“Skip the iPhone? Are you crazy?!” Perhaps, but hear me out. First, I’ll declare that I am not an “Apple Hater”, I owned the very first iPhone upon it’s release date, but have since, switched to various other unlocked smartphones to save money, among other reasons. With the recent release of the iPhone 4s, millions of people are
thinking about to renew their cellular plan. But think again – how much will the iPhone really cost? Engadget compares the true cost of the iPhone 4s across it’s three carriers; AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. They conclude that:
The cheapest taste of the iPhone comes courtesy of AT&T with 450 minutes and 200MB of data for $55 before additional taxes and fees — but sadly, those numbers won’t afford music / video fanatics very much streaming. Per month, the plans range from around $55 for the lowest end of the range to $170 for Verizon’s unlimited talk / text and 12GB worth of data. Sprint’s plan sets itself apart from the pack by offering truly unlimited, uncapped data as part of its voice plans whereas the others taper off at 12GB or even 4GB (AT&T).
That’s $55 for the bare minimum, the semi-unlimited (4GB cap) will set you back a cool $115 a month. That doesn’t even include how much you’ll inevitably spend in iTunes and the App Store. If you’re dead set on getting an iPhone – a few of the tips I’ll share could potentially lower your plan to around $70 a month, for but maximum benefit, consider an unlocked smartphone.
It’s simple – get an unlocked smartphone that AT&T does not carry.
Here’s why: AT&T identifies what phone you have based on your phones IMEI number, if AT&T does not sell that phone (and thus won’t have it in it’s database), AT&T won’t know what phone you have. Thus, you can get the unlimited data plan made for “dumb phones” (aka non-smartphones). This plan is not only much cheaper – but there is zero difference in speed. AND, there is no data cap.
I would agree that Apple delivers the best user experience, but there are other phones (some with even better specs) that can offer a similar experience. Remember, look for a phone that AT&T does not carry. A good place to start is Sony and Nokia. They’re popular for their unlocked smartphones and they release in international markets first, a primary reason why the hands down best place to look for the lowest prices is eBay (market is saturated with international and domestic sellers). Another good option is Amazon’s Marketplace (3rd party sellers). When shopping around, be sure to pick a phone that has support for AT&T’s 3g bands (850/1900MHz), as some phones were designed for T-Mobile (1700/2100MHz) or other international markets. Here are a list of AT&T-friendly phones that I recommend checking out:
1. I currently own the Sony Xperia Arc (LT15a). As a photo enthusiast, this phone, like all others I’ll recommend, comes equipped with a capable camera. Featuring an 8mp camera, the Arc also has one of the widest apertures on a smartphone at f/2.4, meaning more light for those tricky indoor situations. Lighter and slimmer than the iPhone, and in my opinion a bit sexier. You be the judge:
2. Before the Arc, I owned the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant. Yes, it’s a phone for T-Mobile that just happens to support AT&T’s 3g bands, which is not a common occurrence. But it won’t work for AT&T out of the box, and will require unlocking (free). Fortunately, it’s available already unlocked on Amazon starting around $200 for a pre-owned version and a search on eBay shows new versions starting at $300.
3. Before the Vibrant, came the Sony Satio (Idou). Quite possibly the sexiest phone I’ve ever seen in my life, it suffered from a clunky and now extinct OS – Symbian. I personally feel that you won’t get the full smartphone experience offered by iOS and Android, but if you want a unique phone coupled with one of the best cameras on the market, check eBay to see the phone alongside current prices.
4. Another phone I recommend, is the recently released Nokia N9. But it won’t come cheap, it’s currently starting on eBay for around $800+!
Browse eBay for other phones, like I mentioned a good place to start is Sony and Nokia. Samsung is another good source, however AT&T carries a lot of their phones. When you find a phone you’re interested in, subsequently search Google for “phone name AT&T”, and make sure AT&T doesn’t carry that phone. Here are a few search links to eBay to help you get started:
If you have any questions about a particular phone, feel free to ask in the comments below.
A few days after the release, a search on eBay shows the iPhone 4s for around $1000! While that will soon drop to around $500 over the next few months, if you’re eligible for an upgrade and purchase the iPhone 4s for the discounted price of $200, you can instantly resell for $500+. If you subtracted a $300 profit from the total cost of your plan on AT&T over the next year, you’re basically paying around $25 a month!
AT&T Business Programs - There are thousands of businesses and organizations affiliated with AT&T and there’s a good chance you’re eligible for a discount and you didn’t know about it. Enter your work affiliated e-mail in the field under “Qualify for Discounts.” If that doesn’t work, enter a school e-mail (.edu), most universities are eligible for discounts – which is great as most people are still connected to their Alma Mater. The amount discounted varies across organizations, but generally hovers around 15%.
BusinessInsider presents the 8 best apps for free unlimited text messaging. Google Voice is my personal favorite, and a popular choice.
With Google Voice, LifeHacker presents how to make unlimited free calls on your cellphone. Skype is another alternative (requires WiFi).
Combining an app like Google Voice with a personal WiFi hotspot, you can cancel your existing internet service provider (ISP) and switch to a service like Clear. Allowing you to have unlimited minutes, messaging, and data. The downside being that you have to carry the hotspot with you at all times. Clear isn’t available nationwide as of yet, so use Saveology to find and compare ISP’s.
Questions or comments? Ask below!
By +Jay Soriano
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