The Poor Man’s iPhone?
With the latest price drop the Palm Pre is no longer the same price as the iPhone 3G. In fact, if you go to a Sprint store you’ll have to shell out $300 before a $100 mail in rebate for the phone. Apple will part with an iPhone 3G for just $99 now.
The problem is that the initial cost doesn’t matter, it’s deceptive. The iPhone 3G will cost you much longer in the long run.
Hardly the most generous wireless carrier, AT&T’s cost structure is as follows:
|AT&T iPhone 3G Plans with Unlimited Data||450 Minutes||900 Minutes||1350 Minutes||Unlimited Minutes|
|Monthly Cost with 200 Text Messages||$74.99||$94.99||$114.99||$134.99|
|Monthly Cost with Unlimited Text Messages||$89.99||$109.99||$129.99||$149.99|
A voice plan will cost you anywhere from $40 - $100 per month. The iPhone data plan is another $30 per month on top of that (required for the iPhone). If you want any sort of text messaging bundle that’s another $5 per month, or $20 per month for unlimited messaging. If you want unlimited everything that’s $149.99 per month from AT&T or $3600 over the course of your 24 month contract. Note that AT&T hasn’t announced pricing for tethering on the iPhone 3GS. I can’t wait to see what that’ll be like.
Sprint, admittedly not as popular of a carrier as AT&T, does a lot better.
Sprint’s data plan is unlimited...everything. You get unlimited data transfers (no tethering support), unlimited SMS and unlimited MMS. It’s included with every Palm Pre plan.
|Sprint Palm Pre Plans with Unlimited Data||450 Minutes||900 Minutes||Unlimited Minutes|
|Monthly Cost with Unlimited Text Messages||$69.99||$89.99||$99.99|
The only thing you have to choose is how many minutes you want. The 450 minute plan will set you back $70 per month, the 900 minute plan costs $90 and unlimited voice is $100. That’s $49 less per month than the equivalent bundle from AT&T, a savings of around $1200 over the course of two years.
Granted AT&T allows your unused minutes to rollover month to month, but Sprint lets your free nights and weekends start at 7PM instead of 9PM. Even taking that into account, there’s no getting around the fact that for a full featured account - Sprint is a lot cheaper.
If you don’t text a lot however, much of Sprint’s advantage disappears. I would hope that Sprint’s plans could pressure AT&T to include SMS/MMS in the unlimited data package (a SMS is data, isn’t it?), but until then if you want a more affordable monthly plan the Pre is the way to go. And no, Sprint’s SERO plans won’t work on the Pre.
Built in Turn-by-Turn Navigation
Another aspect of the Pre’s tremendous cost advantage is its free, out of the box, turn by turn navigation. The Pre has a GPS just like the iPhone 3G/3GS, but it also has a Sprint Navigation app that can be used as an in-car navigation device.
The nav works well and unfortunately, to get something similar from Apple you need to buy the currently unavailable Tom Tom app. There’s no word on pricing as of yet.