The true cost of owning a Smart Phone

by mac on April 13, 2010

A few years ago, seeing people carry smart phones was rare. Now, most people own one or another. And when I say “smart phone”, I use the definition loosely defined at Wikipedia:

“A smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality (PC-mobile handset convergence).”

Think Blackberries, any phone with the Android OS, Windows Mobile, and iPhones. This list is not exhaustive, as more mobile operating systems are developed each year.

Anyway, a customer goes to a store, say the Apple Store, and buys a new iPhone 3GS 32gb. Subsidized phone cost: $299. AT&T activation cost: $36. Cheapest voice plan: $40/month, Required data plan: $30/month. Optional 200/text msgs/month: $5. First month price: $411+taxes. Each month after that: $75+tax.

So that’s a start. But it doesn’t end there. Has there ever been an iPhone owner who didn’t purchase apps at the venerable Apple App Store? Add at least another $5/month for app purchases, though that number will probably be higher.

Finally, the contract every iPhone user has to agree to lasts 2 years. So, we’ve got 24 months x 80 = $1920 + the phone at $300 + activation = $2256 in total. Ouch.

And I thought I was saving money by ditching my landline years ago, but instead I put the money saved, plus a pile more, into smartphone plans. Prior to smartphones, my monthly cost was $35 (plus tax) for a grand total of $840+$100 phone = $940. But really, I had a Motorola Razr. Was I happy? No. Am I happy with a latest generation iPhone? Hell yes. :)

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