ANDROID!Â ANDROID!Â ANDROID!Â Only $3,000!
$3000?Â Read on.
It’s past time for a new phone, and like many overly technical people, I want the latest.Â I want the glitzy glass shard of crystallized dreams promising the future will come to me before I become an old guy corneringÂ the weak and slow to tell war stories of the ancient bytes.
Shopping for shiny is expensive.Â Some future serfs exclaim “It’s only $200!Â And after rebate that’s only $100!Â Me want toy!Â Me want toy!”Â Â Visa predatory lending waits for those with slathering disregard for the Rules of Acquisition.Â Look for them being lemmings at Walmart or at the slave marts of dystopia.
The small ‘clink-clink’ of $200 gets lost in the real cacophony of fees, voice plans, and the nickel-and-dime confidence game that is the soul of American cellular phone carriers.Â The bling I have been eyeing today is the Droid Incredible.Â It’s shiny, new, and released just yesterday.Â It’s only $200!Â Right?
Bzzztt!! FAIL!Â Bankers eat your lunch!Â Â Out the door the phone has a price of $200 plus something called an ‘activation fee’ left over from the early land line days when some schmo with needle nose pliers and a beer belly had to dig into the wiring closet to put magic smoke into your wires.Â Â Today that fee is for what technical people call “adding a record to a database”.Â Â Oh, and you must get a hands-free device in California:Â it’s the law even though you are still driving as a drunk when you argue on the cell phone.Â Oh, and add on tax!Â The state gets its cut since taxing commercial land wouldn’t be fair.
Out the door:
$300 = $200 (shiny toy) + $35 (more shiny toy price but called ‘activation’) + $40 (car charger and hands-free) + $25 sales tax.
You might think, “Not too bad.Â Â I won’t balk on the shopper’s mound and leave the store.Â I’ll pay.Â It’s more than I thought, but it’s shiny!”.Â Bzzzt.Â Plan time.
Let’s start with voice minutes.Â Â Minutes?Â Â Think in hours!Â Â If you talk 1/2 hour a day you probably talk need a 15 hour voice plan, even with other ‘perks’ like free calls after 9 p.m. at night.Â You might need more:Â Verizon got caught at least once moving minutes around to push up the bill or other ‘extras‘.Â Â Also, figure in a lot of time to deal with the clunky, ‘designed like 1980′ voice mail system.Â Â Â If you talk too long on your 15 hour plan (900 minutes), you pay another $24 per hour.
Next, pay for data separately.Â What?Â Yes!Â You need a unlimited data plan for the other half of your phone.Â Â And it won’t help you if you go overseas where a megabyte page from Facebook will cost $20 on the pay-per-use, default plan.Â Horror stories abound about multi-thousand dollar bills:Â leave your phone at home like the third world telecommunications citizen you’ve become.Â And pay extra for the voicemail because all that advanced technology.Â And then there are ‘fees’ which like to sound like taxes but aren’t.Â Â These are just extra costs tacked on to your plans, but they won’t tell you how much in advance and might want more later.Â Figure about 20% of your bill plus another $1/month for fees.Â I’m guessing because they aren’t talking.
$113 = $60 (voice, 15 hours) + $30 (data) + $3 (voice mail) + $20 (additional ‘administrative’ fees)
Add another $20 (+$4 fees)Â per month if you text a lot and $15 (+$3 fees) if you use MS Exchange for email.
That contract you sign on the way out the door:
Yep.Â $300 for the phone and another $2,712 in monthly fees.Â Â Or more.
Don’t forget to value your time.Â Â Verizon, like many phone companies, changes the contract during the span of the contract.Â Those ‘Additional Verizon Fees’ change a whim.Â Some fees get charged for service not provided; until you hunt down good customer support.Â Internet message boards are thick with advice on how to hunt down good customer support to fix the billing problems, and it takes more time than just calling for customer support. Â In summary, expect to expend some effort in handling your Verizon bill.Â Â Picking a number from a wag hat, figure 10% in strange fees and half an hour a month on average to read and dispute the bill.Â I’ll leave those out of the following calculations:Â I’m OK with fuzzy numbers, but those last two are pure guess work.
So, a phone for $3,012 over the next two year, ignoring ‘gotchas’ and your time arguing.Â Â What’s that come out to?
$3,012 two year contract = $1,506 per year = $125 per month = $4.15 per day or $6 per workday.
I can understand $4.15 per day, every day.Â That’s lunch out three days a week.Â I can understand $125 per month.Â That’s buying thirty boxes of crayons for 12 classrooms each month, or a cheap lap top every four months.Â Â I can even understand $1,500 per year:Â that’s a conference or small vacation.
It might be worth it, it might not.Â That depends on you.
What else is there?Â Are you just screwed because there are no options?Â Can you get off the contract treadmill?
I looked at “Prepaid” options.Â Where prepaid used to be domain of “too poor for a phone” rates, it has become a real alternative.Â Â I work more on email now, and handle only a few calls a day when not next to a landline.Â I am excited about pushing my phone off to Teleku or Twilio so that I can hand out my phone number freely, send anyone I don’t know to a voicemail that sends email, forward some calls to my current landline, and have the computer use random, inventive diatribes to swear when telemarketers call.Â I’ll write scripts for it later and tell you how it went.Â What’s it cost?
I went to Slickdeals and searched for the latest deal.Â I bought a Nokia brick for now:Â a boring
phone that I don’t even know the name for.Â It cost me $20 for the phone and the first two hours of
airtime.Â Â Bing might even send me $7 back for the purchase.Â Some day.Â Â I put down $25 with
Teleku for the first six hours of forwarding and messages.Â So, the prepay comes out to:
$38 = $20 (phone, shipping, taxes, 2 hours of talk) + $25 (Teleku) – $7 Bing cashback
$38 for three months = $12 per month = $0 per day.Â Really, it rounds to zero.
So, I ordered the brick.Â I’ll try it as an experiment.Â I get to play with the Teleku interface and interactive voice response scripting.Â I still learn basic Android development off the emulators.Â I don’t need the handset for digging through tutorials, scanning documentation, and figuring out which of the usual choices the Android architecture chose.Â I don’t even need a phone for getting the software up to the ‘beta’ stage.Â Also, the cellular company is low risk:Â prepaid cellular horror stories appear to involve no more than loss of the prepaid minutes.Â And I can still make geek cred from IVR and Android development.
For me, this is a real alternative.Â Â If I’m wrong, it cost me the same as a week and a half with the Android handset.
Make your choices based on the real costs.Â Think in terms of daily, monthly, and yearly total dollars.