The iPhone will cost me at least US$2245, how about you?

So now that the very slick Apple iPhone TV ads are available for viewing, I am sure many of us have our gadget lust peaked and are thinking about what our iPhone acquisition strategy may be on 29 June. As compelling as the iPhone looks, there are also many of us who are not AT&T customers and are locked into other carriers for a period of up to 2 years. My personal situation results in a couple of alternatives for me to get an iPhone, with a total price difference for 2 years of service totaling at least US$2,245 or US$2,383 and after putting it down on paper I may actually go for it so check out the details below if you are with another carrier and thinking about the switch or addition. If you are with another wireless carrier, have you been considering the Apple iPhone and AT&T service too?

iPhone June 29
So now that the very slick Apple iPhone TV ads are available for viewing, I am sure many of us have our gadget lust peaked and are thinking about what our iPhone acquisition strategy may be on 29 June. As compelling as the iPhone looks, there are also many of us who are not AT&T customers and are locked into other carriers for a period of up to 2 years. My personal situation results in a couple of alternatives for me to get an iPhone, with a total price difference for 2 years of service totaling at least US$2,245 or US$2,383 and after putting it down on paper I may actually go for it so check out the details below if you are with another carrier and thinking about the switch or addition.

Current T-Mobile Family Plan: I currently have 4 mobile phones on the T-Mobile 2000 minute family plan with unlimited text messaging and unlimited internet. The services and costs are as follows:

  • T-Mobile 2,000 minute family plan - US$99.99/month
  • Cost for each additional phone - US$9.99 (total US$29.97)
  • Unlimited family plan text messages - US$9.99
  • Unlimited internet (EDGE and T-Mobile HotSpot - US$29.99
  • Usual monthly taxes and fees - US$20
  • Total cost of monthly services - US$189.94

Strategy A: Add AT&T and keep T-Mobile service: Given the current family plan I have above and now adding AT&T and an iPhone while keeping my T-Mobile service yields the following costs:

  • AT&T 450 minute individual plan - US$39.99/month (There may be a minimum required voice plan to get the iPhone too.)
  • Unlimited data plan - US$39.99 (final data price still unknown for iPhone)
  • Estimated monthly taxes and fees - US$15
  • Total cost of montly services - US$94.98 (net increase in monthly costs would be US$64.99 since I would drop T-Mobile data plan, US$39.99 - US$29.99 for a US$10 net cost increase for data)

One time costs:

  • Apple iPhone - US$650 (includes taxes)
  • Activation fees - US$36
  • Total - US$686

So I would have to fork over US$686 for one time costs and then US$64.99 per month more than what I pay for T-Mobile for a period of 24 months which totals US$1,559.76. Thus Strategy A yields a total additional cost out of pocket for the iPhone and AT&T service of US$2,245.76.

Strategy B: Switch entire family to AT&T: Given the current family plan I have above and now dropping T-Mobile completely while adding AT&T and an iPhone with the same type of family plan yields the following costs:

  • AT&T 2,100 minute family plan - US$109.99/month
  • Cost for each additional phone - US$9.99 (total US$29.97)
  • Messaging starter (200 text messages) for each phone - US$4.99 (total US$19.96) Why doesn't AT&T have a family plan text messaging option?
  • Unlimited data plan - US$39.99 (final data price still unknown for iPhone)
  • Estimated monthly taxes and fees - US$20
  • Total cost of monthly services - US$219.91

One time costs:

  • Apple iPhone - US$650 (includes taxes)
  • New family phones (est.) - US$100, assuming my wife doesn't want an iPhone :)
  • Activation fees - US$114
  • T-Mobile service cancellation fees (US$200/phone) - US$800
  • Total - US$1664

So I would have to fork over US$1664 for one time costs and then US$29.97 per month more than what I pay for T-Mobile for a period of 24 months which totals US$719.28. Thus Strategy B yields a total additional cost out of pocket for the iPhone and AT&T service of US$2,383.28. If I didn't have to pay those crazy US$800 cancellation fees this option would only have an out of pocket increase in cost of US$1,583.28 and I would select it without hesitation. The one-time costs and lower monthly costs are actually more attractive to me since I think I could more easily swallow only seeing the higher costs once, rather than monthly.

Differences between AT&T and T-Mobile: T-Mobile only supports EDGE as its fastest data speed, which is somewhere between 120-140 kbps in most cases. AT&T supports EDGE, UMTS (250-350 kbps in most cases), and HSDPA (750-880 kbps in most cases with theoretical speed of 1.8 mbps), although the iPhone is limited to EDGE. However, I do have other SIM unlocked devices with 3G capability and could finally take advantage of the high speed, 3G data networks the devices are designed to support. There are a few tri-band devices I have under evaluation that do not support the 850 MHz band, but most new devices have quad-band so this is really a minor concern.

There are no rollover minutes with T-Mobile like there are with AT&T and sometimes this would be handy to have. AT&T doesn't have an unlimited text message family plan option, but I think 200 messages each may be enough for our family at this time anyways. T-Mobile customer service has always been excellent and I do not have any personal experience with AT&T/Cingular so I'll have to search around for some feedback on this aspect. Cingular has been coming out with some cool devices (BlackJack, Nokia N76, BlackBerry Curve, AT&T 8525, Treo 680, and Treo 750), but T-Mobile does have the Dash and Wing. I get a full signal in my house with T-Mobile and AT&T (I had a test SIM for a month) so that isn't an issue. I will have to get all my numbers transferred over, which was a bit of a pain the last time I did it 4 years ago.

There is very little difference in cost between adding an AT&T line of service or switching everyone to AT&T, but it would be easier to manage a single account and SIM rather than carrying an extra phone or swapping SIM cards all the time. I would love to have the AT&T 3G data service so I could pop it into my review devices and experience 3G so I am leaning towards this option.

Quick thoughts on the iPhone: While the iPhone runs on the EDGE data network and there are still many unknowns about the device, it looks slick and I really like Apple products. I use a MacBook Pro as my primary home PC and have been using Apple computers since 1989. I would love to have a widescreen video iPod and the iPhone is the only solution for that functionality. The non-removable battery option concerns me a bit, but I am sure there will be 3rd party solutions soon (although that will add bulk to the device). Being that this is the first device I am sure it will also be buggy like other Apple products, but as a gadget freak and early adopter there has to be someone out there like us that takes the bold step forward and forks over the big bucks to help our fellow citizens.

Bottom line: So after laying this all out on paper, I am seriously considering a switch of my entire family from T-Mobile to AT&T and you may see me in line on 29 June along with the other rabid Apple fans. I may even look at going with a different device, like the Treo 750, and AT&T service now that I mapped out all my costs.

UPDATED: The iPhone voice and data plans have been posted on the Apple site and I offer a revised Strategy A below. Due to the much lower than anticipated data/voice plans, you will most likely see me in line on Friday hoping to pick up an iPhone.

Strategy A - Revised: Add AT&T and keep T-Mobile family plan: Given the current family plan I have above and now adding AT&T and an iPhone while keeping my T-Mobile service yields the following costs:

  • AT&T 450 minute individual iPhone plan - US$59.99/month
  • Unlimited data plan - included in monthly plan cost
  • Estimated monthly taxes and fees - US$10
  • Total cost of montly services - US$69.99 (net increase in monthly costs would be US$40 since I would drop the US$29.99 T-Mobile data plan)

One time costs:

  • Apple iPhone - US$650 (includes taxes)
  • Activation fees - US$36
  • Total - US$686

So my new total to pick up an iPhone would be US$686 for one time costs and then US$40 per month more than what I pay for T-Mobile for a period of 24 months which totals US$960. Thus my revised Strategy A yields a total additional cost out of pocket for the iPhone and AT&T service of US$1,646.

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