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[GUIDE][US] T-Mobile's DIGITS Program: What is it? How does it work? Why should YOU use it?

Xanthe_2871
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Alright, so this is going to get pretty complicated. Unfortunately T-Mobile's DIGITS program is convoluted, and many of their reps don't even understand it. Heck, I was a beta tester for the program; I had many long conversations over the phone with T-Mobile's DIGITS support team and I still don't fully understand the intricacies of the program.

 

I think, to make this all as understandable and easy to read as possible, I'll start out with the simpler stuff and work my way into the more geeky stuff. So to begin with here's the core concept of the program: To separate your phone number from your SIM card/phone. T-Mobile believes that your phone number should be more like your email address or IMs, accessible wherever you need it and not just on your current smartphone. 

 

To that end, every phone number on T-Mobile's network is now a 'DIGITS' line. But thinking of DIGITS that way can be a bit confusing, since your existing phone number is now part of 'DIGITS', but a "DIGITS line" is different. I believe I said at the beginning that this was going to get confusing. So to clarify, every existing voice line on T-Mobile, regardless of what plan you have, regardless of what type of account you have, is now a 'DIGITS' line, in the sense that all existing lines are now automatically ready for use in the DIGITS program. There is no need to sign up. However, a "DIGITS line" double quotes is different, as that's a new line added to your account specifically for use within the program. These you do have to sign up for.

 

Keeping it simple for now, let's say you have no need for a new "DIGITS line" and just want to know how your existing 'DIGITS' lines work. Alright, sure! Your current phone numbers are now DIGITS numbers. That means if you leave your phone at home, or it gets stolen, or a shark eats it, or whatever, you're left without your physical phone, you can still use your phone number. How? You can use any Android, iOS, or Windows PC (sorry, no Windows Phone) to access your DIGITS.

 

To use your existing phone number on a new phone you download the DIGITS app from your app store. Sign in to the app with your T-Mobile ID (the same login you'd use to check your My T-Mobile account) and choose what number(s) you'd like to use. That's it. This will work with any smartphone that has internet access, even if it's a Verizon phone or AT&T, or even if it's a $10 unactivated TracFone on WiFi. You will now be able to send and receive calls and texts like normal. Same goes for using your PC. Just go to the DIGITS website (link) and sign in. Even if you've never used DIGITS before you'll be ok, as there is no signup required. You won't need to confirm a text sent to a phone you can't access because the shark ate it, at most you'll need to confirm your identity via email if your activity is deemed suspicious by T-Mobile. You do NOT have to sign up today to ensure you'll be able to use it later.

 

That's pretty neat, huh? If any existing T-Mobile customer can't use their phone but needs their number they can easily access it from any internet connected phone or computer. But that's not all DIGITS can do, it can do so much more. Let's talk about those "DIGITS lines" that you add to your account. There's two types of those. One where you can add a second, new phone number to your existing smartphone (similar to services like Sideline or Line2) and one where you can use your existing number on a second physical device that doesn't currently have service or WiFi. The former is known as a "DIGITS Talk & Text" line, while the latter is called a "Data with paired DIGITS" line.

 

Let's start with the Talk & Text version. This is a virtual phone number which exists only in cyberspace. There is no SIM for it. Adding a Talk & Text DIGITS line to your account will give you a brand new phone number that you can use just like a normal phone number via the DIGITS app or website, or on select Samsung Galaxy phones the stock dialer app as DIGITS functionality built in. Adding one of these lines costs $10 per month. That's a flat cost across all  accounts, regardless of how many lines you have, regardless of your account type. This works for T-Mobile ONE accounts, and for Simple Choice, and for Select Choice. @Work customers too. Any plan it's the same price, $10.

 

But why go with T-Mobile's Talk & Text DIGITS to add a second phone number to your phone when there are so many alternatives like Sideline or Line2? $10 a month is a lot compared to other services. Well, there's two major benefits. Firstly, and most important, a DIGITS Talk & Text line is a REAL US phone number, 100%. Services like Sideline are not 100%. Some things will work with those apps like basic calling and texting, but something like short-codes or so called "text charity" will not. You can't use a Sideline number to verify yourself with a website that uses a short code SMS service. You also can't contribute to those "Text LOVE to XXXXX to donate $5 to hungry dolphins trapped in the Mississippi".

 

You can do anything with a DIGITS Talk & Text line that you can do with a real phone number. It makes for a great SPAM line, or if you have multiple accounts on apps or websites that require a unique phone number to sign up. The second reason is less important, but if you have a select Samsung Galaxy phone you can use a DIGITS line without needing to download any app at all, so theoretically that should be good for overall system performance on your phone. Those are pretty good benefits, but if you still think $10 is too much, you can actually get a DIGITS Talk & Text line for free right now if you get T-Mobile's ONE+ add on. That's also $10 a month.

 

Now let's talk about the other "DIGITS" line, the Data with Paired DIGITS line. There are actually two incarnations of this option, this one and a high speed one. I'll explain the difference further into this post. For now let's focus on what this option allows you to do. If you sign up for a Data with Paired DIGITS line then you'll receive a second SIM card for one of your existing voice lines. This SIM can be used in a second smartphone, a wearable, or a tablet. It will use the same phone number as whatever voice line you pair it to, and it's use of calls, texts, and data will count against the voice line it's mirroring. Both phones will ring at once when that number is called. No app is needed as the second number is on the SIM itself (well, it's not exactly. If you're interested in the tech behind this I'll explain it near the bottom of this post).

 

Adding a Data with Paired DIGITS line will cost $10 a month and includes the same number of calls and texts as the line it's set up to mirror. Data on a Data with Paired DIGITS line is shared with the line it mirrors, and the speed is limited to "3G speeds" or approx. 512 Kbps. Adding a High Speed Data with Paired DIGITS is essentially the same, but the data will be unlimited at 4G LTE speeds, and it costs $20 per month. These prices are independent of the plan you're on or how many lines you have. You can have up to 4 Data with DIGITS or High Speed Data with DIGITS per voice line, and a total of 20 DIGITS lines per account (Talk & Text DIGITS lines also count towards that 20 line limit).

 

Data with paired DIGITS calling demo:

 

 

I think now would be a good time to get into some FAQ's.

Spoiler

 

FAQ's: (in no particular order)

 

Q: If I get a DIGITS Talk & Text line can I port in an existing phone number?

A: Yes. 

 

Q: If I add a Data with paired DIGITS line will it's use of data affect my KickBack?

A: Yes. The data it uses is shared with the primary line's data bucket.

 

Q: Can I add three Data with DIGITS lines for my kids instead of adding 3 voice lines and save some money?

A: Yes, but you shouldn't. First, and most importantly, your kids will be sharing one phone number. Now that might be ok if they're really young and you just want a way to reach them all at once, but if they are old enough to be calling or texting friends then that would make socializing exceedingly difficult. Second, their data speeds will be very slow. Again, if they're little kids you don't really want downloading apps or browsing the web then that might be ok, but older kids are going to want high speed data. You could add High Speed Data with DIGITS, but now we're talking the same price as a normal voice line for lines 3-8 on T-Mobile ONE, so again not really a good idea. If you do this, do NOT tell the T-Mobile rep. Act stupid and don't let them know your plans. Also keep in mind that while you can use the normal, slow data with paired DIGITS in a smartphone the reps have been told to market that plan more towards wearables and tablets, so they may pitch you towards the high speed option if they know you're planning on putting those SIMs in smartphones.

 

Q: Can I switch between the slow and fast versions of Data with paired DIGITS without closing the line?

A: Yes.

 

Q: T-Mobile claims career grade call quality through the app, does that still apply to WiFi only calls?

A: No, not really. If you use the DIGITS app to place a call on a phone with cellular service, regardless of what career it's on, the call will be routed through that phone's native dialer app. You will get the same quality as a normal call. But if the phone is on WiFi only you'll be using VoIP, with the same quality you'd get anywhere else.

 

Q: Do I need to sign up now so I can use the DIGITS app later if I lose my phone?

A: No. All voice lines are automatically signed up for the service. Except those still on pre-select choice plans. But they'res like 5 people on those plans, right? :P 

 

Q: Can a DIGITS line get it's own T-Mobile Tuesdays?

A: Not anymore. During the beta, yes, but now they've fixed that.

 

-Further questions and answers will be posted here based on conversation in this thread-

 

 

Now for the geeky side of things, how does DIGITS work? It's all handled at a network level. If you have a DIGITS Talk & Text line and someone calls it, it gets handled the same way as a normal call but the routing sends the call to any devices with that number in their DIGITS app. If someone calls your number and you have a Data with Paired DIGITS line, then both SIMs get the call. The SIM in the duplicate device does not actually have a second copy of your phone number though, it has it's own phone number that T-Mobile masks within their network. When you call out from that phone the network spoofs the caller ID to appear the same as the number that phone is mirroring, but in reality it is a different number placing the call. In fact, this can cause glitches when you dial a number without the area code since the phone is trying to dial that number based on it's area code, and it's almost always different. For more info on the technical side of things, I'd recommend this video here (link).

 

And that's it! What do you guys think? Will you be using DIGITS? Is there anything else you'd like to know? Please comment below! :D 

Yes, it's 2871 as in the year 2871. I traveled all this way, back in time, just to help you. And you thought your mama lied when she said you were special-_-

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, just found this from Reddit and recognized you from the forum :) very helpful guide! I just switched to T-Mobile and have been looking for a Continuity replacement for my PC so I can make/receive calls. Thanks for the info!

Looking for recent PC deals? /r/buildapcsales is your friend.

 

HP Spectre x360 13t (Late 2017) w/ Intel i7-8550u, 16GB RAM, 320GB NVMe SSD

AORUS Gaming Box 1070 External GPU

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  • 2 months later...

I tried installing the app in one of my devices and the Security part on the license agreement states that the data transmission for the app is unencrypted. Why do they keep developing software with these faults? I cannot believe these people. This service is simply unacceptable if the data transmitted is unecrypted. We already have 2G for that shit.

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