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Total Cost of Mobile Phone Ownership



ownershipAs we enter the summer of the smartphone wars this might become a handy reference. This chart from Dvorak Uncensored doesn’t cover all the options, but it lays out some of them quite nicely for those who have price as a primary concern when it comes to owning a new phone. Other things obviously come into play here as well.

See the full chart after the jump.




  1. GoodThings2Life

    06/11/2009 at 10:07 am

    Yep, that pretty much sums it up nicely.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    06/11/2009 at 10:09 am

    PS– Don’t the G1 and Pre also have SD card slots for expandable storage? Plus, they both definitely have swappable batteries.

  3. Sumocat

    06/11/2009 at 10:35 am

    GT2L: The Pre was rumored to have a microSD card slot, but that apparently got nixed in the final.

    Also, does the G1 still only come with a 1GB card? They need to bump that up to at least 8GB. 1GB is practically a throw-away (i.e., I’d buy a bigger card and forget where I put the old one).

  4. JC

    06/11/2009 at 11:36 am

    As usual, we all have to do our own calculations. e.g., if I don’t need unlimited minutes or text messaging the calculation changes for all three phones somewhat (although that may not affect the bottom line ultimately). Also, the chart is misleading in that it implies that the Palm App Catalog and the Android Market are truly the equivalent of the Apple App Store. Maybe in a year or two perhaps, but right now, no.

    What this chart does is explain why I don’t like comparison matrices. They’re reductive in ways that don’t necessarily get to the essence of a good comparison. The app store row on the chart is a good example of how it fails to make an accurate comparison, for example. It assumes that actual user experience isn’t important because it doesn’t have a column for this. (e.g., if the Pre has an utterly brilliant user experience, we don’t account for it here.) It decides for you what is important and what isn’t based on the size of type.

    Ultimately, we all have to think for ourselves. I don’t see this chart helping me with that. If your criteria happen to match those of who made this chart, then good for you.

  5. Stuart

    06/11/2009 at 12:46 pm

    The title of this article is misleading and so is the total costs. The total costs don’t include the cost of the device. It is just the total cost of a 24 month subscription of unlimited text, voice and data. None of the Nokia N Series or E series smartphones are considered.

    I would much rather get an unlocked GSM phone (with the Pre will be available shortly) and just pay for the phone and choose whatever options and service I like. Then the cost of a phone is just the cost of a phone. And how I want to use it is something different.

  6. Peter

    06/11/2009 at 2:56 pm

    OR, use the touchpro w/ a fatty sd card the SERO plan

    I have the ‘old’ plan so I get 500 min and everything for only $43 a month (after insurance and taxes). So I paid $286 for phone, plus $43 a month, plus $100 for a fatty sd card…

    =$1418 over 24 months :)

  7. BillShrink Guy

    06/11/2009 at 3:43 pm

    We have a new chart with some changes based on comment recommendations. Feel free to update.

  8. Mickey Segal

    06/12/2009 at 7:20 am

    One can argue about the details of such charts, but one important take-home message is that Apple’s decision to lower the price of one iPhone model from $199 to $99 is a total distraction from much larger cost issues. Much of the MSM reported on the new technologies as if there were no larger costs involved, and doing comparison charts is much more connected to reality.

    To overcome the limitations of such charts, it would be good to have a configurable chart, where people could specify their needs and see how the total costs would come out with all three models.

    I’d also include the model of getting an iPod Touch and an el-cheapo phone, a combination that can push the 24 month cost well under $1,000.

  9. Joe

    06/12/2009 at 11:42 am

    One thing I don’t like about the chart is that Sprint Navigation is included free in all plans that work on the Pre. On the iPhone, you’re going to have to buy TomTom for that, which in the past has been $100-200 on its own.

  10. mrpacs

    06/14/2009 at 9:32 pm

    I love my iPhone and would pay ANYTHING for it.

  11. Christopher

    06/15/2009 at 1:35 pm

    I had never thought about the long term ownership costs of owning my phone – just worried about my monthly bottom line. Quite eye-opening!

  12. Bowler

    06/16/2009 at 10:14 pm

    iPhone’s more expensive, but well worth it

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