A mutiny is brewing at home, and I don’t know how much longer I can hold it off.
Our cell phone contract expired in August which means we are eligible for a handset upgrade, or able to change carriers without penalty at any time. With scratched screens, odd behaviors, and increased frequency of complete “lockups” our phones are beginning to tell us they are nearing end of life. Chances are we will need to make a move soon, and if that move doesn’t include the iPhone as an option I fear I may come home one day to find the locks changed on the front door. My wife and son both have an iPod touch, and it makes sense to them to have a single device for their phone and music player using an interface they already know and love.
What we’re going to do with our cell phones is a topic that has been raised and discussed many times. I’ve recently performed mystery shopping jobs at each of the major carriers, in the process accumulating phone and plan pricing information from each of them. We all agree that the iPhone5 is too new and too expensive. We’d likely get the iPhone4 (free) or iPhone4S ($100). Both my wife and my son have indicated they would gladly sell the iPods and use the cash to help offset the price of the coveted iPhone. But it’s not the price of the phone that is making me drag my heels at making the move.
It’s the cost of the plans.
Here’s a breakdown of our current plan, as well as an example plan with 4 smart phones with one of the major carriers:
Current Plan: Smart Phone Plan:
Base Plan (2 lines) : $70 6GB Data Plan : $ 90
Extra Lines (2) : $20 Line access (4) : $140
Unlimited Texting : $20
Limited Data Plan : $10
Total : $120 Total : $230
Things were much different when we picked out our current phones two years ago, as smart phones were just beginning their ascent to popularity. We chose phones that we could get for free with our handset upgrade eligibility and did not require a data plan. If my family of four were to now enter into the smart phone era, our monthly cell phone bill would increase about $110 a month.
That’s an extra $2640 over the life of a two year contract.
I used to poke fun at my friends with their smart phones telling them my favorite “app” was the one that lets me press numbers and talk to people. But these devices have become so much more than just a phone. They’re entertainment centers offering access to music, movies and games. They offer GPS, digital camera and video recording capability. With web access, phone numbers and directions can be found and trivia disagreements with friends can be resolved with a simple Google search.
Convenient, useful and entertaining? Very.
It’s not a question of whether we can afford it. Vonnie and I have ran the numbers more than once and with the recent increase in our income it fits in our budget. Will moving to smart phones be worth an extra $2640 over the next two years? I stare at the pricing sheets almost every day trying to answer this question, and I’m struggling to find the answer. I don’t want to do it just because so many other people have smart phones. However, if it adds a proportional amount of usefulness, entertainment, and convenience to our lives, then show me where to sign my name.
How much is your smart phone costing you? Is it really worth it?