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T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On Smart Suitcase Review: A Bright PR Grab

You'll always be able to find your suitcase in a crowd.

Rating:
7/10
?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price:
Starting At $325.00
The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On smart suitcase with its handle open.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

T-Mobile teamed up with Samsara to create “The Un-carrier On,” a smart carry-on it’s claiming is “the smartest” of bags. Unfortunately, this bright magenta smart suitcase feels like an indulgent PR stunt and is also quite expensive at $325.

The über-branded T-Mobile Samara Un-carrier On bag includes a removable battery pack, an Apple AirTag, and a flat work surface so you can, presumably, use your bag as a desk because you’re too important just to put your laptop on your lap. These features are all packed into a bright magenta body with black detailing, which frankly reminds me of my punk rock phase in middle school when I committed to solely wearing black and pink as a statement.

My younger self would be squealing with joy at the coolness of the design, but sadly, I don’t think most adults will be keen on the color, let alone the cost.

Here's What We Like

  • Nice organization options
  • Sturdy bag build
  • Effective wireless charger
  • Smooth wheels
  • It's easy to eject the battery

And What We Don't

  • Most phones don't fit into the wireless charging phone compartment
  • The airline lithium-ion battery requirements can be complicated if you don't know the restrictions
  • The magenta color might be a turn-off for some
  • It's expensive

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The Design: A Hot Magenta T-Mobile Ad You’ll Love or Hate

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On smart suitcase with its handle down.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

  • Bag size with handle closed: 9.8 x 15 x 22.5in (25 x 39 x 57cm)
  • Height with handle open: 42in (105cm)
  • Weight: 9.68lbs (4.39kg)
  • Capacity: 45.6l
  • Handle: Telescopic design, aluminum
  • Material: Durable polycarbonate, aviation-grade aluminum
  • Locks: TSA-approved combination locks
  • Wheels: 360-degree movement
  • Color: Magenta with black accents

I’ll be honest: I still have a thing for brilliant shades of pink, and that part of me is probably never dying. However, T-Mobile’s signature color isn’t for everyone. How many people want a magenta carry-on bag? Even if you dig the color, you might find $325 for a carry-on suitcase a lot. This magenta shade is somewhere between Barney’s dinosaur purple and Magenta from Blue’s Clues. If that appeals to you, you’re looking at a match made in heaven (er, magenta).

I get that it’s T-Mobile’s signature brand color, but you can’t help but stand out from the crowd (whether you want to or not) when you’re wheeling this baby around.

The color aside, the suitcase’s body resembles other Samsara carry-on bags. Its overall design mimics its Grand Carry-On bags, which are slightly larger than the standard carry-on size. The telescopic handle is situated at the top of the bag and fits squarely inside its compartment (for that stellar flat workstation you’ll be sitting your laptop on, wink, wink). All jokes aside, the flat surface may make it easier to set a purse or other duffle on top of it while rolling through the airport.

The right side of the bag features dual TSA-approved combination locks and a side-carry handle. On the top back of the suitcase, below the handle compartment, is the spring-loaded battery slot and its plastic cover. The phone holder, where you’d place your phone inside to charge wirelessly, is in front of the battery.

Popping open the locks, you’ve got two well-designed compartments for your belongings. A zippered side is on the left, while the right side features a buckle and a zipper that, when opened, reveals the inner compartment where you can access the AirTag holder. The suitcase comes with eight packing bags and a T-Mobile-Samsara branded bag to store them in, a plus for organization and keeping your clean and dirty laundry separate.

The pink and black spinner wheels feature a “T” for the T-Mobile logo, and you’ll find more branding representing both T-Mobile and Samsara inside the bag and on its handles.

Battery and Charging Compartment: A Conundrum for Non-iPhone Users

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On smart suitcase with the battery connected to a USB-C cable.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

  • Battery pack: 10,000 mAh, 37WH, capable of wireless charging
  • Dimensions: 5.1in x 3.2in x 0.9in
  • Weight: 10.8oz
  • Max output: 5V
  • Design and connectivity: USB-C port built into the top of the battery pack, on and off button, LED battery life indicator
  • Charging protection: Over-Current, Over-Voltage, Over-Discharge, Short Circuit

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-Carrier On smart suitcase has its flaws if you’re not an iPhone user. It appears the network had Apple’s handset in mind when designing the smart aspects of the bag. Sorry Android owners; yet again, some tech giants act like you don’t matter. A major blow I come to terms with regularly when products are so geared toward the iOS ecosystem.

The battery pack features—surprise, surprise—more branding. It’s a bit hefty when used outside of the suitcase, but the dose of power it provides makes up for that.

The wireless charging compartment is about 4.5 x 3.5in, which fits some phones (ahem, iPhones) snugly but leaves others out. For instance, I tried a go-to old Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. In the case, it was too thick and barely fit inside, awkwardly sticking out. It also wouldn’t charge in the case since I don’t have one that’s compatible with wireless charging. Without the case, the Note 10 Plus flopped around too much to do much charging. I’ve seen similar reports from others with non-Apple smartphones, such as the Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Since Apple’s iPhones are generally thinner than Android options, some of these, like the iPhone 14 Pro, would probably have the ideal fit, case included. I wish the wireless charging slot was a little deeper so it wouldn’t leave a couple of inches of your phone loose. But when wheeling my phone around, it never slipped out, so I don’t think the suitcase would fling your handset onto the floor.

The Elephant in the Room: Airline Regulations and the FCC

So, whether you’re an iPhone user or not doesn’t matter for a particular problem with the T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On. The main question is, is your airline going to let you take your fancy $300-plus smart bag with the battery pack on the plane?

You might remember back in 2017 when airlines cracked down on smart suitcase regulations. Yeah, TSA has it out for your batteries, but there’s a good reason: built-in batteries are a fire hazard in cargo holds. Since the Un-carrier On supposedly complies with regulations, they’ve made the battery pack removable and within the max 10-watt hours regulations.

That means if you plan to check your Un-carrier On, you can take the battery pack out and pop it inside your carry-on suitcase or bag and hopefully be on your way. TSA says you can’t check a bag containing a lithium battery such as this power bank, so don’t even try.

If you take the Un-carrier On as your carry-on bag, as the name so cleverly suggests you should, you may not have any issues leaving the pack in the spring-loaded slot, but I’d still chuck it inside the bag to be safe.

The portable power bank should be okay to take through TSA and on a plane in your carry-on, but the question rests on whether travelers will have trouble boarding with this battery pack or even remember these regulations amid the hustle and bustle.

As of now, the Un-carrier On is still subject to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) compliance. Until it passes, Samsara and T-Mobile aren’t charging people who’ve placed preorders. If you order one, you have to wait for the FCC to authorize it, and then you’ll see the $325 charge that makes it official: you’ve just spent a good wad of cash for a little monster of magenta.

According to the bag’s user guide, once shipped to you, the bag complies with part 15 of FCC rules, i.e., that the device can’t cause “harmful interference” and “must accept any interference received.” That’s a fancy way of saying your battery pack can’t interfere with important communications during air travel, so you don’t unwittingly cause a tragic accident just because your phone needed some juice.

Performance as a Suitcase

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On smart suitcase standing outdoors.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

As a suitcase, the T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On works great. Its four wheels rotate smoothly, it fits a decent amount of clothing and belongings, and it has a nice locking mechanism. Do I see myself using the smart features much? Probably not. I’m not putting my laptop on top of my suitcase to use it like a desk, and I can’t imagine most people would deign to do this either.

Wireless charging works well if your phone fits in the slot correctly, but since mine was loose, I preferred wired charging. The AirTag luggage tracker is probably the most useful of these smart features and the most practical.

I used the suitcase regularly for a week and found its overall performance good—but the price tag is still a sticking point when you could buy a cheaper carry-on suitcase and a portable battery pack for less. The wireless charging gimmick is a great idea, but this design doesn’t have enough finesse for most to make it worth the premium price.

T-Mobile has had success in its other tech pursuits, like the T-Mobile REVVL 6 Pro, a leading unlimited plan, and 5G-powered phone calls, but as far as smart luggage goes, this launch is less than perfect.

Apple AirTag Tracking

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On's back with the Apple AirTag.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

  • AirTag compatibility: Requires iPhone SE, iPhone 6s or newer
  • AirTag measurements: 0.31 x 0.31in (8.0 x 8.0mm)
  • AirTag weight: 0.39oz (11g)

I quickly installed the Apple AirTag. I don’t have an iPhone, so I had to trust that the new AirTag functioned. Sadly, other smart tracking tags, like the Samsung Galaxy Tag or Anker’s Eufy SmartTrack Link, won’t fit in the Un-carrier On’s designated holder. If you plan on using the AirTag with your T-Mobile Un-Carrier On, take note that you won’t need to charge an AirTag; your AirTag will need a battery change after about a year.

While Apple’s useful “Find My” network is a nice addition to a smart bag—more useful than a “desk” on top of your suitcase, who’d have thought?—it would’ve been nice if T-Mobile considered their other customers with Android devices and made the AirTag holder compatible with a broader range of tracker sizes.

Battery Life: Sufficient for Average Trips

The T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On battery pack laying on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / Review Geek

  • Battery life: Estimated up to 10 hours of charge

I had zero issues using the T-Mobile Samsara Un-Carrier On’s removable battery pack with a USB-C cable. A USB-C wired connection gave my phone a swift charge. As a rule, super-fast charging gave my phone 88% battery life in about an hour.

The charger lasts up to 10 hours when you’re using it (I found the estimate to be true), so it’s sufficient for most trips. However, if you’re using it nonstop, it may die faster. If you’re taking a longer trip, you’ll want to recharge the pack or bring a backup battery bank.

Wireless charging worked well enough. When charging my phone with a USB-C cable, it registered as Super Fast Charging with about 42 minutes left. Switching to wireless charging less than a minute later, my phone displayed a Fast Charging status and estimated 51 minutes until fully charged.

Throughout a single charge, I estimated up to 2 full phone charges before I needed to plug the battery pack in, which is decent for a traveler’s portable battery.

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Should You Buy the T-Mobile Samara Un-carrier On Smart Suitcase?

The look of this expensive smart suitcase will turn a lot of people off, especially since you can get a different carry-on from Samsara with similar features (i.e., any in the Tag Smart line that caters to Apple users) and skip the gouache branding T-Mobile has plastered all over the bag. But if you’re a T-Mobile superfan or love the color magenta, I get it: this is a limited-edition bag that’ll definitely stand out from the crowd. I personally loved the loud color and bag functionality but disliked the excessive T-Mobile branding.

As for the other smart features, they need some work. If you’re an Apple user and have an iPhone, this suitcase will probably make you a happy traveler and work as intended. Just remember to remove the battery pack if you need to check the bag. If you use it as a carry-on as intended, just hope there are no issues getting on your plane.

Sadly, the listing for the suitcase says the Un-carrier On isn’t eligible for any promotions or discounts, so if you really want one, you’ll have to shell out the dough. You can get the T-Mobile Samsara Un-carrier On smart suitcase for preorder for $325 while supplies last, and it’s scheduled to ship sometime after the FCC authorizes it.

Rating:
7/10
Price:
Starting At $325.00

Here’s What We Like

  • Nice organization options
  • Sturdy bag build
  • Effective wireless charger
  • Smooth wheels
  • It's easy to eject the battery

And What We Don't

  • Most phones don't fit into the wireless charging phone compartment
  • The airline lithium-ion battery requirements can be complicated if you don't know the restrictions
  • The magenta color might be a turn-off for some
  • It's expensive

Cianna Garrison Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison has over five years of experience writing everything from food news and limited-time products to the details on the latest iPhones and earbuds. In the past, she’s worked for online magazines, blogs, and more, with technology and social media being one of her primary interests. Read Full Bio »