When it comes to buying a mobile phone, there’s more to consider than just the up-front price tag. The “total cost of ownership” (TCO) is sometimes a more revealing way to consider the overall cost of a particular cellphone. Especially when two phones offer similar sticker prices. For example, the two hottest smartphones this summer are the Palm Pre and Apple iPhone 3G S, and both are available for $200 when purchased with new 2-year contract. So, which handset costs more in the long run?
Phone bill comparison site BillShrink crunched the numbers and have posted a new comparison of the iPhone 3G S, T-Mobile G1 and Palm Pre’s total cost of ownership. Turns out, the Palm Pre is the cheaper smartphone to own in the long run. A Palm Pre paired with Sprint’s unlimited voice, data and messaging plans will take a total of $2,400 out of your wallet after two years, but an Apple iPhone 3G S with unlimited voice, data and messaging from AT&T will ding you for $3,600 over the course of the 2-year wireless contract. That makes the Palm Pre a $1,200 cheaper smartphone.
But, that’s not the end of the story.
BillShrink’s comparison pits the Palm Pre against the iPhone 3G S on similar rate plans. But, the Palm Pre can only be purchased with one of Sprint’s unlimited plans, whereas the iPhone 3G S can be paired with lower-cost monthly rate plans. In a true Apples-to-apples comparison, the Palm Pre’s TCO proves cheaper. However, when you consider that most people won’t need unlimited messaging or voice minutes, the iPhone 3G S’s TCO may not be that much more expensive than the Palm Pre.
If unlimited voice and messaging isn’t important to you, both the iPhone 3G S and Palm Pre are likely to cost about the same over two years. But, if you really need unlimited voice minutes and messaging allotments, the Palm Pre is the obviously better deal.