Tallying Up the iPhone's Cost of Ownership

AT&T's three service plans for the iPhone are helping us whittle away speculation and figure out just how much the smartphone will set campers and callers back. Assuming you stay with AT&T, that is, and decide not to eat the $175 cancellation fee.

All three plans include unlimited data for email and Web browsing, Visual Voicemail, mobile-to-mobile, and a paltry 200 SMS text messages. The cheapest of the bunch offers 5,000 weekend and night minutes, while the top two plans are unlimited. So let's crunch the numbers! Just how cheap does your cult membership cost over two years?

If you buy the 4GB model iPhone at $499 and go with AT&T's sparest plan–$59.99 for 450 minutes a month–you'll be looking at a ballpark figure of around $1974.76. Whoa, that's steep? Maybe I suck at math, you should check me on this one. That figure includes the mandatory two-year contract through AT&T and the $36 activation plan. With only 450 minutes and 200 text messages, you're bound to attract some overcharges, as well. Who wants to use their shiny new iPhone for only 450 minutes a month?

Well, might as well break the bank. Let's step up to the beefiest plan AT&T is offering right now: 1,350 minutes for $99.99, though still with the same amount of texts. Also, let's toss in that 8GB iPhone for $599. With your two years of AT&T and activation fee you're at $3034.76. Holy shit! Mind you, the bulk of these costs will show up over the course of two years, but that's still quite a bit!

UPDATE: The "beefiest" plan just got beefier! For $219.99 a month you'll get 6000 minutes, 200 texts (all of the plans have an option for more texts), and pretty much unlimited everything else. Couple that with the 8GB iPhone for $599 and the $36 activation and you're looking at just shy of $6000 dollars over two years.