What the iPhone 3G Will Really Cost You  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

The cell phone market is a dizzying magic show of misdirection. The cheap prices you see for phones are usually for new customers only, with two-year contracts and mail-in rebates. And guess what? The Apple iPhone 3G is just another cell phone.

Because of "activation fees," "upgrade fees" and just plain fees, it turns out the "$199" iPhone never costs $199.

The cheapest price is actually $217. The 8GB iPhone will cost $199 plus an $18 "upgrade fee" – or $217 – if any of these things are true:

  • You have an original iPhone, or
  • You are out of contract, or
  • You have an AT&T plan of $99/month or more and you haven't gotten a new phone in 12 months, or
  • You have an AT&T plan of $69/month or more and you haven't gotten a new phone in 21 months.
The next tier up comes for new AT&T customers switching from another wireless carrier. They pay $199 plus a $36 activation fee, or $235.

If you're an AT&T customer who isn't eligible for the $199 upgrade (i.e. you're deep within your contract), the iPhone 3G will cost $399.

If you want your iPhone on July 11, AT&T says you'll have to sign up for a two-year contract. But "in the future," a prepaid option will be available – for $599.

The 16GB iPhone costs $100 more than the 8GB model in all cases – so, $317, or $335, or $499, or $699.

Got it? The service plans are also a pain, but they're just the usual, standard, run of the mill AT&T smart phone service plans. The iPhone isn't special in AT&T's systems any more; it's just an ordinary smart phone.

Typically, those service plans cost whatever a voice plan costs ($39.99-99.99/month), plus $30/month for data. But there's one extra catch: those plans don't include text messages. So you'll need to add $5/month for 200 messages, $15/month for 1500 messages or $20/month for unlimited messages. If you're buying the phone on a business account you have to tack on an extra $15/month, just because.

All of this is normal. Confusing, but normal. These price differences happen with every cell phone. It's just the way our market works.

This entry was posted on Jul 13, 2008 at 9:34 AM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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