Smartphone costs? A quick sampling.
So I was looking into getting a better plan for my iphone 3gs (or get a new phone) and wanted to compare the costs of going with any of the big 4 vs. one carrier in particular: Credo. Credo runs on the Sprint network, but they also support various political or social causes through a small kickback that goes to non-profits dealing with said causes. They also claim to be cheapest. I currently have a prepaid plan through truphone which is based out of the UK. I pay per MB, text or minute. This means I don’t use my phone except when I need it. In reality, I text almost exclusively, talk rarely and only access data if I have to or dearly want to.
The one main advantage that truphone has is its international capacity for decent rates in a few countries and ok rates in several more. If you don’t want to buy a phone or sim card when traveling, or use your domestic phone at super high rates, then this can work reasonably well. I can also get a separate number for a few countries like the UK and Australia (huh?). Unfortunately, I’m still limited by the same constraints I have using the sim here in the states: it’s expensive unless you use it rarely.
When we last traveled to France (and the UK for 2.5 weeks) for 14 weeks total, my friend Jordan, who lives in Paris, set up my jailbroke and unlocked iphone 2g for tethering, and I borrowed his brother’s card, Rob, at 20 day intervals (that was the deal for unlimited data and text) for 20-30 Euros (I can’t remember the exact amount). Because it was an iphone 2g, we only had Edge, but it worked very well with almost no issues. Edge only allowed us to check email and browse a limited number of sites. If we wanted to blog, it would have taken too long unless we avoided pictures and video. Hence, we didn’t blog unless we had wifi.
The following chart is based on the 4 big carriers and credo. I know there are other companies like Virgin, etc., but I assume if I don’t go with one of the big four, I’d rather support a company that supports important issues as long as that company is cheaper to have a smartphone than the big 4 (not the ones in Cuvier Rempart :) ). The figures are based on the cheapest plans possible, and it covers the first 2 years then adds the third year separately and in total (because one company makes it cheaper after the second year, T-mobile). Regarding tmo, it will unlock your phone once it’s paid off, meaning if you pay for the phone in full, it can be unlocked immediately (important if you want to travel overseas to a gsm country). Another interesting feature that tmo offers is they don’t charge extra for data overuse, instead they offer high speed use until your limit is reached (if you have one) then throttle it back; unfortunately, I couldn’t find out what that means exactly, but I assume it means maybe edge or 2g. I currently use 2g on my 3gs and it works fine for basics. It definitely isn’t for power users.
The chart takes a bit to get acquainted with, but unless I made a mistake, it’s rather obvious how cheap Credo is, or how expensive Verizon is. Seriously, Veri$on is absurd with AT$T and Sprint in a close second. The bold and italicized figures are for the 2 year and 3 year total costs. The most amazing thing is how cheap a phone company can be AND still support causes. Or to put it another way, if they aren’t spending it on lobbying, they can spend it on other things, like less expensive service and/or support for need-based programs. There’s quite a bit a difference between each basic plan, but if you aren’t a power user, it doesn’t matter that much. The only one that did matter was whether they charged for overage on data or phone minutes.
Since Credo uses the Sprint network, I had to choose an android or Blackberry phone. I picked the HTC 1 just because… I still don’t want an android-based phone, but I wanted to see if it was worth it to change. It is, but… I want an iPhone. Also, Credo requires you to pick one of their phones, but who they support, non-profit wise, is based on members nominating organizations, and on their staff picking the final ones. Because fragmentation is an important issue, it seems only a Motorola phone might be least affected by it; Motorola Mobility is owned by Google, but I digress.