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T-Mobile to offer iPhone April 12

The number four mobile carrier is moving to no-contract smartphone plans in a bid to increase market share.

John Moore/Getty Images

The number four mobile carrier is moving to no-contract smartphone plans in a bid to increase market share.

NEW YORK — T-Mobile USA Inc., the struggling wireless carrier, has a ray of hope: It’s finally getting the iPhone, it’s selling the device at an aggressive price, and customers won’t have to sign a contract.

The company said Apple’s iPhone 5 would be available starting April 12 for $100 up front, plus $20 a month for 24 months. Other new smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S IV and the BlackBerry Z10, will be available with similar payment plans.

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There will be no contract binding customers to the fourth-biggest mobile carrier, but customers will have to pay off the balance owed on the phone to end T-Mobile service.

Over two years, the effective price for a smartphone andservice will be hundreds of dollars less than at AT&T or Verizon Wireless. At $580, it would also be cheaper than buying a $649 unlocked phone directly from Apple.

The simplified phone plan is part of T-Mobile’s new campaign to be the ‘‘un-carrier.’’ By moving to contract-free plans, it says it is doing away with charging customers fees for surpassing data limits or terminating service early.

‘‘Do you have any idea what you’re paying?’’ chief executive John Legere said at a media event. ‘‘I’m going to explain how stupid we all are because once it becomes flat and transparent, there’s nowhere to hide. You pay so much for your phones, it’s incredible.’’

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