Cell Phone Cheapness: Pay-As-You-Go vs. iPhone

Last year we gave up our monthly minute cell phone plan and went the pay as you go route. We went from 700 minutes per month to about 2,000 minutes per year. And we went from paying roughly $800 a year to about $300.

It helps that we don’t text that often, have a phone at home (VOIP actually) and I just don’t use a cell phone much. The savings seem like a no-brainer.

But now the iPhone is looking more and more tempting. I may not use a cell phone much, but the idea of having the Internet at my fingertips is pretty tempting. I refuse to become one of those obnoxious people who checks Twitter in the middle of a real life conversation, but I still think I could make good use of an iPhone. Even more so now that the Table Project has released their iPhone app.

Yet every time I’m tempted by an iPhone I crunch the numbers and try not to choke. Two-year cost for my current, cheapo, pay-as-you-go plan? About $600. Two-year cost for an iPhone with minimal minutes and middle-of-the-road data? About $3,000. (That’s two phones, by the way. My wife would kill me if I got an iPhone and left her with the cheapo phone.) That’s a $2,400 difference.

Whoa.

Now when I’m tempted I think about what I could do with $2,400.

(The funny thing is I’ll probably find some work-related reason why I need an iPhone and I’ll look back at this post and feel embarrassed. Kind of like when I blogged about returning my Wii in 2008, only to buy one in 2011 and play it nearly every day. Or like when I blogged about how much I hate public speaking, only to agree to more public speaking.)

6 thoughts on “Cell Phone Cheapness: Pay-As-You-Go vs. iPhone”

  1. A few other options…

    iPod Touch. Wifi is in so many places that you can still take advantage of a lot of the apps, but without the monthly charge. Downside is that you have to carry around another device. But not all the time.

    iPad 3G. They are bigger, but you can get one with just 3G data for like $20/mo. That’s not too bad.

  2. Yep, we actually have an iPod Touch (came free with a laptop purchase a couple years ago) and I got my wife an iPad (wifi only) for Mother’s Day.

    The iPhone is so tempting for it’s all-in-one features. I could carry my crappy cell phone and the iPod Touch and my camera, but I don’t. Too much stuff.

  3. Whoa, Virgin Mobile ad over there pushing the Droid is pretty tempting. (Not that I’m encouraging you to click on the ads, Google frowns on that.)

    Not sure if I could go outside the cult though. ;-)

  4. Yeah, I’ve been carrying a Palm Pre and an iPod Touch (plus camera and sometimes a Flip) for about 2 years. My Sprint contract is up, so I’m just waiting for the new iPhone to be released. Thankfully work does pay for some of it. But I’ll be going from 4 devices to 1. Can’t wait.

    Oh, and thanks for reminding me of the costs :)

  5. FWIW, T-mobile has a decent pay-as-you-go 3G plan. $1.50 per 24 hours, unlimited access, although they lower your speed after 30 MB. Even if you use it every day, it works out to $45/month, which is comparable to other plans. You can use it with some pretty nice Android phones, too.

    Plus, wifi is always free.

  6. Don’t buy an iPhone yet… the new one is supposed to be just around the corner. Of course rumors abound but word is it’ll be on multiple networks so you may be able to get an unlimited plan with Sprint… or you can get an iPhone 4 for a $100 or so less if you don’t want the latest and greatest.
    Personally, I stuck with the iPhone because I found a refurbed iPhone 4 for $99 on AT&T’s website. I couldn’t beat that with any Android phone.

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