How Much That iPhone 4 Will REALLY Cost
The price of a 16GB iPhone 4 is roughly the same as comparable HTC Incredible, Evo 4G and Nexus One phones. There can be a significant difference in the how much you pay over the life of your contract - what's called Total Cost of Ownership or TCO - for these devices, however, depending on the data plan you use. ZDNet's Apple Core blog
pointed out a graphic that the folks at Billshrink worked up
to help customers compare the how much each phone will cost in the long run. Bottom line: the 16GB iPhone with the stingier data plan had the cheapest TCO of all phones surveyed, while upgrading to the 2GB data plan made the same phone more expensive than all the other phones with unlimited
plans, except for the Incredible.
The sort of obvious problem with this is that it's not
a direct comparison: paying $2,959 for an AT&T iPhone 4 over two years with a 2GB cap can't compare to the Sprint Evo 4G's TCO of $2,839 with unlimited data. I'm grandfathered in (for now) to the unlimited plan I had on my iPhone 3G, and I'm still paying $30/month for unlimited data on my 32GB iPhone 4. So, if I just pile the additional costs onto the number BillShrink came up with, my TCO swells to $3,179 over 2 years. Ow.
The chart does also do a pretty good job of showing the features of the different phones, and for people that aren't heavy data users the iPhone 4 actually does come out as a good choice, in contradiction to all the hype about its high costs. But that's the kicker: you have
to watch your data usage. A lot of overage charges would balloon the cost up into the Verizon/Incredible range.
modified image from Billshrink.com