetroPCS, we said the carrier runs on main LTE bands 71, 12, or 4 and 5G on band N71 or N41, which are also for T-Mobile. So, the carrier-unlocked phone you’d like to bring to the service must have either of the LTE or 5G bands to get a connection.
Even so, there are other channels (secondary bands) that your device can use to send or receive data. And they include bands 2, 5, 4, 5, and 66 on LTE or N258, N260, and N261 for 5G
GSM vs CDMA: Does it still Matters?
CDMA and GSM technologies had made it hard to share devices between carriers for a while. At the time, CDMA phones (which we mostly Verizon and Sprint) didn’t even rely on a physical SIM card to store users’ data.
So, when you try to switch from AT&T to Verizon or vice versa, you’d need to buy a new device in most cases.
As of right now, though, the three major carriers will no longer use the 3G bands, which comprised the GSM and CDMA standards. The providers want the subscribers on either LTE or 5G connectivity, both of which are dual-band compatible.
So, you’ll find many of the 4G/ 5G Straight Talk phones that use Verizon towers are also compatible with supposedly GSM networks like MetroPCS. But, of course, that’s assuming the phone in question has the main Metro/ T-Mobile bands we’ve just mentioned above.
The 10 Best Carriers Compatible with MetroPCS
|Carriers Compatible with MetroPCS||Carrier Network||LTE Main Bands||5G Main Bands|
|T-Mobile||T-Mobile||71, 12, & 4||N71 & N41|
|Mint Mobile||T-Mobile||71, 12, & 4||N71 & N41|
|Tello||T-Mobile||71, 12, & 4||N71 & N41|
|Simple Mobile||T-Mobile||71, 12, & 4||N71 & N41|
|Red Pocket||T-Mobile/ AT&T/ Verizon||Varies (w/ host network)||Varies (w/ host network)|
|Ultra Mobile||T-Mobile||71, 12, & 4||N71 & N41|
|Google Fi||T-Mobile/ U.S. Cellular||Varies (w/ host network)||Varies (w/ host network)|
|AT&T||AT&T||12 & 17||N260 & N5|
|Cricket Wireless||AT&T||12 & 17||N260 & N5|
|Pure Talk||AT&T||12 & 17||N260 & N5|
|US Mobile||T-Mobile/ Verizon||Varies (w/ host network)||Varies (w/ host network)|
|Verizon||Verizon||13||N5 & N260/ 261|
Again, T-Mobile is the carrier network of MetroPCS. So, you can use an unlocked phone from either carrier without any issues. If you want to, you can also use a branded T-Mobile phone with Metro even before unlocking.
However, the function doesn’t work the other way, in which case you must unlock your Metro phone before using it on T-Mobile.
- Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile is one of the other prepaid operators on the T-Mobile Network. So, it’s easily compatible with Metro service. But considering it’s an MVNO, your phone must be carrier-unlocked to work with the other service.
Similarly, Tello has a network deal with T-Mobile. So, you should be able to use an unlocked Tello phone with a MetroPCS SIM card with no hassle. The same goes for an unlocked Metro phone, whether LTE or 5G capable model.
- Simple Mobile
Technically, phones compatible with Simple Mobile should also work with MetroPCS for now since both are on the T-Mobile network. However, Verizon recently acquired TracFone, which is the parent company of Simple Mobile.
Simple Mobile support even claims they might switch to the Verizon network soon. But then, Verizon usually operates on main LTE band 13 or bands N5 & N260/ 261 for 5G. Thus, the future might not have phones you can share between Simple Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs like MetroPCS.
- Red Pocket
Red Pocket is one of the few MVNOs that has partnered with all the three major network carriers. All the Red Pocket GSMT phones (on T-Mobile) should be compatible with MetroPCS (or vice versa) once unlocked.
Also, many Red Pocket GSMA devices (on AT&T) will be compatible with MetroPCS. But for Red Pocket CDMA (on Verizon), it will depend on the device in question since Verizon utilizes different main bands.
- Ultra Mobile
Ultra Mobile is yet another sub-carrier utilizing T-Mobile towers to offer cell phone service. So, it should share unlocked devices with Metro without a hassle since the channels to send and receive data are pretty much the same.
- Google Fi
Well, Google Fi has network deals with T-Mobile and U.S Cellular (a CDMA carrier that mainly serves the western and northwest region). But the MVNO also sells devices that are already unlocked. So, it’s easily compatible with MetroPCS, provided the device in question has at least band 71, 12, or 4 on LTE and N71 or N41 for 5G.
As was mentioned earlier, AT&T shares the main band 12 with T-Mobile. So, it can share some of its LTE devices with MetroPCS, considering they’re already unlocked.
- Cricket Wireless
As a brand of AT&T, Cricket uses the same carrier to serve its customers. So, unlocked Cricket phones with at least band 12 should work with MetroPCS without any issues.
- Pure Talk
Pure Talk is yet another MVNO on AT&T. But similar to Google Fi, it usually sells fully unlocked phones and iPad tablets. So, you can start using immediately with MetroPCS.
If it’s the other way round, Metro usually locks its devices for approximately six months after activation. So, you’ll have to wait to unlock and be able to use on Pure Talk service.
- US Mobile
US Mobile is another carrier that has multiple network deals- with Verizon and T-Mobile. So, it’s not all devices on the Super LTE (Verizon network) will be compatible with MetroPCS.
On the other hand, the US Mobile GSM devices (On T-Mobile) will be easily compatible with T-Mobile from their similar network requirement. But since it’s an MVNO on MVNO, the devices must be fully unlocked to work on the other.
As was mentioned, all carriers now have LTE as the standard network. So, the Verizon devices that support bands 71, 12, or 4 on LTE and N71 or N41 for 5G will be compatible with Metro SIM cards.
Can I use my MetroPCS phone with another carrier?
Naturally, you can use any unlocked MetroPCS phone with other carriers operating on the T-Mobile channels. The phone should also work with AT&T or even Verizon and its MVNOs if it supports at least one or more of the other carrier’s main bands.
Which unlocked phones work with MetroPCS?
Overall, all the unlocked phones from T-Mobile or its other MVNOs should easily work with MetroPCS. Besides, they all share the same towers and also the channels to send and receive data.
Also, unlocked AT&T and even Verizon phones can also work with MetroPCS, but you’ll have to confirm they have the necessary network bands.
How do I unlock my MetroPCS phone to any carrier?
Similar to most carriers, MetroPCS usually unlocks your device automatically after one hundred eighty days since activation. If your phone didn’t unlock automatically, you’ll receive a notification about eligibility. So, you’ll just need to enable data of your locked Metro phone or connect to WiFi. Then, go to Settings >> Connections >> More Connection Settings >>Network Unlock and tap the “permanent Unlock” button.
Can you buy a phone from T-Mobile and use it for MetroPCS?
Well, devices from main carriers are usually compatible with their sub-carriers. So, YES, you can buy a phone from T-Mobile and use it on MetroPCS even before unlocking.
We have quite many carriers compatible with MetroPCS. But T-Mobile is the carrier network of the MVNO, which is why you can even use its locked devices with a Metro SIM card with no issue.
In the case of Mint, Simple Mobile, and the rest of the T-Mobile MVNOs, you’ll have to unlock the phone before using it on Metro. The same applies to AT&T and Verizon, plus their sub-carriers, considering the respective device also support the MetroPCS/ T-Mobile bands.