smartphone research, and seeking advice

my phone research let me show you it.

So... I want a smartphone. And thanks to a recent windfall, I can now almost justify getting one. But, I have serious, serious reservations about jumping in to the deep end of the pool in terms of monthly contracts. For reference, with my pay-as-you-go plan from Virgin Mobile, right now I spend $20-30 a month. (I make few calls, I send few text messages, and I don't do twitter.) So if I buy a smartphone that will be a pretty big cost difference.

Anyway I've been researching and waiting. I've come to the conclusion that what I really want -- a pay-as-you-go smartphone -- does not exist, and isn't going to anytime soon. So then, what are my options, and how do they stack up?

HTC IncredibleHTC EVOiPhone 4Google Nexus One unlockedGoogle Nexus One
Up Front:200200200530180
Total cost 1 year:11001040104012501139
Total cost 2 years:20001880188019702099
Total cost 3 years:29002720272026903059
what?very well reviewedno battery life, too much like a monster trucktoo Apple, but.. probably a really good contract, but also less support = ??too much $.

As you can tell I'm deciding between an Android phone and an iPhone, and my preference is leaning slightly towards the Android, but only slightly. 

It turns out they all cost about the same. Especially since, if I'm going to be honest with myself, I can be pretty hard on my devices, and a phone I buy might not last 3, or even 2 years. So there's the replacement/repair cost to be considered as well, and that makes an unlocked phone relatively less attractive.

It's striking to compare the cost of a phone with the cost of, for example, a TV. A television lasts maybe 5-10 years. If it lasts just 5 years, and I spend $700 on it, then my cell phone is more than 6 times as expensive as my TV. (Of course, that doesn't count netflix or cable subscriptions... but it also doesn't count phone overage or apps.)

No decision has been reached. Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

*Raw research:
android phones

Verizon - HTC Incredible
$200 + $75/mo
($39.99 plan + $29.99 data + $5 text (200 messages))

Sprint HTC EVO
$200 + $70/mo

AT&T - iPhone 4
$200 + $70/mo (down to $60/mo with 200MB data limit... interesting but annoying...)

T-Mobile - Nexus One
$530 + $60/mo
Nexus One Contract
$179 + $80/mo


  1. You can get the iPhone contract free for another 400 smackers. $15 a month plus the cheapest voice plan of like $40 a month would only be $55 a month. As much as I hate AT&T, that's not too bad. If you discover that you can run iPhone 4 on AT&T's Pay-as-You-Go voice plan (with or without the $15 a month data plan) let me know because I would actually go for that. (As soon as Apple makes a 64 GB iPhone to replace my iPod touch).

    My brother has an older Android phone and he loves the Google services integration (Google Voice, Gmail). Of course iPhone has Google Calendar and Google Contacts integration (using Exchange) but the Google Voice (receiving SMS, etc.) part is lacking (and Gmail web app and Apple email are pretty good overall for Gmail support but probably not as good as Android's Gmail support).

    You will probably end up enjoying even the free iPhone games quite a bit, it's quite a platform (I have the iPod touch and I haven't bought any games but I've played many decent ones and some excellent ones).

    If you are ideologically opposed to Apple's walled garden App store shenanigans (and take on Flash) you may be bothered even more when you start to enjoy how good the entire platform is as a whole. It could haunt you. (Or you could find that you really don't care and that HTML5 support is pretty good.)

    Android's support for Flash will not likely enable you to play or test games of the caliber of KFPW any time in the next few years if you buy a phone this summer. (I'd be impressed to be proven wrong.)

  2. I'm worried that 200MB a month is a limit that will really hurt, if I actually start using the phone. But maybe not? It's hard to say since I have basically zero experience with my own phone-bandwidth habits.

    And I also think it'll be cheaper to just buy the $5 rock bottom text messaging plan, since I send/receive maybe 50 or so total a month. So $60 a month at minimum, which could easily jump right back to 70 if I want to use the data.

    Apple's walled garden does bother me a little. I think I could put up with it though, I'm frankly not hard-core enough to care/notice. But just from the standpoint of which company would I rather support, it's probably Google.

  3. I'm facing the same issue. Iphone4 would win, if it had any other service provider. As it is, I *think* I can wait for the Droid successor (Droid2), I've got the first one and it's pretty good.

    The feature none seems to have is touchscreen cursor keys, which I'd kind of like better than drag scrolling, which can accidentally button-press.