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T-Mobile answers Verizon iPhone with free handsets

A little Valentine's day luv

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Just as the much-ballyhooed Verizon Wireless iPhone is making its debut in the US, smaller rival T-Mobile is attempting to grab the spotlight with a new promotion: on this Friday and Saturday, all of its phones will be free with a two-year contract.

And that "all" includes high-end models such as the Android-equipped HSPA+ myTouch 4G and G2, and the Windows Phone 7 HTC HD7. A total of 30 free phones will be available from brands that include HTC, Garmin, Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung.

Don't think that T-Mobile's move is necessarily an act of desperation in response to the iPhone juggernaut. Although the company is number-four among US wireless carriers, it reported a comfortable 33.8 million customers as of the end of the third quarter of 2010, up from 33.6 million at the end of the second quarter.

Number-three Sprint Nextel reported having 48.8 million wireless customers at the end of the third quarter – but determining which carrier is number one is a bit more difficult. Although AT&T recently reported that it had 95.5 million wireless subscribers, and Verizon puts its wireless customers at 94.1 million, one analyst notes that the two companies count connections somewhat differently.

T-Mobile is hooking its promotion to next Monday's celebration of chocolates and roses, calling it "a Valentine's offer to fall in love with." However, the company suggests that you not dawdle: "All phones will be available while supplies last, so customers are encouraged to arrive early."

T-Mobile has tried this inducement once before – on Father's Day 2010 – apparently to great success. According to TmoNews, that promotion resulted in the company's largest one-day sales ever.

With two free-phone days in this Valentine's promotion, el número cuatro is hoping to best last Daddy Day's 110,000 new customers. ®

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