For many years I have wanted the perfect cell phone. I had been sick of unreliable phones, awful user interfaces, little to no syncing with computers, and cell phone plans that are borderline criminal. I longed for a cell phone that made me proud to use it, not forced to use it.
The iPhone fits almost all of the criteria above. For a phone, especially a version 1.0 one, it is spectacular. My brother has one and loves it. My best friend has one and loves it. The reviews I have read love it. The user interface is beyond beautiful, simple, and easy to use. It is one of the few phones that makes syncing simple and without hassles. If it weren’t for my Verizon Wireless contract not being fulfilled until December 27th, 2008, I would have probably gotten one by now already.
Yet there is one huge hangup with the new iPhone 3G: its phone plans. They have now crossing that line between borderline criminal and outright criminal.
The first iPhone plans seemed somewhat reasonable. AT&T Wireless isn’t the greatest service, but I could live with that as long as it worked well in Manchester, NH and my condo, which it does. A $109 for 2 iPhones on a family plan, 700 minutes, unlimited data, unlimited nights/weekends, rollover, unlimited mobile-to-mobile, 200 text messages, and visual voicemail? I can handle that. About $34 more for 2 phones to get internet access and visual voicemail seemed reasonable. The text messages are an outright disgrace (it costs more to send a text message on AT&T then watching a freakin YouTube video), but I don’t use those much.
The new iPhone 3G data plans are a joke. For a family plan if my wife and I were to each get an iPhone would cost about $140 plus taxes to equal what the old iPhone family plan offered. Data rates went up, text messaging was taken away (so I had to add $10 worth of messages to my estimate), and I am sure they found a way to raise the price on the voice plan too.
Given how the economy has been the past few months with few hopes of improvement in the near future, how the heck does AT&T and Apple expect to sell a ton of iPhones if no one can afford the cell phone plan for it? Right now I pay $75 for 2 lines with Verizon, 500 minutes, 250 text messages per line, and your standard cell phone plan features (unlimited nights, etc.). To get an iPhone for my wife and I would effectively double our monthly cell phone bill. Yes, having an awesome phone that I can sync everything to and use the internet wherever I am would be awesome, but doubling my cell phone bill awesome? I don’t think so.
The iPhone seems a perfect candidate for a family plan. Yet it barely, barely, gets a discount. Most cell phone plans only cost $9.99 more to add a second phone line. The iPhone? You get the the priviledge for $50 more a month. Are you kidding me?
My wife and I would love an iPhone, for different reasons. Yet in December, when our Verizon contract has finally been fullfilled, I don’t know if we can afford it. AT&T now stands to lose 2 customers they could have switched from Verizon Wireless. Their loss.
Update: According to AppleInsider, it is even worse then I feared. Apparently for Family Plans you either have the option of $30 for unlimited text messaging or paying per text message. There is no SMS plan in between these two extremes. This is complete bullshit. Now the iPhone family plan for 2 lines will be $159 + taxes, more then doubling what I am currently paying for my cell phone plan with Verizon.
It is official, my wife and I are not getting an iPhone 3G. AT&T just officially lost a customer and Apple officially lost 2 iPhone purchases.