iPhone 3G's True Price Compared

Click to viewEver since Apple announced that they're cutting $200 from the iPhone's price and lowering the iPhone 3G down to $199, people have been rumbling about how the increased AT&T data plan price negates any savings you get up front on the phone. Screams of "IT'S NOT ACTUALLY CHEAPER, APPLE IS FOOLING US" have us wondering about how much more you're really paying over two years compared with the old iPhone or similarly featured 3G smartphones on AT&T and other providers. Here's what we found.

Over two years, the iPhone 3G will cost $160 more than the original iPhone. This includes the unlimited data plan plus the additional $5 SMS plan you need to get to match the original's 200 included messages. What the chart doesn't indicate, in pure dollars, is how much 3G is worth.

Compared with a similar 3G phone on AT&T, the iPhone 3G costs exactly the same over two years as AT&T's HTC Tilt (minus $100 for the increased initial phone price). Compared to Sprint, you're coming out slightly behind by $20 because of Sprint's included unlimited SMS/MMS, but unlimited 3G data still costs the same $30. Verizon's data and texting plan is also on par with AT&T's, and you get an extra 50 text messages.

So what can we conclude? Yes, the iPhone 3G will cost you $160 more than the original iPhone over two years. If you don't need 3G at all (or GPS), you might not need to upgrade if you've got an old one. Otherwise, $160 is a small price to pay-for us at least-over the course of two years to drastically increase your email and browsing speeds.