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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How the half-price iPhone 3G actually costs you more : Christopher Null : Yahoo! Tech

Not mentioned in today's you-can't-get-away-from-it iPhone 3G announcement: AT&T's service plan jumps $10 a month. What's this? Did Apple finally figure out what the rest of the retail world did: That when you give away the razor you can charge through the nose for the blades?

Let's look at the math.

Old iPhone: $399 (for 8GB of storage), plus $60 per month for 450 voice minutes and unlimited data. Two-year total (since you'll be signing a two-year deal for either handset): $1,839.

New iPhone: $199 (for 8GB of storage), plus $70 per month for a basic voice plan (presumably the same 450 minutes) and unlimited data. Two-year total: $1,879.

That's $40 more over the course of your contract, which is really not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Had AT&T and Apple raised monthly fees just another $5 per month, the total cost of service would have hit $1,999 over two years (not including taxes and fees).

"Business users" get the shaft, big-time, with a minimum of $85 a month for service. That's $15 a month extra just so you can get email via Exchange. Boo. Other annoyances: iPhone 3G will have to be activated in stores instead of at home, like before, and the phone won't be available to purchase online at launch.

Still, like I say, this isn't too bad. Putting aside the business user issue, $40 extra over two years doesn't sound like much, considering all the extra features and services the new iPhone packs in.

In fact, on paper the iPhone 3G has addressed almost all of my complaints regarding the original model from a year ago. But then again, I'm sure I'll be getting the $299 16GB model ... and don't forget those accessories too.

UPDATE: For those who've written regarding the time value of money, I did the math based on the present value of the iPhone to Apple at a 3% annual interest rate. The numbers: Original iPhone nets Apple/AT&T $1,795; new iPhone gets them $1,828.  So the new phone still costs you $33 in the end if you invest that $200 you would have otherwise spent on the hardware.

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