After 12 months SCORE! users can get a somewhat better free phone. Current free options are the $126 Alcatel onetouch Fierce 2 or the $168 LG Optimus L90. Both are a modest upgrade over the Evolve 2 with bigger 4.7 or 5 inch screens, better cameras and faster quad-core processors. However neither supports LTE, which is surprising as T-Mobile offers inexpensive LTE capable phones like the LG Optimus F6, ZTE ZMax and the Nokia Lumia 635 which are not available to SCORE! users. In addition, the L90 is currently on sale by T-Mobile at the closeout price of $49, which is a better deal than paying $60 and waiting 12 months to get the same phone through SCORE!
In addition to free phones, after 12 months of SCORE! payments, T-Mobile lets customers buy flagship phones at a discount. Currently available discounted phones include the Nexus 6 for $549.99 (reg $649.92). the Samsung Galaxy S5 for $499.99 (reg $609.60) or the Samsung Note 4 for $599 (reg $749.76).
I see SCORE! as a way to lock non-contract customers into a commitment to stay with T-Mobile for six or 12 months in return for a $50 to $150 discount on a new phone. The $5/month SCORE! fee is non-refundable so if you leave T-Mobile before you qualify for a free phone discount you lose the money you paid for SCORE! In addition, T-mobile decides which phones are free or discounted under SCORE! There's no guarantee that phones that are SCORE! eligible now will still be available under the program six or 12 months from now.
To me SCORE! only makes sense if you are committed to being a T-Mobile customer for at least the next 6 months, want to upgrade your phone every 6 or 12 months and aren't very fussy about what phone you upgrade to. The limited phone selection is the biggest problem I have with SCORE!, especially as T-Mobile seems to be using it to clear out non-LTE phones.
SCORE! strikes me as a rather inflexible and limited re-invention of the old sign a contract for a subsidized phone model.. Given the many great deals on phones and the way prepaid carriers are routinely offering users free phones, account credits and cash rebates to customers who switch operators, I don't find SCORE! very attractive. I'd rather put $5/month in the bank and keep my options open to upgrade my phone on my terms, not the carrier's.