Just over two weeks ago, I did something decidedly un-frugal. I dropped my Sprint SERO plan in favor of AT&T and an iPhone. That’s right… I willingly ditched a plan that gave me 500 anytime minutes, unlimited text messages, and unlimited data for $30/month. And do you know what? I’m glad that I did.
What was I thinking?
While the Sprint SERO plan is undoubtedly a killer deal, we can’t get a decent Sprint signal at our house. In other words, we’ve been largely unable to use our cell phones at home for the past three years. Aside from being a big inconvenience, the lack of cell service at our house also meant we couldn’t subsidize our long distance service with our cell phones.
Beyond this, my wife and I recently decided to get a cell phone for our oldest son. She also had a SERO plan, and guess what? You can’t add lines to SERO plans. That meant either sticking with our crappy Sprint service and getting him a pay-as-you-go phone, or switching carriers and getting a family plan of some sort. We chose the latter since we’re sick and tired of being unable to use our phones at home.
So why did we choose AT&T? There were a few reasons.
For starters, we live in former BellSouth territory. For those that are unaware, BellSouth Wireless morphed into Cingular Wireless, which was ultimately gobbled up by AT&T when they bought BellSouth. As such, AT&T provides by far the best coverage of our area.
Beyond great coverage, we have an AT&T landline. Thus, we’re eligible to sign up for a “Unity” plan. This gives us unlimited calls to and from AT&T landlines anywhere in the country, and it costs nothing more than a “regular” plan with the same number of minutes. Since we’re now in AT&T country, pretty much none of our local calls count against our minutes.
Finally, I’ve been a lifelong Apple devotee, and have been patiently waiting for the right time to get an iPhone. I finally made the decision to go for it this past winter, but was waiting for the next round of handset upgrades before pulling the trigger. This summer, Apple released the 3Gs, and the rest is history.
Loving my iPhone
My last phone was a Palm Centro. While it was certainly a capable little smartphone, it couldn’t hold a candle to my new iPhone 3Gs. This thing doubles as my iPod, has a 3 megapixel camera that take surprisingly good pictures, and has tons of useful apps (another topic for another day). I pretty much have a mini computer in my pocket.
I’ve configured things such that my e-mail, calendar, and contacts sync seamlessly (and wirelessly!) between my laptop, Google, and my iPhone. It’s a thing of beauty. This sort of connectivity is huge for a guy like me who is not only on the go, but also highly dependent on the internet.
I could go on and on about how much I love my new setup, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say this: It’s awesome.
The high cost of awesome
Despite all the rah-rah cheerleading above, there most definitely is a downside to owning an iPhone… It’s expensive. Not only did I have to abandon my uber-cheap SERO plan, but I also have to pay the $30/month iPhone data fee. And guess what? Text messaging costs extra.
In the end, we traded our 2 x $30 SERO plans for an AT&T family plan. The base price is $69.99, and we get two lines with 700 minutes. On top of this, we pay a $30 data fee for my iPhone, $9.99 for an additional line for our son, and $30/month for unlimited text messaging for the family. Thus, our bill now stands at an eye-popping $140/month before taxes and discounts.
We get a few discounts to go along with this, including about $10 off our AT&T landline and DSL (combined) as well as a 15% discount through my employer (applies only to the primary line, so about $10/month), but still… It’s pricey.
Do I have any regrets? No. We now have cell phones that work at our house and an extra line for our son. The iPhone is an extravagance, but it’s an extravagance that we can afford, and one that’s worth the price of admission (at least to me).